- Family and Parenting»
Kids Playing Video Games
Video games have been around since 1958. The popularity has really exploded among kids and grownups alike since the 1970’s. The degree of difficulty has increased dramatically and the power to interact with the games has made this form of entertainment enchanting.
Different Types of Video Games
There are many different kinds of video games and more are being created every day.
Some of the most popular games are:
- Role Playing Games or Simulation
- Shooter Games
- Action Adventure
- Strategy Games
- Construction Simulation
- Educational Games
- Board Games played on a personal computer
The Good and The Bad
Ever since the explosion of video game popularity there have been fears regarding their effects and debates about the benefits.
People who play video games on a regular basis acquire wonderful skills that may help them in other areas of their lives. On the flip side, there are also serious consequences to excessive gaming.
Which side is right? Both! Video games are not evil as some would suggest but they need to be viewed as a form of entertainment or stress relief. When gaming becomes a way to avoid dealing with real people and responsibilities or a virtual babysitter they can be destructive.
Hand Eye Coordination
One of the major benefits to playing video games is that hand eye coordination is significantly increased after just 20 minutes of play.
This skill is essential when playing sports, driving a car, cooking multiple things and it is paramount when performing life saving measures like surgery.
Many companies use simulators that are based on the same principle as video games to train employees for the sole purpose of developing hand eye coordination. There are numerous games created for babies and toddlers for the same reason.
Increased Focus and Concentration
Many of the popular video games dramatically increase the ability to focus for the kids and adults who play them.
These games require the player to multitask and pay attention. If they lose focus, they will be defeated and have to start again. They try and try again until they have completed their task. The reward is a more difficult challenge and the cycle continues.
The process is teaching the player that concentration and focus is necessary in order to reach their goal. When done in moderation, the whole experience can be very self-empowering and breed self-confidence in those who feel inadequate because they have trouble focusing in other areas of their lives.
*Over indulging in stimulating video games can have the opposite effect on a child’s ability to focus and concentrate. Like any tool used to help someone learn or grow, if it isn’t used properly it can be detrimental.
The unexpected positive effect on focus and concentration has inspired professionals to use video games in therapies provided for kids and adults with ADHD. A therapeutic game called Playing Attention was created specifically for ADHD sufferers. This game has been tremendously beneficial in helping these kids increase their ability to focus and learn.
It is believed that regular video game playing can also significantly increase visual awareness and response. When compared to people who don’t play, the gamer’s attention to detail and reaction time is unmatched.
Problem Solving and Strategy Skills
The first video games were modeled around the principle of immediate gratification so they would keep the players attention and interest. Well, people are paying attention and they are interested!
Over the years, the game designs have grown. The games have become very complex and involved with multiple challenges happening simultaneously and many different levels to complete before the player gets the satisfaction of mastering the game.
Almost every video game requires some sort of problem solving to accomplish the goal and they need to employ more sophisticated strategies to keep up. It takes forethought, patients and determination to complete some of the games to their final level.
External Stimulation and Imagination
Video games are extremely visually stimulating. The graphics in games are phenomenal and there is amazing detail included in each frame. The benefits of that are outlined above but there is a down side to that as well.
When kids spend large amounts of time playing these games, they begin to require that amount of stimulation to become engaged in other activities. Things like books and creative play don’t hold their attention because those activities require the child to participate in making it fun.
Kids’ imagination gets lazy and they get bored easier. They come to expect something or someone to entertain them. It is important that children still play and create in some form so they never lose their incredible imaginations.
It was imagination and creativity that inspired the creation of video games and many other amazing inventions we now enjoy. When these electronic inventions are enjoyed in moderation, there will be many more creatively inspired things to come.
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When kids play video games for hours on end it dramatically decreases or eliminates their physical activity.
Up to 33% of kids today are classified as overweight or obese and the problem isn’t showing any immediate improvement. There are many factors that contribute to the obesity problem and lack of movement is at the top of the list.
When kids see someone get hurt or killed for the first time it causes them to have an emotional and physical response. Violence causes anxiety and fear because it evokes empathy for the person who is getting hurt.
When kids get repeatedly exposed to violent acts, it reduces their outrage and empathy. It becomes acceptable and normal.
Children who are exposed to violent video games on a regular basis become indifferent to the gravity of the act being commited.
There is time in the day for everything that needs to be done. When gaming time interferes with homework time kids get behind the rest of their class very quickly. This causes them to feel like they aren’t as smart as everyone else and it leads to isolation. When this happens it is common for those kids to skip class and the hole deepens.
Kids will often say they don’t fit in or they don’t understand what the teacher is talking about. Unfortunately both of these statements are probably true because more time is spent playing video games than focusing on school.
Many video games involve role playing and playing with others through the internet.
This makes the games more exciting and challenging but it limits the amount of time kids actually spend with their peers and their families.
Human contact is necessary to maintain social skills such as reading body language, maintaining eye contact, learning what to say and when and how to get and maintain another person’s attention.
These are all necessary skills for attaining and maintaining employment and relationships later in life.
Take The Good and Leave The Bad
One important way to assure that gamers can reap the benefits without falling into the pitfalls of playing is to limit playtime per day.
When a child is interested in gaming it is up to the parents or caregivers to assure that they are learning the importance of balancing their time.
The benefits that a child gets from playing video games may help them play sports, do their homework, focus on other tasks and interact with their peers.
All of these skills are useless if they don’t turn the game off and go into the world and use them.
Budgeting the gaming time is really subjective depending on each family’s individualized schedule and it can be difficult to decide what is too much and what isn’t.
Consider that the average television show is on for 30-60 minutes and an average movie length is 2 hours. If the child has time to watch a favorite show during the week after their homework is done, that time could be replaced with a video game. Most people wouldn’t have an issue with kids watching a movie on the weekends or on school breaks so if those 2 hours were spend playing a game instead, it should be acceptable. Both activities are sedentary but not for an overly excessive amount of time.
These blocks of time allow kids to explore all the wonderful things about different games while still giving them plenty of time to experience other facets of life.
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