July 25 2019
How do Video Games Affect Children
Video games aren’t going anywhere in 2016 more than 150 million people in the united states alone play at least 3 hours a week. And in 2016 24.5 billion copies of games were sold and that number has been increasing every year. I always see on the news people talking about how video games are hurting kids but they never talk about all the good they can do as well. Games are just like food or alcohol they really aren’t harmful in moderation, its when you become addicted when it really starts becoming a problem. It is true that games can become addictive and promote violence but they also help with puzzle solving and hand eye coordination. A Lot of people only talk about the bad but im here to tell the facts so you can decide.
In 2017 Medical News Today published an article(Nichols) that analyzed 116 scientific studies and this is what they found. The studies showed that playing video games did many things to the brain. They show that the games helped with the subjects attention but primarily sustained and selective attention. They also noticed that the regions of the brain that deal with attention take less activation to turn on and stay focused. The final thing they noticed was that after long term gaming the right hippocampus had actually become enlarged which helps with visuospatial recognition. When 116 studies all come up with the same results then those are some pretty undeniable results. This shows that from a young if kids played video games they would actually pay better attention but it would also be easier for them to pay attention because it would require less work. This is very important because at around age 6 kids literally only have an attention span of 5 minutes so giving them something fun and inviting like a game would help develop their brains a lot and help down the line.
Video games aren’t all good though. Video Games have been proven to raise stress levels for the person playing them. That is why parents who have kids that game a lot note that they tend to act irritable. The games are triggering the fight or flight response in the brain so the slightest thing can set them off (Dunckley). The stimulation, the dopamine that is released when they are doing good, the increased heart rate as they get closer to winning or losing all fed directly into the reactionary system so when they finally beat that level they let out a big BOOYAW or when they lose again they scream and throw the controller. This amount of stress is not safe for kids as it’ll cause them to have “trouble managing emotions, suppressing impulses, following directions, dealing with frustration, and executing tasks”(Dunckley). This is all just multiplied if the kid stays up late playing the game and then all the sudden turns it off and tries to sleep. This will cause them to toss and turn because their brain is still so active that it cant sleep and hinder the amount of REM(deep sleep) the child will get which will make the problems worse. Doctor Dunckley recommends that kids can play games but in very limited quantities and no screens 1 hour before bed time.
In his article Rick Missimer talks about the positive and negative sides of videogames and the main good that videogames have is that they are invaluable to teach kids “some essential skills like strategic thinking, innovative thinking and co-operation”(missimer).When faced with a new problem or a new level in a game you have to use your whole brain to come up with a plan to get past this. Maybe you fail but even in failing you will learn something plus failure just pushes you to try harder and try new ideas. Most games now are either cooperative or online and this allows the gamer to work on their teamwork and communication. One game I play a lot is rainbow six siege and the only way to play is 5 people versus 5 people so you have to work with and communicate with your team who could be completely random people from around the globe that you have to work with to win. You could ignore them or be rude and lose or you talk to them and work as a team to get the job done sure maybe you still lose but maybe you made a new friend or learned something new. Being able to communicate and work with people is an extremely vital skill to have in the real world so being able to practice it and play a game sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
So far games seem pretty good right? Well we haven’t gotten to the biggest downside of video games yet, addiction. Patrick Markey and Christopher Ferguson published a book in 2017 that says “video gaming raises dopamine levels in the brain to about the same degree that eating a slice of pepperoni pizza or dish of ice cream does” they then continue on and say “it raises dopamine to roughly double it’s normal resting level, whereas drugs like heroin, cocaine, or amphetamines raise dopamine by roughly ten times that much”(Gray). This goes to show that games aren’t nearly as addictive as we think they are. People still can become addicted and have negative effects but the addiction comes from somewhere else other than purely dopamine and reward based. In Doctor Grays article he says “Research shows that the great majority of video gamers, including those who are heavily immersed in games and spend large amounts of time at them, are at least as healthy psychologically, socially, and physically as are non-gamers”(gray). So why do people make such a big deal about being addicted to games when people who play a game that much don’t even get affected. Most scientists agree that people aren’t addicted to the game itself they’re addicted to the escape it gives them from the real world which is a big problem. The more and more you become detached from reality the more and more dangerous you become because you start to believe things that aren’t true which i think is where people get the idea that video games make people dangerous because they look at the most extreme cases and that gives them the wrong idea. People can play violent video games and not be violent themselves but once they start imagining themselves in that world is when they start bringing that violence into the real world. That doesn’t sound like addiction that sounds like they have a mental problem that causes them to feel detached from real life and hide in their video games.
Video games absolutely have their pros and cons so It’s up to you to decide how long you let kids play and what games you let them play because that could help them in the future or throw them into being a social outcast. The scary thing is that everyone is different and everyone will react differently to different stimulus so we have no way of knowing what will happen to kids when they play video games.
Dunckley, Victoria. “This Is Your Child’s Brain on Video Games.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 25 Sept. 2016, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201609/is-your-childs-brain-video-games.
Gray, Peter. “Sense and Nonsense About Video Game Addiction.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Mar. 2018, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201803/sense-and-nonsense-about-video-game-addiction.
Missimer, Rick. “The Impact of Video Games on Children.” HealthGuidance, http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/11051/1/The-Impact-of-Video-Games-on-Children.html.
Nichols, Hannah. “How Video Games Affect the Brain.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 10 July 2017, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318345.php.