Guidance and regulation are very important elements when playing video games, especially when it comes to children. Many parents do not encourage their children to play video games because they believe they are a waste of time and a source of bad influence because they can easily corrupt their minds with the fantasies of the virtual world. Others believe that some video games expose their children to violence, an element that contributes to antisocial and unruly behavior.
However, research has established that video games can have several positive impacts on children as long as they are allowed to play the ones that enhance their ability to learn various life skills. Video games help children to learn many positive things that help to expand their cognitive abilities and develop unique thinking patterns.
Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habitual has numerous consequences on the affected person. According to psychologists, one of the challenges that most young people face due to technological advancements is an addiction to playing video games (Vorderer & Bryant, 2012). Addiction to video games applies differently to other forms of addictions that involve intoxicants such as alcohol and other types of drugs. This type of addiction is classified as an impulsive control disorder owing to the fact that the affected individual often overindulges in playing video games and cannot control their strong craving (Kowert & Quandt, 2015).
Addiction to video games is in the same category as pathological gambling. One of the elements about video games that leads to addiction is its virtual nature, which allows someone to develop unrealistic fantasies that do not relate to the normal life situations (Vorderer & Bryant, 2012).
Some online games involve joining a team, an element that can easily drive a user to develop a certain degree of attachment and loyalty to people they do not know. Also, the fact that video games offer users a chance to connect with others in a virtual world often affects their ability to normal relationships with people in the real world. Research has also found out that boys have a higher chance of suffering from addiction to video games compared to girls (Rigby & Ryan, 2011). With the right guidance and regulation, video games are good because children tend to learn essential life skills such as the art of socializing, skillfulness, and building a winning mentality from an early age.
Video games help to introduce children to computer technology, offer an opportunity for parents to play with them, as well as making learning a fun experience if they are integrated into the curriculum (Kowert & Quandt, 2015). Lack of regulation on the part of parents can lead to children developing an addiction to video games, especially if they do not have any other fun activities to do (Rigby & Ryan, 2011).
Some of the notable signs that someone is addicted to video games include preoccupation with a certain game, restfulness, irritability when someone attempts to deny them a chance to play, unhealthy relationships, and feelings of guilt when they do not play (Kowert & Quandt, 2015). Among children, notable symptoms of addiction to video games include fatigue, declining academic performance, lack of participation in school activities, inconsistent completion of homework, and social withdrawal to play (Vorderer & Bryant, 2012).
Negative consequences of addiction to video games
Most people that are against video games often cite their creation around violence as the main reason for their opposition. Playing video games that have a lot of violence often makes the user become very aggressive towards other people. Research has established that the simulated nature of violence contained in video games can easily make the user develop a certain degree of immunity to such real-life incidences (Rigby & Ryan, 2011).
This is a major problem among children because they develop difficulties about having good interactions with their seniors, as well as the inability to have reliable friendships. Unfortunately, playing video games often rewards violent behavior. Second, addiction to video games often makes one socially isolated because a lot of time is spent indoors playing. Isolated people often lead a very lonely life and often struggle to engage in other crucial life events (Kowert & Quandt, 2015).
This is usually a very destructive activity for children because they do not experience normal physical health due to the lack of outdoor exercise activities (Vorderer & Bryant, 2012). Although a lot of interaction happens through the virtual world of gaming, most players do not replicate the same level of interaction in the real world.
Third, addiction to video games often leads to the user acquiring the wrong values and perceptions about various elements of the real world. Video gamers often believe that violence is a normal part of life and the insinuation that too much aggression is required for one to emerge victorious in any battle (Rigby & Ryan, 2011).
Video games also create a perception that women are weak and cannot match men in most endeavors. Research has established that people with an addiction to video games often confuse reality and fantasy (Kowert & Quandt, 2015). Children that are addicted to playing video games suffer from poor academic grades. This mainly happens because they dedicate all their time to playing games, and the fact that the violent tendencies they acquire from the virtual world lead them to have bad behavior in school.
Addiction to video games also has negative effects on the health of the players because they are physically inactive. Common health conditions suffered by people addicted to video games include obesity, depression, seizures, and various video induced disorders (Kowert & Quandt, 2015).
Depression can come about due to the effects of bullying and vulgar language commonly associated with the virtual world. Children are often at the highest risk of suffering from the pessimistic senses of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity because they keep remembering the bad things said to them by fellow online gamers who seek to intimidate their opponents to win (Vorderer & Bryant, 2012). Depressed children tend to be very anxious and suffer from social phobias that limit their ability to socialize normally throughout their lives. Other notable negative consequences of addiction to video games include sleep disturbances, backaches, eating disorders, poor personal hygiene, and migraines among others (Rigby & Ryan, 2011).
Positive consequences of addiction to video games
According to psychologists and child experts, video games help children to exercise their brains as much as the other forms of exercise and fun activities. In most video games, the ability of a player to win or complete a mission often depends a lot on their level of thinking because one ought to be very smart (Rigby & Ryan, 2011). People have innate mental skills that are enhanced when they start playing video games because they have to put their creativity into practice for them to win. Research has established that people who play video games regularly or start playing at a tender age tend to have high-level thinking skills compared to others. Apart from enhanced thinking skills, addiction to video games yields several other benefits to the affected individual.
First, it helps one in becoming better at following instructions (Clark & Scott, 2009). Most video games involve missions that require the player to follow a certain set of instructions to move from one level to another. Due to the desire to complete the mission or the goal successfully, the player has to follow all the instructions carefully. With time, this becomes part of them and often reflects in all their engagements (Rigby & Ryan, 2011).
Second, addiction to video games helps the player in problem-solving and making reasoned judgments (Clark & Scott, 2009). Tricky video games such as Angry Birds help the player to be more creative to complete various puzzles within a set timeline. Third, addiction to video games helps the player to achieve better coordination between the mind, eyes, and hands. Studies have established that combat and military-based games require the player to be good coordination of the three elements (Kowert & Quandt, 2015).
Therefore, anyone who plays the games for a very long time often develops better coordination because the brain will learn to interpret the game’s requirements more effectively. Motoring games also help players to refine their motoring skills because keeping the cars and motorbikes on track requires good coordination between the eyes and the interpretation made in the brain (Clark & Scott, 2009). The same concept applies when driving in the real world. Motoring games also help the player to learn spatial skills and the ability to maintain concentration over a long period.
Psychologists argue that addiction to video games also helps one to learn the art of multitasking. This mainly happens because video games involve tracking, interpreting, and executing numerous commands using variables that keep changing (Clark & Scott, 2009).
Most games are designed in a manner that the player constantly deals with enemies and obstacles that require a high degree of multitasking to survive. Multitasking in video games involves the ability of the player to be flexible, as well as identify and execute new tactics in an effective manner. Video games are also effective in helping people learn the art of working together in teams because the more one plays in a team the more they develop a sense of cooperation (Vorderer & Bryant, 2012).
Video games are one of the many activities that people use for recreation and leisure purposes. Over the years, they have attracted a lot of controversy with regard to the effect they have on players. Although video games are very addictive, studies have established that they have more positive than negative consequences. The most important thing that parents should do with children that love playing video games is regulating the time and games they play.
Parents should help their children to turn the experience of playing video games into a learning experience. They should ensure that children take breaks to engage in physical exercises, family activities, and other social events. With the right guidance and regulation, video games are good because children tend to learn essential life skills such as the art of socializing, skillfulness, and building a winning mentality from an early age.
Clark, N., & Scott, S. (2009). Games Addiction: The Experience and the Effects. San Francisco, CA: McFarland.
Kowert, R., & Quandt, T. (2015). The Video Game Debate: Unraveling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games. New York, NY: Routledge.
Rigby, S., & Ryan, R.M. (2011). Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw us In and Hold us Spellbound. Los Angels, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Vorderer, P., & Bryant, J. (2012). Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences. New York, NY: Routledge.