An increased rate of violence and aggression among children and teenagers is one of the most important problems faced by today’s parents. But we hardly spare a thought to the fact that entertainment media like television, video games and movies, can be an important factor contributing to the growing trend of violent behaviour among children and teenagers. Video games are perhaps the most significant source of entertainment for young children that were first introduced in the year 1970.
From then it has pervaded the world of child entertainment and become a subject of many studies and researches for its presumed role in influencing child behaviour and psychology. Results of many such studies have pointed out that video games can have greater adverse effects on children than television and movies. As compared to television, video games demand active participation of the player and therefore, can have far reaching effects on child behaviour and psychology.
As video games are more engaging in nature, children usually actively participate in these games and also identify themselves with the aggressor. Besides, video games often reward the violent activities, which further put children in the risk zone for developing aggressive thoughts and behaviour. In addition to this, they play these games over and over and they repeat their activities and according to psychologists, repetition and reward along with active involvement, holds the key to improved learning.
Therefore, video games can be more effective in instilling aggressive behaviour in young children, as compared to passive media like television and movies. Violence and aggression depicted in video games, if practiced in the real world, can cause serious injuries and even death. It is believed that excessive video game playing may reduce a child’s empathy or his/her willingness and desire to help others. Besides, excessive playing of video games can have an adverse impact on the academic performance of a child.
It can also result in social isolation, as children tend to spend less and less time playing and interacting with family members and friends. Another important harmful effect of video games is that it can affect a child’s perceptions about gender roles, as women are often portrayed as the victim or the weaker person, in many of these games. Spending an increasing amount of time on video games can significantly reduce physical activity in children and teenagers, thereby increasing the risk of obesity among them.
Besides obesity, other health related issues associated with playing video games include video-induced seizures, muscular and skeletal disorders and nerve compression. However, it has to be taken into consideration that video games can have certain beneficial effects on children. If used properly, these games can improve hand-eye coordination, problem solving and logic, multitasking, quick thinking and decision-making, attention to detail and teamwork and cooperation, if played with others.
So parents have an important role to play to ensure that the negative or harmful effects of video games do not outweigh the positive ones. For this they can limit the amount of time for playing and also take into account the rating of video games while purchasing them. In addition, they can also participate in the games and discuss the harmful effects of violence and aggression, their inappropriateness or ineffectiveness in solving problems in the real world. Besides this, children and teenagers should be encouraged to participate in other games and activities so that they don’t get addicted to video games.