A study has shown that playing video games for 1-2 hours a week results in good motor skills among children of age 7-11. Any more than that can cause several physical and psychological issues. This is why parents should carefully regulate the hours a child spends on a virtual game.
What are the Effects of Video Games on Children?
Parents and educators alike have frowned upon video games since they became popular in the 1970s and 80s. This is mainly because of the set belief that these games are a waste of time and can corrupt young minds. However, due to a worldwide pandemic in the last few years, video games have become a way for children to connect amidst social distancing. This is making the caregivers question its effects even more.
According to several psychologists and researchers, there can be positive as well as negative effects of video games on children. However, by checking for the warning signs and with timely intervention, caregivers can prevent adverse effects.
Positive Effects of Video Games on Children
Although parents believe all video games are sinister, this is not true. Those created especially for children will help in their skill development. In addition, they can also be relaxing and entertaining and aid in brain development.
Following are four productive influences of video games on children:
1. Develops Problem-Solving Skills and Enhances CreativityVarious games have several levels of challenges that promote innovative thinking in kids. Moreover, some games involve planning and problem-solving, which gives them an opportunity for creative self-expression.
2. Teaches How to Work as a TeamMost games nowadays are played online via the internet and involve players from across the globe. This encourages children to learn to interact with different people and develop the skills to function in a team. Through these games, kids learn the meaning of team spirit and also how to enjoy healthy competition. Moreover, it teaches them to accept fall gracefully without giving up, which is important for character building in the long run.
3. Promotes Learning Through Fun ActivitiesCertain games are based on real-life events of history and culture. These games can make a child enthusiastic about geography, ancient cultures, international relationships, etc. Moreover, since kids associate games with fun, they find learning through them to be engaging and entertaining.
4. Improves Decision-Making Skills
Most video games are fast-paced, and the players need to take quick decisions at every step. Playing such games builds and improves decision-making skills in children. It also helps them to function efficiently in fields that require split-second decision-making under high pressure, such as sports, medicine, etc.
Although playing video games has certain positive effects, there are negative aspects of it as well.
Negative Effects of Video Games on Children
Playing video games can have adverse impacts on kids if parents do not control them properly. Although some video games have educational themes, many are themed around violent plotlines.
Here are four detrimental effects that these games can have on your child:
1. Encourages Violent BehaviourMany popular video games show criminal, hateful behaviours and war-like scenarios. A study has shown that people exposed to simulated violence for prolonged periods can become numb or immune to them. Moreover, they, too, start displaying signs of violence and troublesome behaviour by emulating those actions. Since children have impressionable minds, they become the worst victims in these cases.
2. Makes Kids Socially DisconnectedAlthough there are some video games that people can play in virtual groups, kids still play them alone while stuck in a room. This limits their real-life interactions and destroys their interpersonal skills. After a while, kids feel out of place at social gatherings and completely lose interest in meeting new people. Conditions like stress, social anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorder are some of the mental impacts that video games have on children.
3. Promotes Poor Behaviour in School
Studies show that playing video games causes poor academic performance in children. This is because their young minds are often lost in the virtual world, which distracts them.
Moreover, the controlled environment of the school is in stark contrast to the freedom and entertainment that video games provide. As a result, skipping classes and not doing homework are some negative effects of online games on students.
4. Creates Health Afflictions
Playing games online for long hours instead of indulging in actual sports and physical activities negatively affects a child's health in several ways. Apart from the psychological issues, sitting in one place for hours while gaming increases the chances of developing muscle and joint weakness, obesity, numbness of fingers, etc.
Furthermore, children often get addicted to online games, which is why parents should be extra careful about any behavioural changes.
What are the Signs of Video Game Addiction in Children?
Children can very quickly get hooked on video games which can lead to the point of addiction if they do not stop in time.
Look out for these six symptoms to determine whether or not your kid is already addicted to them:
1. Playing For Long HoursIf your child spends countless hours playing video games, it may be because they do so without realising it. This can mean that they are facing addiction issues.
2. Denying the ProblemWhen your child refuses to admit they are dependent on the video game, even when you provide them with evidence, it means they are in denial.
3. Disinterest in Every Other Aspect of LifeIn case you notice that your child is disinterested in every other everyday activity, such as studying, interacting with friends, playing outside, skipping baths or meals, etc., then it is a warning sign.
4. Spending Extravagantly on GamesYour child may ask for extra money to buy special gear for online games. If the condition has advanced, they may also take the money without your knowledge.
5. Lashing OutPeople addicted to video games often cannot process failure, for example, losing at a certain level in the game. This makes them anxious and frustrated and may cause them to behave aggressively.
6. Playing in Secret
Your child will try to find sneaky ways to play the game even if you prohibit them from doing so. They may request you, beg you, or throw tantrums so that you let them play for a few minutes.
Although it may be scary even to imagine your child going through such drastic changes, there are ways to stop these from happening.
What are the Prevention of Negative Effects of Video Games on Children?
Video games can be fun if you take a few measures to curb their detrimental aspects. Here are eight such things that you can do:
- Try not to let your kids play online games as a pastime when they are too young. Instead, find other creative activities to engage them.
- Set a limit on how long your child can play video games and strictly implement it.
- Try to be more involved in your kid’s gaming habits to know what kind of games they are playing. To do so, you can play video games with them sometimes.
- Keep gaming devices away from your kid's reach at night to ensure they are not using them without your knowledge.
- Keep an eye on who your child is interacting with online as they play video games to ensure they are not in any trouble.
- Let your kid play video games as a reward for completing other tasks such as homework chores etc.
- Try to interact with your child and do activities with them as much as possible so that they do not feel the need to turn to video games in their free time.
- Encourage them to participate in other social activities, such as playing outside, making new friends, participating in events, etc.
The debate about whether there are more cons to playing video games than pros is never-ending. However, slight caution from the caregiver’s end will let children enjoy video games as a fun pastime without any nasty outcomes. This will also help to manage the psychological effects of video games on children.
FAQs about Effects of Video Games on Children
There are many productive things that children can do in their free time, such as painting, reading books, going outside for a walk or playing, etc. Moreover, they can also learn new languages, play an instrument, etc., skills that will stay with them forever and enrich them.
You can cure your child’s addiction by controlling its triggers. However, if you feel like you cannot manage the negative effects of video games, it is better to seek help from a professional. Depending on the level of addiction, your child will need behavioural therapy or counselling sessions.
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