I’ve said it before it and I’ll say it again. I have the best job in the world. I mean I get to write about video games, movies, TV shows and even video game consoles. Seriously, I’ve got a kick ass posts about the history of gaming consoles, that’s worth revisiting again if you’re interested. Check it out. So, yeah you might say that I lucked out, but every once in awhile I’ll diverge from my usual format and write about something rather different. Case in point… Children and video games. But more specifically…
How video games affect the children’s minds, communication and their overall well-being? As I mentioned earlier. This will be a rather different post, but cool and thought-provoking at the same time.
And it makes perfect sense, to be honest. IndieGala is a company that develops, publishes, promotes and sells video games so it’s good to explore the other side of the story. You know, since children are part of a large global consumer demographic. And of course they’re the bread and butter of every gaming company out there. But at the same time, they’re also the most vulnerable demographic bracket, and it’s good to know how video games are affecting them.
Video Games Have A Bad Rep?
Honestly, they did for a long time, and things are not improving all that much. But there’s progress nonetheless and it’s all thanks to the many studies (and surveys) on the subject. But I’ll get to that in a second. As I mentioned, for decades and decades prior, video games got the blaming treatment for pretty much everything. From childhood aggression and behavioral issues to terrorism.
Politicians especially love to point the finger at video games (most notably violent video games) after every mass shooting or similar incident. Hell, every US president does that regularly. Then it was the rock music, then violent movies and… well you get the picture. But for a long time, the video games were „the red flag“ in front of the raging bull. A trigger for many people in charge that would later serve as a cautionary tale for the declining youth of one’s nation. Video games were blamed for many tragedies from the past. Such as those in Columbine, and so many similar incidents since. And frankly, the media is not helping in that regard. But that’s an excellent topic for another post.
Video Games, Media, And Violence
However, here in this post, I’ll just mention that last year, researchers analyzed more than 200,000 news articles about 204 mass shootings over a 40-year period. And in the results of the study, they found that video games were eight times more likely to be mentioned when the shooting occurred at a school. Oh, and when the perpetrator of those shooting is a white male, rather than when the shooter was is an African American male. “When a white child from the suburbs commits a horrific violent act as a school shooting, then people are more likely to erroneously blame video games than if the child was African American.” it was stated in the study.
That’s according to the lead researcher Patrick Markey, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Villanova University. Also, the research was published last year in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, but aside from the pointing fingers, there’s zero empirical evidence to support those claims. ZERO.
But, besides the violence, every so often you hear about the dangers of gaming addiction among the youth. Not to mention, the physical effects on the children. Their posture, their sedentary lifestyle caused by video games and so on. It’s like video games cannot win, no matter how hard they try. But is it all that bad? Or there are some good things worth mentioning here? Indeed there are, and I’m here to talk about them.
The Positive Effects Of Video Games
Yes, there are positive effects and they’re plentiful, but hardly anyone mentioned them. First and foremost there’s the National Literacy Trust’s survey. It was conducted between November and December 2019 and interviewed 4,626 people between the ages of 11 and 16 from across the UK. However, the results of the survey showed something else. More than a third (35.3%) of the children who play said they believe games make them better readers. And the vast majority (79.4%) saying they read materials related to gaming once a month. The materials included in-game communications, reviews and books.
Additionally, “Young people said that playing video games helps them to build social connections both ‘in real life’ and online,” the researchers said. Not to mention, “Many young people said that playing video games helps them either deal with or escape from, stress and difficult emotions,” researchers noticed from the survey.
Furthermore, 3 in 5 (62.5%) young people who play video games write something relating to them once a month, including game scripts (27.5%), advice to help other players (22.1%), write fan fiction (10.8%) and blogs or reviews (8.0%).
Next, 3 in 4 (76.3%) young people talk to their friends about video games compared with only 3 in 10 (29.4%) who discuss books.
And finally, 2 in 3 (65.0%) young people say playing video games helps them imagine being someone else. It also evokes empathy and compassion in them. Not rage or violence, as many would have us believe. And it just goes to show that the even social aspect in the child’s developmental stages is not compromised because of the video games. On the contrary.
A View From A Gamer’s Perspective
Erik Kain, a senior contributor at Forbes magazine even elaborated this particular in his article „It’s True: Violent Video Games Are Totally Sick“. He said in his article:
Whether stomping on a goomba or shooting a Nazi, is a form of puzzle-solving. It involves reaction time, skill, precision and patience. Requires learning systems and mechanics. It requires practice. The act of killing in video games is far detached from the act of killing real life. And even though there is an abundance of ultra-violent clips to draw from, most violence in games is much tamer. Well, compared to the stuff certain activists show us to make us afraid. Most of the time in Call of Duty, you’re not seeing blood splatter or heads explode.
However, he still advocates for a limit on the children’s exposure to violence regardless of where it’s coming from. From the media to pretty much everything else. He states that kids should be kids, while they have a chance. It’s a brief period in every person’s life and they’re in for a lifetime of violence, murder and destruction. Let their innocence linger for a bit longer. Which I agree, but not every game is violent. And some games have positive results on cognitive behavior, especially in developing minds like the children’s minds. Some of the games help with the children’s development.
Check Out The Studies
Doctor Marc Palaus (from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) and his colleagues collected the results from 116 scientific studies on the subject. And 22 of them looked at structural changes in the brain while the rest looked at changes in brain functionality and/or behavior. The studies show that playing video games can change how our brains perform, and even their structure.
For example, playing video games affects our attention, and some studies found that gamers show improvements in several types of attention. Such as sustained attention or selective attention. The brain regions involved in attention are also more efficient in gamers and require less activation to sustain attention on demanding tasks. And when you have a developing mind like that of a child, it’s a good and positive effect, don’t you think?
There is also evidence that video games can increase the size and efficiency of brain regions related to visuospatial skills. For example, the right hippocampus was enlarged in both long-term gamers and volunteers following a video game training program.
Who Plays Video Games More… Boys Or Girls?
You’ve guessed it. On the topic of sex, a similar study confirmed something that we already knew before. Boys are much more likely to play video games than girls (95.6% vs 65.2%). It’s been like this for ages, but in recent years that gap is getting really narrow.
Furthermore according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, among the surveyed teen gamers aged 13-17, 53 percent are boys and 47 percent are girls. Organization president Jayson Hilchie says boys are more often playing on consoles like Xbox, Playstation, or Nintendo, while girls preferred PC. And another observation about the great divide is that boys like to discuss the games that they played with their peers. According to Hilchie, girls are less likely to discuss games in public, but there’s an ongoing debate on whether or not really boys are better at playing them. Well, compared to girls anyway.
Tell Us Your Thoughts On This
What’s your stance on the effect of video games on children? Do you think they’re beneficial for children and improve their mental, social and educational areas? Or You think they’re a bad influence on the young person’s development?