The world of today has developed in a way that even children are affected by technology. They enjoy video games in their leisure time and even prefer them to studying that, in its turn, can contribute to their poor performance in the class. These days, video games have become an issue that has brought concern to many people from parents to scholars about their potential effect on the future of children through influencing their conduct. They feel that the violent behavior or any other negative consequence can occur as an undesirable result of letting their children utilize these games to spend good time. In fact, every parent wonders whether participation of their children in playing video games may cause them to be more violent. The opinions on the issue whether video games are useful or harmful are very different. The opponents of video games argue that this kind of entertainment increases the risk of violent in children. On the contrary, the proponents of video games see more benefits than disadvantages for children who play these games. Therefore, making the best for children who like to play video games and trying to decrease the potential negative effect of them on a child’s development is a real challenge as the existence of some flawed effects cannot be denied. Different aspects of most video games do not raise violent behavior in children if the young adults play the games that develop their cognitive, social, problem-solving, reading and physical skills.
Playing video games can enhance children’s cognitive, social and physical development; however, not all kinds of games are that beneficial. Samantha Olson (2014) cites the research of the Nanyang Technological University that demonstrated the difference between a shooted called “Modern Combat,” arcade called “Fruit Ninja,” a strategy called “StarFront Collision,” and a puzzle game called “Cut the Rope” in enhancing general intelligence and problem-solving skills. Olson (2014) sums the results up, “Cut the Rope” came in first place for improving executive brain functions, which categorize memory, decision-making, planning, and problem solving, while the other games showed no benefits” (p. 1). In fact, the improvement of different skills of a child depends on the choosing of the right game to play because not all the games improve their ability. Therefore, the right choice of a game to play is extremely important for achievement of positive effect of video games on children’s cognitive, social and physical development.
A number of researches show that playing video games benefits children in terms of the development of cognitive and social skills. According to Tri (n.d.), today, “medical schools, military and police academies are making use of these programs (video games) to help their employees ‘train’ for the scenarios that lie ahead” (p. 1). Thus, the positive effect of video games on an individual’s cognitive skills is accepted by many institutions. Therefore, they might be used for achievement of the same effect of development of cognitive skills in children as well. According to a review by Lisa Bowen (2014) published by American Psychological Association, video game play can rise children’ ability to learn and improve their social skills. Bowen (2014) argues that despite the fact that “one widely held view maintains that playing video games is intellectually lazy, such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception” (p. 10). Bowen (2014) also cites 2013 meta-analysis that found the positive effect of playing shooter video games such as improvement of the capacity of a player “to think about objects in three dimensions just as well as academic courses designed to enhance these same skills” (p. 10). The researchers also found that children playing some action games have improved their ability for fast decision making. According to the research of The University of Rochester (2010), “action video game players’ brains are more efficient collectors of visual and auditory information, and therefore arrive at the necessary threshold of information they need to make a decision much faster than non-gamers” (p. 1). The games also make the user realize more quickly what is happening around him than the normal person who does not play such games (Boys.com,n.d.). Playing video games does not help children to be better in playing these games as the only benefit, however, helps them in improving a wide range of daily skills that they can use or will use in the future. These skills include driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd and navigating around town (The University of Rochester, 2010). In addition, such games as “Monopoly,” “Scrabble” or “Backgammon” are also a good evidence for how video games should be used to improve the problem-solving and logic skills of children. It is because these games need their users to apply strong thinking and increase their mathematical abilities. A game called “Clue” is a clear evidence of how a single game can improve the logic skills of a person who plays it. At the same time, Bowen (2014) explains that playing other types of video games that include elements of puzzles and role-playing do not enhance cognitive skills as much as shooters do. Nevertheless, the positive effect of video games on cognitive development of children cannot be denied or underestimated as they do enhance their memory, navigation and perception among other important skills.
In fact, the researchers found that playing certain kind of games can improve the ability of thinking and reading in children. The game called “Cut the Rope” serves as a great example of the positive effect of video games on brain. This game is very popular today with 400 million users across the globe (Olson, 2014). The secret of its popularity lies not only in its colorful interface, but in its interestingness and improvement of attention, thinking and problem solving in its users. Olson (2014) writes that the researchers of the Nanyang Technological University state that certain games and “Cut the Rope” in particular can increase the ability of its users to think on their own and solve difficult puzzles. Olson (2014) claims that the study of the Nanyang Technological University “found a link between action video game, enhanced attention, and visual-perception skills of the game ‘Cut the Rope’” (p. 1). Thus, the game influences a wide range of skills in addition to thinking. Olson (2014) demonstrates the results of the research that showed that “after 20 hours of playing, the ‘Cut the Rope’ group was able to concentrate 60 percent better, switch between different tasks 33 percent faster, and adapt to new situations better” (p. 1).In addition, playing some video games can develop new skills like reading because some need the user to read more instructions to go further in the game and make their observation skills improve (Creative Teaching Site, 2011). It can also make them have the developing strategies skills. It is a new skill learned from paying specific video games.
Some of the new video games we see nowadays can encourage kids to have bodily exercises. According to Bowen (2014), playing video games may even improve health of the players in the way of increasing their activity. Rick Nauert (2013) writes that the growing number of researches show that “exergaming – using active console video games that track player movement to control the game (e.g., Xbox-Kinect, Wii) — can increase physical activity in kids” (p. 1). For instance, Wii and Xbox-Kinect require the users to move while playing the game, and this leads to a loss of calories. At the same time, children not only entertain themselves, but do useful exercises. In its turn, it leads to sensible fitness in the case if the games are played regularly. In addition, playing these video games may contribute to their increased interest in the actual game in real life. For instance, they may be interested to try to play the games like Tennis not only in video game, but in real life as well. Nowadays, all the comments about video games are that they make the children lazy and isolated individuals. However, it is not the only side of the subject. If the intensive use of some video games can have the effects mentioned above, the other side of the coin says that active console video games can help the children to get interested in sports, dance and other kinds of physical activities, and thus, improve their health. Nauert (2013) cites the results of the researchers from The University of Western Australia, and Swansea University, who found that active console video games such as “Kinect Sports: 200m Hurdles” and “Kinect Sports: Ten Pin Bowling” improve vascular health in children, increase their heart rate as well as the amount of energy they burn. There is indeed a serious problem with obesity in children. Nauert (2013) claims that less than “50 percent of boys of primary school-aged boys and fewer than 28 percent of girls meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required to maintain health” (p. 1). There is a true possibility that active console video games can help to solve this problem. Thus, it should even be recommended to use active video games for improvement of children’s health
All the points mentioned above account for the benefits of playing video games for children; however, there is also the other side of the subject that indicates the existence of some undesirable impacts of this activity. The main argument of opponents of video games lies in violent context of many of them and the possibility that it may contribute to brutal behavior in children. Accordingly, Rachael Rettner (2014) cites a study that involved children between age 8 and 17, who play violent video games, showed that the degree of violence in their behaviors has increased. Their violent behavior in real life included hitting and pushing among others (Rettner, 2014). On the other side, the research demonstrated that those children, who spent less time playing violent video games, showed lowered level of such aggressive behaviors (Rettner, 2014). The experiment held by Craig A. Anderson and Brad J. Bushman (2002) showed that “playing a violent video game for just 20 mins produced significant increases in expectations that potential conflict situations would be handled aggressively” (p. 1683). Thus, the games that include violent content can potentially influence children’s behavior.
However, the scale of the impact of video games on children’s behavior is not that great as it is viewed by many. On the contrary, many video games make children relax instead of making them aggressive. According to Bowen (2014), it is also essential to note that games such as “Angry Birds” can lead to the relaxation and mood modification of children. Such an effect of video games leads to the positive development of children behaviors and their mental health. Video games also help children to learn how to accept their losses, and thus, children learn to build emotional resilience. The resilience they learn can be applied for their advantage in their everyday lives.
The opponents of video games also state that video games make children alienated from their peers; however, video games encourage children to communicate and co-operate. Anderson and Bushman (2002) argue that playing video games make children more isolated and make them participate less in other activities as well as spend less time on real sport. This statement has nothing in common with reality. As it was mentioned before, active console video games encourage children to be physically active. Even more, games that allows multi player encourage children to work in cooperation with others to achieve their goals. Thus, by encouraging them to play together with other children or adults, video games make kids socially active.
The opponents of video games cite another negative impact of these games on children, and on boys in particular, that claims that they can damage parts in children brain. According THV 11 Staff (2012), some studies, including the book by Phillip Zimbardo entitled The Demise of Guys, show that video games can damage a part of a boy’s brain that is related to motivation in particular. THV 11 Staff (2012) demonstrate one of the negative consequences of excessive video game playing such as the fact that girls are more successful than boys in schools and earn more bachelor’s, Master’s and doctorate degrees nowadays. However, the increase of girls in earning degrees can be explained by emancipation and the fact that there is no discrimination in institutions in terms of gender.
Instead of making children study worse, video games help children improve their grades through the development of their problem-solving skills. Bowen (2014) cites a long-term study of 2013, according to which “the more adolescents reported playing strategic video games, such as role-playing games, the more they improved in problem solving and school grades the following year” (p. 10). The benefits of video game play can have especially good implications for children’s educational development as well as for their future career, for instance, in technology, science, and engineering.
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Thus, different aspects of most video games do not raise violent behavior in children if they choose the games that develop their cognitive, social, problem-solving, reading and physical skills among others. Technology has really brought new things in the lives of people, most of which, however, are still met with superstition. Video games are a unique way brought by technology that can be used for the advantage of children by developing their cognitive, social and problem-solving, and reading skills. These skills are helpful in dealing with problematic situations, thinking logically, analyzing information, adapting quickly, and acting accordingly based on a variety of different situations. At the same time, however, adults should take the responsibility for the games their children play. In fact, they should help children select the best games that cannot destructively influence their behavior and turn them into violent beings. Researchers have confirmed that video games have both positive and destructive impacts in the lives of children; however, the positive ones overcome the negative influence. Therefore, video games should be treated with concern to ensure that the games that the children play are those that can help them grow mentally and learn new important skills. The solution to the problem of violent games is in directing children to the right kind of games that develop their skills and the ones that make the best use of their time.