Is playing video games good for children? Game reviews




Article 1

There is not necessarily a magical age in which it’s appropriate to begin introducing your kids to games. The studies that are currently available that have evaluated and measured the amount or the number of hours that kids are playing video games generally begins at around the age of eight, but it comes down to a parent’s choice as to whether not this is an effective or appropriate media for their child. When it comes to the use of video games we see this benefit when it’s used in moderation. Now it is unclear whether or not that benefit holds in that younger age group, but what we see in those older age groups is that the use of games, under an hour a day can foster creativity, problem-solving,and improve social functioning. Over that three hour threshold is where we start to see a great deal of impairment start to arise in their school functioning, family functioning, and interpersonal functioning. I would not differentiate between educational games and allow more access to that verses more just simply entertainment-related games. It’s important to understand gaming as gaming. Just like I would say screen time is screentime whether it’s on a telephone or an iPhone or a smartphone, or a tablet, or a TV. I would also encourage parents to understand that this hour a day should also be within that two-hour threshold that the American academy of pediatrics frequently sites as kind of a guideline to limit total media access of any kind for kids. If you think about the number of hours or free time that is spent engaged in gaming they are not doing much else. So they are not engaged in other activities that would be normative for their age and developmental level. So the more they seclude themselves and engage in those solitary activities the less they are doing other age-appropriate tasks and again where they should be spending time doing homework or doing chores, they spend time avoiding those areas which end up causing impairment in their life. It’s important to make sure children only have access to those video games after they have demonstrated to their parents they have done something different that is creative or constructive or social and then allowing them limited access to it again. They can always take back control of those games. Creating and setting time limits, policing the content, watching it with their children, and giving them more effective media literacy, parents can help stem those effects that may have developed as a result of that inappropriate amount of gaming. The good thing with parents when I talk with them frequently in my office is, we can always get better. The effects that may have been present with that gaming that was excessive and the problems that went along with it can always be corrected and we’ve seen that happen in a couple of longitudinal studies.


Article 2 

Politicians often blame video games for some of the violence in our world and while it is true that the top five most popular video games right now are all shooter games, do the guns on-screen translate into aggression in real life? Can video games make you violent? One of the main arguments people make against video games is that they prime kids to be violent. Priming is a non-conscious form of memory where one stimulus influences the response to a subsequent stimulus. For example, if I said the word yellow then asked you to name a fruit you would most likely say banana. This led to a study in which researchers had participants play one of two games. One game where they were in a car avoiding collisions. Another where they were just a mouse avoiding a cat. Following the game, the researchers, based on priming, hypothesized the players would be faster at categorizing objects associated with the game they played, more quickly in the real world. So the players looked at pictures of things like a bus or a dog and were asked to quickly label them either as a vehicle or an animal. Those who played the card game were no faster at categorizing vehicles. And those who played the cat game were no faster at categorizing animals. Those who played each game had a slower reaction time to the related category. Meaning negative priming might be occurring. Oh, science, you're always just messing with us, aren't ya? But unlike the 8-bit games of our past, today's game designers are capable of producing incredible graphics. Therefore another criticism is the more realistic a game the more likely it will activate aggressive behavior. To study this concept, one study had participants play one of two Kombat games. One where the characters were modeled using ragdoll physics: movements modeled off of the human skeleton, which means they had very physically realistic death behaviors. The other game-used deaths that were extremely unrealistic. Afterward, aggression was assessed via a word association test and the game with the more realistic deaths showed no increase in aggression. Of the available research, most find no link between video games and violence. A meta-analysis of studies showing a positive link between games and aggression found that they often used ineffective lab tests of aggression. For example, measuring brain waves and heartbeats, which doesn't necessarily translate to actual criminal behavior. And in the past when a correlation has been found, it's been weak. Criminologists who study mass homicides refer to the link between violent games and crime as a myth. In fact, in 2011 the US Supreme Court ruled that research did not find a clear connection between violent videogames and aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, we all know how often after a crime, video games, and violent media get brought into the conversation. But the truth is this might be distracting from the more significant causes of violence.

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