Child Development and Nintendo DSi: to Buy or not to Buy?
Nintendo DSi versus Nintendo DS Lite
The Nintendo DSi is a handheld game console. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS system, succeeding the Nintendo DS Lite.
For those who own a DSi unit or have searched something about it, you probably are well aware of its features and how it differs from the DS Lite. For others who are new to this gadget, especially to the non-techi like me, here are notable features in brief:
While the console's design is similar to that of the DS Lite, it includes the major addition of two interactive digital cameras which may be incorporated into game play or simply used to take photographs. One camera in the inner flap allows you to take pictures of yourself and another one on the outer flap. After you've taken the photos, you can edit them, and share with your friends.
DSi has a sound application that allows voice recording and musical playback. You can record your own music or sounds and play with pitch and speed with its built-in microphone and enhanced speakers. Even when the screen is shut, you have the option of listening to AAC formatted music stored on a SD card with headphones. It doesn’t work the same way as an iPod but certainly provides fun with music and sounds.
Internet capabilities thru local wireless internet connectivity allow you to connect to an online store called Nintendo DSi shop where you can download unique games and applications, browse the internet or at least check your Facebook account, share your photos and enjoy multiplayer/interactive games.
Let your son exercise his brain, enroll him at the BigBrainAcademy or let him join the ultimate Mario Kart race. Let your daughter help the Disney Princesses with their adventure or express her fashion sense with Bratz. Game cards and games requiring Wi-Fi connection from various categories like Brain Exercise, Puzzle, Mathematics, Fashion, Adventure and others are available for endless learning and entertainment. Sounds like fun fun fun...better than watching TV for sure, but have you ever thought of the negative impact of these game consoles on your child’s brain development?
Negative Impact of Computer Games
A study showed that playing of computer games stimulate only those parts of the brain devoted to vision and movement leaving the frontal lobes, which is crucial in developing memory, emotion, learning and controlling behavior, undeveloped. Dr Kawashima, the researcher who led this study is convinced that children excessively playing computer games are more prone to violent acts because they cannot control their behavior. This can be exacerbated by playing violent computer games wherein the juvenile attitude to violence is desensitized.
It is likely that violent computer/video games have an even stronger effect on children's aggression than TV because (1) the games are highly engaging and interactive, (2) the games reward violent behavior, and because (3) children repeat these behaviors over and over as they play, as reported.
Another disadvantage of too much time spent playing video games is the decrease in ‘pro-social helping’. The child will have limited social interaction because of too much time spent playing alone or with a limited number of people. Moreover, this habit displaces other essential and potentially enriching experiences. Technology in general, video games included, have been cited to negatively affect critical reasoning and attention span of children and they thus become less skilled at concentrating on a particular point for a long time, making it harder for them to solve longer and more complex problems.
Positive Impact of Computer Games
WAIT, you have not heard enough. There are lots of positive effects of computer games on children as well. With the development of games that challenge children intellectually and the option for multiplayer/interactive games, Nintendo DSi can be sociable, intellectually stimulating and fun of course. This is also a cool way of introducing your child to computers. Some games also have a positive impact on child development by improving hand-eye coordination and attention to details. Visual reasoning and multitasking skills of today’s generation is said to be better than their ancestors and this is associated with visual media influences. Playing action video games like ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Unreal Tournament’ is reported to improve contrast sensitivity of eyesight or the ability to notice subtle differences in shades of gray. Moreover, games like this teach survival and winning strategies. Playing video games is also an avenue for teaching how to manage competitive behavior. Game console is also a good tool for healing and rehabilitation.
Research on children’s computer use is still in its infancy but parents should very well analyze the current available information to intelligently resolve their current predicament of whether or not to allow their children to play video games, especially the latest craze, Nintendo DSi.
Well, if you notice, most of the disadvantages cited are due to excessive usage. I agree with those reports and even believe that there are more health risks with excessive use of video games that are not mentioned in this hub. Please note of the word excessive.
On the other hand, the advantages are so clear to ignore, especially with judicious choice of games to play. These days, video games have become part of childhood as much as skipping rope, toy cars or teddy bears. Obviously, technology has mixed effect on child development. So what do we do now?
Balance is therefore needed so the child can steer clear of the disadvantages while taking advantage of the benefits of technological innovations. It is recommended that children spend less than two hours sitting in front of a screen whether it's a TV, game console or computer.
My school kids ages 10 and 7 have Nintendo DS Lite and DSi as gifts from their Uncle and Aunt. We were so pleased to see them enjoying all the features of this game console with their cousins during Christmas break, especially the multiplayer games. I can still remember how they laughed as they explore the sounds application and listened to their chipmunk voices. It’s amazing how fast they can learn and master different game categories and applications.
When Papa Sez and I noticed the tendency of our kids to extend their playtime, I took charge of keeping their units and reiterated our established rule on video playtime…one hour a day during weekends and school breaks only and no play on school days. We also made sure they play traditional board games like scrabble and chess and outdoor games like tag and hide-and-seek.
Apart from controlling the time spent by the child in playing video games, the games that the child plays should be carefully chosen as well. Look into age appropriateness, skills development focus and entertainment as your criteria for choosing the game. As much as possible, do not allow your children to buy games on their own. Your opinion on what’s best for them should always count.
Now, are you buying your children this Nintendo DSi or not? If you can take responsibility in regulating the time spent with this game console and the kind of games to be played, then why not? Why deprive the children of the fun, skills development and other benefits that this technological advancement of their generation can offer to them?
We have talked a lot about kids but adults too have learned to love Nintendo DSi as much as children do. I for one do enjoy playing Nintendo and my favorites are BigBrainAcademy and Theme Park. My daughter’s DS Lite was my constant companion while pregnant with our youngest child and advised to have complete bed rest. It made my condition bearable. =D
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