Video Games and the Effects on Children
Estrella Mountain Community College
How do video games affect the minds, behavior and health of children and teens? This article will discuss this matter to inform people about the dangers of this type of entertainment. Ever since video games have become more advanced, this problem has come up countless times, ranging from government officials to the parents of these children. Parents should take this into consideration with their children when playing video games: video games affect their thoughts, behaviors and health in a negative way and could get worse with prolonged use and if they become addicted to them. Past or current medical conditions in children also will be affected by video games. While calling video games dangerous, it may also be beneficial or have no effect whatsoever on children. This will all be explained using other scholarly sources and my own observations to help me come to a conclusion and consensus on the matter.
Violence in Video Games
Throughout the years, video games have been thought to be too violent for children. So violent that kids who have committed crimes are said that video games are to blame. Guy Porter and Vladan Starcevic (2007) did a study on the relationship between violence and video games to find some answers. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two students that went to Columbine High School in 1999 who went on a killing spree at their school, may have been influenced by the 1993 first person shooter game “Doom.” The two students claimed that the rampage would be “just like Doom” in a video they made before the shooting. These “first person shooters” are much more realistic and interactive than other games because it gives you the feel you are actually there in that world. Children get lost in it and want to actually experience what they are playing and their violence may get worse. Many other crimes committed by younger people have been blamed on other violent games with criminal activity, like “Grand Theft Auto.” This game seems to be blamed the most due to its violent and profane nature. People who are affected by this blame these violent video games quickly and file charges against the software companies and distributors. Odd thing is, despite sales of video games going up from $4 billion in the mid-1990s to over $7 billion in 2004, violent crime rates have fallen drastically.
Children’s behavior may have been affected by these violent video games in a negative way. Mental health professionals should take into consideration the antisocial traits and aggressive behavior with the adolescents who play these violent video games. These children may be dangerous when they play these games because of the hostile, antisocial, or criminal traits they may have. They should be kept from playing these games as these traits could come out and may hurt themselves or someone else. Despite this, however, it does not mean that kids playing these games will develop aggressive behavior and could stay the same way they are. Parents should monitor their kids when playing violent games so they can reinforce the negative behavior. Though kids may get behavior issues from violent video games, another issue from games may develop: addiction.
The Addictive Playtime
Children are vulnerable to develop a strong addiction to video games. Children who play video games hours on end may become addicted. According to a study done on teenagers in Taiwan by Shao-I Chiu, Ed.D., Jie-Zhi Lee, M.A., and Der-Hsiang Huang, Ph.D. (2004), the earliest age for playing games is around 8 years old. They play around 3 times a week for about 2 hours each time. They play these games at web cafes and electronic stores too at 0.54 times and 0.45 times, respectively, with the most popular games being the action and adventure genres. Addiction to video games is started due to “family functions, sensation seeking, and boredom inclination” (p. 579). With addiction, the higher it is, the stronger the hostility becomes in the teenagers behavior.
Measures should be taken by parents to prevent video game addiction. Parents should know what types of games their children are playing, what its contents are, where they are playing them and who they are playing them with and should monitor their game play at home to keep an eye on them. Parents should spend these hours with their children and find more games to benefit them, rather than just entertaining them, and watch out what kind of games they buy their children. They should also encourage their kids to do different and more productive activities and look at the negative effects of video game addiction. When these games become a problem in children’s lives, their academic performance is put into question.
School Time Is No Time to Play Games
Playing video games is always looked at being harmful to children’s academics. The odd thing is, in many cases, there are no harmful effects on their school work. Doctors Marko M. Skoric, Ph.D., Linda Lay Ching Teo, M.M.C., and Rachel Lijie Neo, B.A. (2009) did a study on the effects of video games on academics. Children who devote much time to game play also devote enough time to do their homework and keep their grades up just enough to get by. With video games today, much dialog is presented in the game. This actually helps children learn vocabulary, sentence structure and a better hang on the English language and can boost up English test scores.
Video games may actually help kids learn and do better in school, especially with early childhood children. A study done by Feng S. Din and Josephine Calao (2001) shows that kindergartners are learning more in terms of verbal skills from interactive games that teach them while they have fun. Unfortunately, their results showed that they did not improve on their math skills from playing these games; not because of the lack of quality in the game, but because it may be they are not mature enough. It is harder for children to learn something when they are not ready to.
Do Not Get Too Excited, It is Just a Game
What’s worse than their behavior and academics being affected, is that children’s health is also at risk. Video games have risky cardiovascular effects on the adolescence. Heart rate and blood pressure rise when playing these games from the excitement and engagement. According to a study done by Peter Borusiak, Anastasios Bouikidis, Ru¨Diger Liersch, and Jarrod B. Russel (2008) on the cardiovascular effects in adolescents when playing video games, they found that there is a significant increase of heart rate and blood rate when playing games. These effects continued in two game phases conducted by these doctors of a racing video game lasting 12 minutes each. Playing these video games may cause blood pressure to rise and may cause a possible risk for unpleasant effects to the heart and cardiovascular system.
In relation to these cardiovascular effects, aggression could raise with video games. According to a study done by Cheryl K. Olson, Lawrence A. Kutner, Lee Baer, Eugene V. Beresin, Dorothy E. Warner, and Armand M. Nicholi II (2009), M-rated video games may be linked to aggressive behaviors. They found that children playing these rated M games are displaying bullying behaviors and physical aggression. The odds of these behaviors rising is based on how much they play these rated M games. Though video games have effects on children’s hearts and behaviors, their brains are also at risk.
The Problem with Video Games and Epilepsy
Children are at risk for developing epilepsy or having seizures when playing video games. A study done by Michelle Bureau, Edouard Hirsch, and Federico Vigevano (2004) showed that video games could trigger seizures and develop epilepsy in children with flashing patterns and bright colors. Actions should be taken by the video game companies to change standards of the appearance of video games. What should be looked at concerning this is the flash rate, choice of colors, patterns and contrast. All should be lowered to avoid the problem of causing video game induced seizures. Parents should be instructed to keep their children away 2 meters from the television when their children play games to prevent epileptic seizures or to prevent epilepsy from developing. These video games are rather harmful to children with a history of epilepsy and pose a huge threat to their health.
So, how do video games affect the minds, behavior and health of children and teens? Based upon the evidence, video games negatively affect children. It makes them more violent and aggressive, they can become addicted to them, it can affect their education, and it can cause cardiovascular and epilepsy problems. Although they may be fun and entertaining, video games do pose a threat to children’s lives. Yet, other children are not affected by video games in this matter and do not need to be worried about. Parents should definitely step in and try to help their children resolve this problem so the situation does not get worse.
Borusiak, P., Bouikidis, A., Liersch, R., & Russel, (2008). Cardiovascular effects in adolescents while they are playing video games: A potential health risk factor? Psychophysiology, 45, 327–332. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database
Bureau, M., Hirsch, E., & Vigevano, F. (2004). Epulepsy and Video Games. Epilepsia, 45, 24-26. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database
Chiu, S., Lee, J., & Huang, D. (2004). Video Game Addiction in Children and Teenagers in Taiwan. CyberPsychology, 7, 571-581. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database
Din, F. S., & Calao, J. (2001). The Effects of Playing Educational Video Games on Kindergarten Achievement. Child Study Journal, 31, 95-102. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database
Porter, G., & Starcevic, V. (2007). Are Violent Video Games Harmful? Australian Psychiatry, 15, 422-426. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database
Skoric, M. M., Teo, L. L. C., & Neo, R. L. (2009). Children and Video Games: Addiction, Engagement, and Scholastic Achievement. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12, 567-572. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database