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Pros And Cons of Video Games: Recommendations for Parents
Highlights from this Blog:
-Video games have both pros and cons. Inform yourself of the research to help you make the best decisions for your child and family. Research continues to evolve.
-It is important to set limits on video games.
-Internet safety is so important. Have these conversations with your children starting at an early age.
-Be informed of what games your children are playing and who they are communicating with online. Be mindful of any potentially detrimental impact video games may have on your child.
How children play has evolved significantly in the past couple of decades. Video games can be a controversial topic, but they are everywhere in society and often appeal to younger audiences. Video games are a multi-billion-dollar industry. Some studies have shown that over to 90% of children play video games (The Benefits of Playing Video Games (apa.org). They are everywhere. When I speak with children, many times they state their favorite thing to do is play video games. Why are they so popular? They are extremely engaging and produce a dopamine release in your brain by almost 100% (Dopamine: Are Video Games Hijacking Our Potential Players? – La Fleur's Lottery World (lafleurs.com). Competitive video games are the most fast paced and tend to release the most dopamine. Many of today’s popular games also reinforce you to keep playing, such as the more you play, the more items you can collect or the more rewards you earn. Is this a problem or are there actually benefits to playing video games? In this article, I will discuss some pros and cons of video games to help you make informed decisions, as well as recommendations which you as the parent can implement at home. Also, keep in mind that research has evolved and will continue to evolve over time.
Pros of video games:
1) Video games have been shown in multiple studies to improve various aspects related to cognitive functioning including: spatial memory, spatial ability, visual spatial skills, reaction time, mental flexibility, visual processing ability, multi-tasking ability, executive functioning, attentional processing, and working memory. (The Benefits of Playing Video Games – Effectiviology).
2) Modest amounts of video games per day (1 hour per day) have been shown in studies to be correlated with increased psychological adjustment and self-esteem (Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org).
3) Video games are a form of play.
4) Video games can teach teamwork and other life skills.
5) Video games can serve as a social outlet.
6) Students who master technology at an early age may be able to apply these skills more effectively in their future education and employment.
Cons of video games:
1) Do not feel alarmed but growing evidence has shown that video games can be addicting for a small amount of individuals. This involves a pattern of behavior which is difficult to control and continues despite substantial negative consequences in other areas of one’s life. Gaming Disorder recently received official recognition by the World Health Organization. More research needs to be done; however, a recent meta-analysis indicated 3.05% of people exhibit symptoms of gaming disorder. Notably, males exhibited these characteristics at a 2.5:1 rate compared to females. (Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org).
2) Children can potentially be exposed to a lot of violence and other unintended explicit content. Keep in mind that although a certain game can be rated as appropriate for your child, if they are playing with and chatting with random teammates and opponents online, they may be exposed to significantly more explicit and vulgar content.
3) Internet safety can be a serious concern. Again, not to alarm you, but please keep in mind that not everyone who plays games on the internet has positive intentions. It is extremely important to monitor who your child is interacting with online. Teach your children at an early age about the dangers of the internet. These conversations are so important to have.
What can you do?
1) Set clear limits and expectations for video game time and enforce them. Create a plan which states which hours your child can play video games. Enforce a digital curfew.
2) Historically, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours per day of screen-based entertainment. Recent guidance offers more flexibility, although they still recommend limits on screen time. (How Much Should You Limit Your Kids' Electronics? (verywellfamily.com).
3) Research which video games your children are playing and who they are communicating with online. Be informed to the best of your ability.
4) Teach your children about the dangers of the internet and internet safety starting at an early age. Tell your kids to come to you if they ever feel uncomfortable and reinforce that they will not get in trouble if they do so. Instruct your children to never give out any personal information.
5) Buy video games and consoles that have parental controls.
6) Encourage other types of play, in addition to video games. Help your child find other rewarding activities which they are passionate about.
7) Consider playing video games with your children, to teach and model for them healthy habits.
8) Set aside regularly scheduled family time. Make time to interact with your children. For example, do not allow your children to continue playing games while at the dinner table.
9) Ensure video games are not negatively impacting other aspects of your child’s life. Ask yourself, are video games impacting their sleep, mood, schoolwork, social relationships, etc.?
10) Keep gaming systems and televisions out of bedrooms.
Hopefully this blog has given you a lot to think about and can help you refine how you handle video games in your household. As with many things in life, there are both pros and cons to video games. By informing yourself, you can make the best decisions for your child and family.
If you would like to speak to one of our child therapists about your child and video games, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org