The subject of video games has from the beginning been a point of heated discussions. And, as usually happens with these kinds of topics, the answer on whether or not it is okay to let children play video games depends on many aspects. Let’s break down some of the most common misconceptions as well as benefits of children playing video games.
1. Children playing violent video games become more violent in real life: true or false?
Because there are so many individual variables involved, there isn’t one conclusive answer to this claim. Children respond differently to violence in video games depending on their environment and their personality traits. Thus, many factors can trigger aggressive behaviour.
The only way to know how video games affect your children is by observing them and setting a time limit for video games. But let’s not forget that the world of computer games abounds not only in violent games but also games focused on brain development. For example, Lumosity. Or princess dress-up games. Or farm games. Those are not violent, so the subject of whether video games are good or bad goes beyond the question of aggressive behaviour. Which leads to our next points.
2. Prolonged exposure to video games can be addictive, affecting child behaviour and physical health
It has been reported that children playing video games excessively may become addicted and exhibit pathological behavioural patterns. When your child is lethargic and seems unhappy when he or she isn’t playing a video game, be wary that it might be a sign of a developing addiction. Look out for other signs like increased reluctance to social situations or neglecting school and housework duties.
In times when computers abound in every household, it’s easier for children to spend their free time playing video games, especially when the weather outside seems uninviting. Kids spending a lot of time in front of a computer, can also become obese. That’s why it’s good to offer your child an alternative by turning on the music for a little dance around the house or to do plain ol’ wrestling or hide and seek.
3. Playing video games can improve a child’s development
Some studies found that playing video games can actually boost some areas of a child’s brain. For example, many games require a child to make quick decisions, which in turn, improves working memory and increases brain connectivity.
If a child has other brain-developing stimuli ensured such as various outdoor activities, book reading, etc., allowing your child a few hours of video games a week won’t do anyone any harm. In fact, with a plethora of educational video games available out there, just like specialized games used for researching ‘brain training,’ video games can be treated as another tool in helping a child’s brain develop cognitive skills. Although more research is needed in this field, as always.
Observe and control your child’s daily exposure to video games, and don’t be afraid to join in sometime. Playing video games together with your children can be a real fun!