Good and Bad Effects of Video Games on Kids

Have you ever wondered if allowing your kids to play games online or video games is the right thing? As parents, you often wonder whether online games that your kids play are doing them harm? The consensus seems to be that they are bad, but can they actually do some good for your kids too?  As a parent, I was called upon to ponder over this question lately and so I set about researching on what the potential pros and cons could be. What follows are some of the potential positives and potential negatives that online gaming can have on your kids. This is not meant as any advisory, but merely as a guide offering some points to ponder over. The ultimate decision as a parent should be yours and yours alone.

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The Potential Cons of Online/Video Gaming on Kids

Some of the potential cons could be,

  • That it promotes increased tolerance to violence, that kids become insensitive and cold towards other kids and adults alike, not being able to differentiate between what's reality and what's not. This can be considered a valid concern since many video games contain graphic/inappropriate content and provide incentives for users to, for example, kill as many characters as possible by rewarding them with points and increased levels. Can kids differentiate between a game and real life like an adult would?
  • Another negative effect of online gaming for kids could be that they would end up making them a socially reclusive individual, who just stays indoors and plays games, rather than interact with other kids and play outdoor games, which are essential in developing a healthy body and spirit. They may also not develop much-needed social skills required to help them interact with other children/adults around them growing up.
  • Yet another negative consequence of playing video games could be decreased academic performance. Gaming can be very addictive and it could occupy the child's time, leaving very little time for academics and other creative pursuits like learning music and other arts perhaps.
  • The negative health effects that playing video games has on kids cannot be ignored either. Staying indoors and playing online games, instead of going out and being physically active can result in kids becoming obese, suffer from eye problems as a result of prolonged hours of staring at the monitor/screen, increase the likelihood of them suffering from repetitive stress disorders, etc.

It seems then that playing online games or video games can only bring misery to your kids, but well nothing is really as black and white.

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The Potential Pros of Online/Video Gaming on Kids

Some of the potential pros of online gaming for kids could be,

  • Video games can really test your kids' brains. It never hurts to give one's brain a good workout and video games do just that. A lot of the games require good hand-eye coordination and problem solving abilities. These are skills that can't be developed in a purely academic setting wherein exposure to online games and computers is not prevalent, or the exposure is minimal.
  • Online gaming can equip your kids with multi-tasking abilities through the games they play. This might be helpful for them as they grow up in a world that requires them to frequently multi-task to get things done.
  • Gaming can also equip your kids with analytical and math abilities that one wouldn't normally associate games with. A lot of the games require these skills to successfully complete the game and so it would only help your kid in that sense.
  • Playing video/online games can also help make your kid learn the importance of patience - a much needed virtue. In most games, the player does not usually succeed on the first attempt, but by being patient and trying again and again, he/she eventually succeeds. This can help teach your kid that they shouldn't give up the first time, but try again and again - much the same as in real life. It would therefore teach them that they need to be patient in life as well. In that sense, playing such games can help teach them valuable life lessons.
  • Games that require teamwork can help teach kids the benefits of cooperating with other individuals to reach a desired goal and not be selfish and self-centered.
  • Most importantly, playing games and being exposed to technology can equip your child to adapt to new technologies more easily, and in a technology-driven society such as ours is right now, it can give your kid an advantage over other kids who are not as exposed to technology or as technologically savvy.

So, it seems reasonable to conclude that there are both cons and pros in having kids play online/video games.

The Need for Parental Supervision - Boundaries Need to be Set!!

As a parent, it is your responsibility to monitor what kind of content your kid is viewing, and this applies to the kind of games your kids play too. Any kind of violent or inappropriate content should be strictly disallowed. Content-control software can be deployed on PCs to help prevent your kids from viewing unsuitable content. Also, in the games you buy, screen out games that have inappropriate/violent content and which are not suitable to your kid's age group. Also, it is essential in not letting gaming become an addiction and so certain boundaries need to be set. For example, you can mandate that only a certain time period in a day can be devoted to playing games.

Coming back to the subject, I believe kids can benefit greatly from being allowed exposure to online/video games - provided parents supervise them at all times and monitor the type of content they are being exposed to. I don't believe the right thing to do is to fight technology and crib about times gone by. Technology is not all bad and so why not expose your kids to it and give them an early advantage? That's what I believe in as a parent!

© 2010 Shil1978

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Comments 21 comments

Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 5 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

I agree that boundaries ought to be set. Once a balance is achieved, video games can be a great addition to family game night.

Namaste.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Yes, boundaries are essential. Thanks, Deb, for stopping by and commenting. Namaste!!


Craan profile image

Craan 5 years ago from Florida

Great information and very good point of view! However, I prefer to make gaming a family affair at the arcades on the weekends and have my children play normally in outdoor activities with their friends.

I feel this combination will enhance my children's social skills without the tendency to become addicted to excessively playing video games at home.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Craan, I would agree with your approach. It is important to not let gaming become an addiction. Moderation is the way to go! You are quite right in emphasizing on outdoor activities - many kids are increasingly staying indoors, and it certainly isn't a good trend!!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 5 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

The content in games these days are shocking! Even the content in movies that are rated G and pg. What's going on??? Great Hub though. I have to share it. :)


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Kim, yes - I agree. In general, content is getting more violent and graphic. However, thankfully, there are many educational and normal games too! Glad you liked this hub and thanks for sharing! Always nice to have you around :)


green tea-cher profile image

green tea-cher 5 years ago

Yes, I had all those same concerns as a parent and I like that you have pointed out the pros and cons. One pro that stands out for me is the benefit to hand-eye coordination. I have seen many children advance into professions that they may not have otherwise been able to except that their hand-eye coordination was excellent due to their time spent on video games. Moderation and control are key.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

GTC, I agree. My own daughter, close to 4 now, is so tech savvy - I am amazed often times!! I've observed that children pick up on the nitty-gritties of how to use a tech gadget a lot quicker than adults. In that sense, I am a believer in technology being a good thing in general. Of course, as you also point out, moderation is essential and also parental supervision to ensure that. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective :)


NCBIer profile image

NCBIer 5 years ago

I agree with you. Just as any aspect of their life, children want to become an active member of everything that is going on around them. Video games are not any different. As long as there is parental supervision and boundaries, there is no harm in it. I think it is important to pay close attention when changing the limits and watch for changes in behavior. My son, also 4, would play the Wii balance boxing game with us and loved it. But after a few turns at this he became overly aggressive towards other kids. We took a break from in, until his behavior became acceptable again. Like many other activities in his life, he is learning the difference between real/not real, acceptable/unacceptable behavior. It is all part of the learning process. As is having fun along the way. Thanks for the great hub!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Thank you, NCBIer, for stopping by and sharing your experience. Glad you liked this hub :)


ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 5 years ago

I am glad to see that you think the pros outweigh the cons. I completely believe what Jane McGonigal says about how online games can make a better world. Check it out!

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can...


georgiecarlos profile image

georgiecarlos 5 years ago from Philippines

I agree that video games have both pros and cons. But then again, I think almost everything in the world has a fair share of pros and cons,what is important (like what you said), is to have boundaries. Thanks for sharing such a great hub!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Quite right, Georgie! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you liked this hub :)


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 5 years ago from United States

When I was growing up, video games were still etching out their place in the world. The ESRB didn't quite exist yet so ratings on video games were haphazardly in place and parents didn't know what any of them meant. The result of this was that me and my brothers (at ages 13 and younger) were playing the hyper violent version of Mortal Kombat.

Now that I'm older and I know how the video game rating system works, I suggested to my brother that my nephew should only be playing certain kinds of games. Yet by the time he was ten he was already playing games like Halo and World of Warcraft. Apparently I'm the only one in my family who sees something wrong with it. That isn't to say, however, that I think those are bad games. I love Halo's gameplay and story, and Warcraft can definitely have the benefits you described above (along with a lot of the cons too). However I feel like a ten-year-old child shouldn't be exposed to these games yet. Part of the reason is because I don't like the glorification of violence in childrens' products, and part of it is because online environments, whether they are games or not, can be very negative, hurtful and downright dangerous. I want to make sure that my nephew, and in the future my own children, know how to deal with these dangerous situations before they engage in a game like warcraft.

So anyway, long story short, you make some good points.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

You are absolutely right MT - I share your concerns. The glorification of violence is disconcerting, it is best if young children are kept away from games such as these. As with other things, there are good things and bad and hence the need for parental supervision/monitoring. Thanks for stopping by and for putting forth those important points, MT :)


Phaseus profile image

Phaseus 5 years ago from Bakersfield

Without even reading this, I am going to make this comment on my pint of view with impact on children from video games. A study of about 30+ murders carried out by teens was done. 4% of those teens played video games, 25% listened to music that was considered harmful, 40% went to church, and 18% were bullied at school. Now, if you ask me (and I will go back and read of course please don't take this as negative) Kids aren't learning about violence and such from video games. In my opinion, I learned about a lot of the violence by watching the news or listening to bullies as they talked to their friends. Now if everyone would please stop trying to find someone to blame violence on. Human nature in this day and age brings violence. All the war and such going on throughout the world and it really pisses me off when the media finds other things to blame people on making the world think what shouldn't be thought. Thank you for your time and happy hubbing.


Samantha Hendren age 11 4 years ago

I personally think video games are good teachers and rock!


kelleyward 4 years ago

Great info! I have 3 boys that love fast paced scenes like they can find in video games. We really limit their time and haven't bought DX's hand held games at this time. I think like anything else balance is key. My boys play Super Mario which violence is not usually a huge factor. I'm sure with age they will want to play more violent games. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Thanks!


Melis Ann profile image

Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

There are definitely two sides to this issue. My kids earn their time for weekend play by meeting their weekday tasks. This limits their time to weekends and when those minutes are gone, they still have plenty of time left over for playing outside and other unstructured play. Best of both worlds.


1234567890 4 years ago

All games have to have ESRB ratings, Parents do your bit! its not the games, it's you letting them play it. I don't think a child would become violent playing on a video game version of tic tac toe, which is within his/her age rating. If they do after grand theft auto, then gutted why did you let them play it.


Rizalian 3 years ago

Hi, I'm a parent and i'm having some issues with video games with my child. I think video games are good for certain educational purposes. But when it becomes addictive I think it becomes a problem.

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