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Video Games Effects on Children

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            Video games have improved over time. From pixel-like graphics, video games now come with more realistic game play and visuals which made depictions of violence, blood and gore more realistic. With this, many people especially parents are troubled in the aspect that video games might promote aggressive behavior among children or even to older folk. This is just one of the negative effects of video games. Nonetheless, no one can deny the fact that the new era of video games also provided a new avenue for learning and socialization. Some groups and people have been singling out video games because of violent content failing to consider its positive implications. Little do they know that games, depending on the theme and content, may either be helpful or harmful.

            Mainly, games are categorized as role playing, action, adventure, puzzle and sports. Under these categories, games are also rated based on content. Some games may be recommended for the older folk while some may be recommended for preschool children while others are recommended for teens. Games that are rated “mature” contains graphic scenes of drug, violence and nudity while other games recommended for the adolescent would likely feature less or no such content. Parents only need to guide their children and make sure that they do not get a hold of mature rated games.

            In a sense, video games can also be a way for parents to be able to bond with their children by playing together (National Institute on Media and the Family, 2006). This could be especially useful especially when there is no opportunity for more hectic activities. This could be especially useful particularly because of the great number of video game players present in homes.

A study of over 2,000 8 to 18 year-olds (3rd through 12th graders) found the 83% of them have at least one video game player in their home, 31% have 3 or more video game players in their home, and 49% have video game players in their bedrooms (cited in Roberts, Foeher, and Rideout, 2005 and National Institute on Media and the Family, 2006).

            Strategy games have been a very effective way of promoting critical thinking among gamers. These strategy games require the player to formulate or devise a strategy to emerge victorious in a certain game. In the case of role playing games in which the players takes control of a character or multiple character to progress to a storyline, good morals may be developed because more often than not, as the games plot unfolds, the player is mainly doing quests to help people or fight for the better good. These role playing games often also feature violent content but feature less graphic depictions of blood and gore. Role playing games like these include the Final Fantasy sequel, the Suikoden series, Grandia, Wild Arms, Harvest Moon, etc. The storyline of these games all feature good moral intentions which could help build the character of gamers.

            Aside from promoting critical thinking and moral values, it may also be noted that games provide helpful and valuable information to children.

Video games are natural teachers. Children find them highly motivating: by virtue of their interactive nature. children are actively engaged with them: they provide repeated practice: and they include rewards for skillful play. These facts make it likely that video games could have large effects, some of which are intended by game designers, and some of which may not be intended (Gentile, 2004).

            In one study in the United Kingdom, it was discovered that simulation and adventure games promoted strategic thinking and planning skills among children. Improvements in the children’s mathematics, reading and spelling skills have also been observed by some parents and teachers among children that have been exposed to such game genres. It was also indicated that children used games to socialize as they tend to play in pairs or even in groups. According to Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia (Teem) Professor Angela McFarlane, “Adventure, quest and simulation type games have a lot of benefit – they’re quite complex and create a context in which children can develop important skills” (BBC News, 2002).

            However, despite being a very helpful learning tool, the use of video games in classroom activities is unjustified because the content of the game does not match the content of the national curriculum. McFarlane indicated that games could also be created for such purposes and would intentionally be programmed to adapt to the national education curriculum (BBC News, 2002).

            On the other hand, games have also been vastly associated with many negative effects, particularly those games that show acts of violence or more specifically involves killing. Because video games now offer more realistic graphics, it also provides more vivid representations  of violence and gore. Violence in video games have also been dubbed as more harmful compared to violence in television because it has a more interactive nature. In two studies which was featured in one issue of the Journal of Personality of and Social Psychology published by the American Psychological Association, it was indicated that exposure to violent games such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Mortal Kombat have had effects on a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior. (American Psychological Association, 2000). Many other studies have linked video games to aggressive and violent behavior among children.

            Specifically, games that offer such violence are classified under action and fighting games. These games include Grand Theft Auto which has been very controversial, Resident Evil, Black, God of War, Resident Evil, among others. Grand Theft Auto provides a more realistic background because the games main character is a criminal and the game contains many inappropriate content such as drugs, sex, theft and needless violence. The player can maul to death anyone he sees just for the pleasure of it. These games may be rated as mature or teen but sometimes, the younger folk are also exposed to these games. To prevent this scenario, the parent must guide their children on the games that they play.

            Parents must take part to ensure that their children are not exposed to games inappropriate for their age groups.  When buying new game titles, the parents must note the game ratings on the box of the game software. The parents could also check game reviews to know if the game contains any material that would be deemed inappropriate for the children. It is also advisable to limit the game time of the children as well as not putting computers and video game consoles in the children’s rooms so that they could be easily guided accordingly. Video games could also be rewarded for finishing household chores and school assignments (National Institute on Media and the Family, 2006).

            Excessive gaming has also been linked with health disorders such as obesity and urinary tract infection. Children and even adults who are hooked on video games may suffer from obesity because of the absence of more active activities. Urinary tract infection may also be associated because children, in order to play more, tend to hold their pee. Video games have also been associated in the development of anti-social behavior among children as well as a suffering in the academic performance of some.

            To sum it up, video games have many positive and negative effects but it really depends on the type of game because some games may be informative and morally stimulating while some provides only adrenaline-pumping violent content. To weight both sides, there are equal negative and positive consequences but the negative effects can readily be cushioned with the guidance of parents. The games should not be blamed solely for its negative effects because as parents, they have the obligation to ensure that their children are not exposed to materials that are not suitable for their age. ‘Guidance’ is the keyword here.


National Institute on Media and the Family. 2006 November. Effects of Video Game Playing on            Children. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_


Gentile, Douglas A. 2004 June. The effects of video games on children: what parents need to       know. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0816/


BBC News. 18 March 2002. Video games ‘stimulate learning’. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from             http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/1879019.stm

American Psychological Association. 23 April 2000. Violent Video Games Can Increase Aggression. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from http://www.apa.org/releases/videogames.html

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