The video game industry is experiencing a moment of splendor. Its effects on adolescents and, above all, on children have been much discussed. Now, like television, proper use of video games has beneficial effects on the child or adolescent.
Harmful effects due to uncontrolled use of video games:
- Ludopathy: They can be a serious disorder in life. The player is obsessive, has lost control over the game and resorts to lies to continue playing.
- Individualism: the use of the videogame is put before other activities such as sports, reading or contact with friends. There is a break with social life, leading to isolation from dire consequences.
- Loss of the notion of reality: in the most serious cases, the excessive practice of these games leads the child to escape from the real world by locking himself in another virtual one.
- Depression and anxiety: the attention placed on the game develops exhaustion and fatigue of the nervous system with the appearance of symptoms of depression or anxiety. There is a significant deterioration in academic performance in those cases.
- Violent behavior: These children lose control over themselves, which even leads to the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when they cannot practice them or are deprived of their use, together with impulsive and violent behavior.
- Overweight: excessive use of video games causes a higher risk of developing a sedentary lifestyle that is harmful to the health of the child or adolescent this, together with the consumption of harmful foods triggers the appearance of overweight and obesity.
- Other health problems: appearance of discomfort in the eyes with symptoms of irritation, headaches, muscle aches and tendonitis.
Problems arising from the content
Especially harmful are violent games (war, destruction, street violence, abuses), with racist or sexist content (woman as a prize or victim). They can lead to personality problems, by introducing behavior patterns at a time of the child’s formation, aggressive behaviors and contempt for others (xenophobia, machismo …) and a limitation of creativity and imagination.
Problems derived from the economic cost
Video games often exert consumerist pressure on children and parents. The purchase of devices with a high economic cost can mean a disproportionate gift or prize for the intended purpose.
Usually when a game has been mastered, the player goes in search of the next one, establishing a cyclical rhythm, which ultimately leaves the child unsatisfied. This can force a significant economic expense for a child or adolescent, which in certain cases can lead them to commit even small thefts or robberies.
Positive effects of video games:
- Social reinforcement. The exchange of games can favor social contact and participation in common activities. In this sense, team video games are another way to maintain or encourage contact between friends.
- Effort. Trying to achieve the objectives of the game enhances the effort and in the case of losing, helps to tolerate failure. It also enhances the ability to make decisions and awareness of the importance of putting effort
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- And memory skills. Visual and manual coordination and the acquisition of manual skills are favored. Memory and the ability to retain numerical concepts and color identification are stimulated.
The key is to understand that the use of video games can be beneficial or harmful depending on how we use them. In this regard, some recommendations:
- Control the time dedicated to its use: Some authors suggest not devoting more than three to four hours a week to the practice of this activity.
- We can use it as a prize (when they finish their homework, helping at home, etc
- Monitor the content: We must ensure that they are appropriate for the child’s age. It is good to release them with them to see that they contain no danger.
- Enhancing family life: Video games are adopted by children and especially by adolescents to fill a void. Playing with them is another incentive to encourage communication and contact with children, although this takes some time.
- They can fulfill an educational mission, but that will be completed with other activities such as art, sports or reading.
High risk situations
Parents should be alert when the child or adolescent presents a behavior not adapted to the correct use of video games:
- Compulsive use of the game console such as turning it on as soon as you get up, or take advantage of any free time to use it.
- Appearance of changes in behavior (impulsivity, violence) and school performance.
- Development of an exaggerated individualism.
- Abandonment of other activities or hobbies such as sports, reading or friends.
- Realization of small thefts and the consequent denial if they are interrogated.
At this point, and in the presence of data that may indicate the existence of a serious problem in relation to video games, it will be advisable to resort to the advice of medical specialists or counselors to treat each case correctly.
Piran is the bestselling author of the Zobuz, TheHearus and other well known Blogs. Her books have sold hundred of copies and are published in different languages.