Nowadays, it is extremely common to hear debates pertaining to the harsh or negative effects of video games in children and teenagers due to the available games in the market. Many concerned parents and experts have noted that video games nowadays present questionable and inappropriate content that may present negative impacts to children. Of course, there are people that note that there are other games that foster positive impacts to children and there are even some instances that young gamers learn skills not easily learnt through normal circumstances such as strategy and coordination. Nonetheless, many agree that given the recent trends in child gamers and the recorded cases wherein some children tried to re-enact scenes from their favorite video games, it clearly shows that video games present negative effects to children.
Video games are notably bad for children as it influences their physical, social and mental development. Medical professionals have noted that several types of physical complications have been recorded amongst young gamers. Rheumatologists have noted cases of ‘Nintendinitis’, a complication wherein players develop skin, joint and muscle injuries from repeatedly hitting buttons or joystick handling from continuous video gaming. Surveys have indicated that most young video gamers that many have complained the development of calluses, sore tendons and numbness due to their playing. Some case studies have also added that some players developed severe wrist-neck-elbow pain, tensynvitis (another name for Nintendinitis), peripheral neuropathy, enuresis, epileptic seizures and hallucinations; which all tended to prove difficult in case of treatment. While medical practitioners noted that simply stopping for a break or limiting themselves from playing longer hours in their consoles or computers would be enough to reduce the physical strains of video gaming, it had already been noted by most doctors that children tend to find themselves experiencing continuous pain and loss of use of their muscles and joints due to them being reported to have RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury . Aside from these complications, with children concentrating more on their video games, they tend to disregard or forego traditional games and activities outside the house. They also prefer eating junk foods or not eating at all, and taking no breaks as they do not want to be disturbed to move around in favor of their games. As a result of this, many child gamers tend to become obese and contract complications such as high blood pressure, heart complications and even paralysis.
Aside from physical risks, there are also social risks that video games entail, which is detrimental to the development of social skills and outlook of child gamers. With video games enticing children to spend long hours on the television or computer screen, they tend to spend the whole day or more glued to their game without taking a break to do other activities. Aside from the medical effects of prolonged gaming, children tend to develop social withdrawal tendencies as they prefer staying online to play rather than socializing. While some would argue that video games nowadays enable friends to play against each other, it no longer has a personal and physical attachment that fosters friendships. Some would even break apart because of a lost challenge or round in one of their games, making them rivals. It has also been noted that these children are slowly losing interest in outdoor activities and games that would enable them to both stay healthy, and maintain good familial ties with their friends and family. It has been noted by studies that some young gamers tend to disillusion themselves and tend to treat their video games as their friends .
The most notable effect of video games in children is the capacity of video games to influence the mental development and perception of children considering the content and genre they prefer. With the average of 6 hours or longer worth of gameplay, some children tend to lean more towards the virtual world and lose their hold over reality. They tend to get stuck to their fantasy as video games enable them to play their ideal characters and would find ways to try embodying them in real life. In cases wherein young gamers tend to put themselves as the characters, they try to come up with ways to attain the same props or in some cases, weapons to re-enact the scenes they wish to portray. Experts believe that this is a dangerous effect of video games that must be prevented at all costs considering the violent and illusory content of video games preferred by children. Aggression and violent tendencies tend to develop as the child continues to mimic the games they play and believe their distorted realities. Several cases of children and teens that have removed themselves from reality ended up committing crimes such as shooting and killing; one notable example is the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999 as the two shooters were avid fans of the game “Doom” .
In addition to this, there have been studies done in the United States wherein young players who play violent video games tend to exhibit low bouts of self-control, which influences their thoughts to become more aggressive and violent similar to the games they play. The study had accounted that given the interactivity of games nowadays, it adds to the realistic possibility and value of these game scenes to be re-enacted or believed as it would enable players to grasp the game fully. As the game progresses, players are introduced to aggressive notions since they would have to kill or hurt someone in the game to level up or pass the next level, learning new aggressive skills throughout each level. With the player done with one violent game, he or she would then find measures to apply what they learn in these games in real-life situations and gain items to re-enact . Aside from this, a study in 2001 revealed that high video games tend to impact not just the gamer’s mental capacity, but their emotional functions that then influences their social behavior. In the study, young gamers tend to forgo protection when engaging sexual intercourse; which then increases the risks to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The longer the younger player immerses himself or herself to violent games; the more aggressiveness tends to develop in both his behavior and functions .
With the available games in the market and the increasing behavioral changes it causes gamers, it is notable that the negative effects of video games outweigh its positive effects especially in children. The increasing cases of children becoming aggressive and developing anti-social and physical disabilities continue to increase each year and these numbers do not dwindle despite the available games that do not entice children to develop ill-habits in gaming. It is essential for parents, experts, and to the young gamers the severe effects video gaming can cause to a child’s development. If children are not given the proper attention and education over the effects of video games to their future, it is plausible that a person is denying their right to grow as active and law-abiding citizens.
Anderson, Craig and Brad Bushman. “Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature.” Psychological Science 12.5 (2001): 353-359. Print.
Anderson, P and K Butcher. “Childhood Obesity: Trends and Potential Causes.” Paxon, C. Childhood Obesity: The Future of Children. Princeton: Brookings Institution Press, 2006. 19-46. Print.
Dang, Jimmy, Jin Lee and Chau Nguyen. “Playing with Ethics: Video Game Controversy.” Hovorka, Dirk. The Ethical Imperative in the Context of Evolving Technologies. Boulder: Ethica Publishing, 2007. 137-148. Print.
Gunter, Barrie. The Effects of Video Games on Children: The Myth Unmasked. Sheffield: Continuum International Publishing Group, 1998. Print.
Kirsh, Steven. Children, adolescents, and media violence: a critical look at the research. London: SAGE Publications, 2006. Print.