Are Video Games Bad?

By: Keith

call-of-duty-world-at-war

 

Parents have been asking themselves for years if video games are good for their kids.  Should we limit the time our kids play video games, and what games should we allow them to play and at what age?  I have a personal opinion on the matter, but I wanted to see what other people and research had to say about it.  I wanted to know if violent video games really do cause kids to become more aggressive and violent themselves.  I’ve also heard of studies that show video games help problem solving and visual acuity in kids.  I do not allow my kids to play some of the more gratuitously violent games on the market, but my opinion in general is that video games are good for kids.  For parents who are particularly concerned there are a number of other websites with helpful hints on how to deal with the video game craze.  Just type video games and kids into google and they can be found.  I do not discourage my kids from playing them.  I only discourage certain content.

 

Aggressiveness

 

Medal of Honor | Are Video Games Bad? | video games are goodTipper Gore testified in front of congress years ago to get warning labels on albums containing “questionable” material.  I consider federal intervention in any artistic expression censorship.  It was wrong when Tipper did it to music and it’s wrong now for video games.  It is not the governments place to censor our consumption.  However, it is a parent’s responsibility to monitor his/her children’s media content.  There is no age appropriateness that fits every family, and that’s why only a parent can make that decision, not the government.  There have been studies (psychology matters) that show that some kids, who are exposed to violent video games, exhibit heightened aggressiveness and an inclination towards violent conflict resolution.  I tend to believe those conclusions, but I think the result is a combination of violent video games and parental neglect rather than simply the violence in the games.  Irresponsible parents who don’t watch what their kids are doing shouldn’t be surprised when their kids go astray.  It’s always been that way.  Kids need attentive parents.  Video games are not the sole culprits.

 

Problem Solving

 

This morning I found an interesting report done by ABC News that basically says video games make people smarter, “Studies show video games make people more perceptive, training their brains to analyze things faster.”  The video games I played as a kid did not involve the kind of graphic complexity that today’s games have.  They also didn’t have compelling stories or any ability to challenge my intellect.  They were games like Galaga, Millipede, Pac-Man, and Missile Defense.  They helped my hand eye-coordination, but they didn’t do anything for my problem solving abilities.  Today’s games have complex story lines that are full of puzzles and decisions to make, not just zapping bugs descending from the top of the screen.  A perfect example of a problem solving type game is Prince of Persia for the Xbox 360.  The only way to progress through the game is to collect “light spheres”, and the only way to find them is to get creative, explore the game map, and solve puzzles.  I have included it into my favorite games for kids list.

 

Visual Attention Skills

 

Prince of Persia | Are Video Games Bad? | video game promote problem solvingThere is a research study done by a pair of researchers at the University of Rochester in New York that has shown that people who are video game aficionados are better at visually processing objects on a screen, and in real life, than non-game players.   “According to the experiments, which are reported in the May 29 issue of Nature, people who play action video games can process visual information more quickly and can track 30 percent more objects than non video game players.”  The researchers experimented by taking non gamers and training them to play Medal of Honor.  They tested them before and after, and found that they showed improvements in the visual processing tests after they had spent time playing the game. If these finding are true, and they seem to be, I defiantly want my kids to play games.  In fact, gaming should be homework if this is true!  I find it fascinating. 

 

Achtung!

 

Parents who do not pay attention to their kids are negligent whether or not the kids are playing in a park or playing a video game; I’m sure I’m not the only one who has read Lord of the Flies.  Kids left to their own devices get into trouble, that’s how it works.  I found a website with some helpful tips on watching children’s media consumption.  There is no need to repeat it because it all relates to being a good parent, which we should all know how to do anyway.  I don’t pay any attention to the warning labels and age ratings on video games.  What I do is buy a game that looks good and play it myself.  If I find it acceptable then I let the kids play it.  For instance, I played Grand Theft Auto and decided I’d never let my kids play it because I don’t care for the content.  I also played Call of Duty and thought my boys would like it and would not be harmed in the least by it. (Killing Nazis should be a family activity in my opinion).  GTA and Call of Duty have the same ratings.  Tell me that makes any sense.  It does not, and it’s stupid.  One game deals with a heroic struggle to save the free world while the other glorifies gang violence.  Please!

 

Metroid Prime | Are Video Games Bad? | video games are goodVideo games are about as dangerous as fire crackers.  Fire crackers are fun and exciting as long as you don’t put one down your shorts.  In other words,  don’t be stupid.  If we’re smart parents, and watch what our kids are doing, there should be no reason to worry.  Warning labels and age ratings on music, video games, and movies are stupid.  Their only purpose is to help parents be more lazy and irresponsible by abdicating their responsibilities to the government.  I believe that kids left to their own devices will, indeed, become violent.  I don’t think video games are to blame.  I think video games make a good excuse for parents who don’t want to take responsibility.  Are all video games of the same ratings equal?  No, they aren’t.  It’s good to allow kids to play some more complicated FPS (First Person Shooter) games because they have been shown to stimulate brain activity, and some of them are perfectly acceptable.  Metroid Prime and Call of Duty are two that I like the most.  In addition, games like Prince of Persia have been proven to aid in the development of problem solving abilities.  Video games and gamers have gotten a bad rap for many years now.  There is no cause for that sentiment.  The bad rap should go to parents who allow games to babysit their kids.  That’s all I have to say about that.

38 Responses to “Are Video Games Bad?”
  1. Andrew Commander July 25, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    ROFL putting a firecracker down your shorts, great mental image!

    I myself have played somewhat violent video games from a young age with kids on my street. It started with 007 on the N64, then to Halo, and Halo 2, and then Halo 3. As the games have gotten better graphically, the purpose has stayed the same, kill your friends.

    I dont think that most kids having a good time playing Xbox will actually think that its a good idea to go kill your friends. At least personally I dont feel that way :)

    Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare is my game of choice right now, not because of the campaign, but for the online play. Nothing beats it!(Except maybe Modern Warfare 2 which releases on November 10th)
    (Until

  2. J Cruikshank July 25, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Fahrenheit 451 for video games, possible. There were many silent voices when they banned Tobacco Road and other great works to “protect” the masses but who will protect us from them? We continue to dumb down to the lowest common denominator because parents look to daddy government to raise their kids womb to tomb. Shame on them!

  3. Joan August 9, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Proverbs says “A child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Really informative and well researched article Keith. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned from it. Moderation is always the key, no matter what the activity. Although I don’t guess a kid could get too many fruits and vegies? Anything else: MODERATE (with a LONG “A”) :)

  4. Jill January 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I just skimmed through this so sorry if you mentioned it but have you read the book “Everything bad is good for you” by Steve Johnson? You would probably love it.
    He didn’t completely sell me on the idea but I do agree that TV and video games are a lot more sophisticated then when we were growing up.

    • Keith January 16, 2010 at 7:47 am #

      Hi Jill, no I didn’t read that book. But, it looks like one I’d like :-) Right on about the video games. It’s not just pong anymore!

  5. ps3 consoles February 2, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    i think a lot of parents should focus on the gaming system..A lot of adults play video games now so therefore there are games that are slated towards adult. Its like how not all movies are good for kids to watch, not all games are good for kids to play. I think the problem is that most people still have the mindset that games are just for kids

  6. James May 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Video games is not bad for anyone, the old generation might not like it but as the new generation takes over all this will be forgoten.
    .-= James´s last blog ..White Chest Of Drawers =-.

  7. Dennis Yu June 27, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    I believe that the traditional concept of video games is about to change radically once game dynamics are applied to everyday tasks– even our jobs– to make them more interesting.

  8. Ben June 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    I believe video games might become very dangerous in the future because more and more soldiers are now using xbox360 controllers to fight real people with Drones and I think this is the start of a new thing that might go out of hand if we carryon mixing play and dangerous technology.
    A soldier will have no phychological pain by just clicking a button and see 15 people dying from a screen bu the people below will be hurt for life.

    Yes games could become bad if used the wrong way but also could helo a tremendous amount of kids when mixed up with maths, history etc…..

    Good article thanks!

    Ben

    • Keith June 30, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

      Ben: I agree that video games could take the human element out of war thereby making them more terrible than ever. Have you read The Forever War, and Forever Peace by Joe Halderman? The Forever War won the Nebula award back in 1975 and Forever Peace was written in the 90′s. You might like both of those books. Forever Peace specifically is about soldiers fighting wars by proxy. Exactly as you say :-)

  9. Anthony July 7, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    There are lots of games that are not violent and/or educative. You have to be picky, just like you would be with movies for example.

  10. evohomeschool August 13, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    My older children had an interest in playing video games and I kept them at a minimum. As they became high school kids they were able to play more of the violent warfare games. They were excellent students and have gone on to become self-sufficient young adults. They’ve turned out more successful than my brother and even my cousins.
    Now I have one young child left in the house that has no interest in computers or video games and thinks they’re stupid and a waste of time. (I’m sure this will change as he gets older)
    I agree that the parent is responsible for what the child does or doesn’t do and the ratings are ridiculous. Though I do appreciate the ratings of movies.

  11. jayim October 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    My 14 year old son plays CoD. He gets decent grades and is on the H.S. swim and water polo team. I’ve never seen any hint of violence in him. His friends also play and they are good kids. So I don’t think video games are bad for kids either. You just need to regulate the time they play them.

    I don’t agree on with you on warning labels though. By definition, it is not censorship. It keeps me from wasting money on something I wouldn’t want my kid watching, playing, or listening too.

  12. Xbox 360 games fan October 18, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    after having this game for so long and playing it here and there, I’m finally sitting down to play it on veteran mode. Now I have played it through recruit and even hardened with little to no problem at all, as it should be. But let me tell you, on veteran they pull out all the stops and I mean all of em. For instance no matter how many of your own guys are around you every enemy shoots directly at you! Be prepared to dodge grenade after grenade after grenade after grenade and oh wait 6 grenades at one time!? Yeah sounds like fun! You thought you had help from the AI, think again! This has to be the worst AI I’ve ever seen, I mean your guys run by the enemy and do nothing, randomly shoot into walls, get in your way and are more of a nuisance then anything. It is the most unbalanced mode I’ve ever played……COD4 no problem, veteran beat, Modern Warfare 2 challenging but no problem! You have to be extra cautious when playing veteran here though and even then be prepared for grenades and miracle shots from the enemy and non stop units! Me and my brother literally played the same level for over 2 hours and are still playing it as I write this review! And were pretty damn good at COD no exaggeration. I’m sure most people have played this and are onto MW2 by now waiting for Black Ops to come out but for the ones who haven’t played this, be prepared to be frustrated out of your mind if you plan on playing it on veteran, seriously……..I would hate to play this game on veteran for the Wii…….jesus

  13. Markin Ambuh November 14, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    Video games are not bad but it is our responsibility as parents to supervise our children. In my case, I only allow my children to play video games over the weekends only.

  14. christian soto December 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    THE GAME IS FUCIN COOL I MEEN PRINSE OF PERCIA 3 WAS COOL BUT PRINS OF PERCIA IS ASUM

  15. Alex Albíter May 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Dada la información que aportas, me pustulo totalmente en contra de que el ámbito de los videojuegos sea malos.

    Es verdaderamente ciera la información que nos das a conocer, por lo que estoy totalmente de acuerdo cintigo, La “adicción” que afecta a la salud, según muchos estudios, es causada por el mismo consumidor. He observado asimismo que muchas noticias critican a los videojuegos por su fuerte violencia mostrada hacia el sector infantil principalmente. No es culpa del todo de la industtia videojueguil, sino de los mismo padres de los menores de edad que se envician con un videojuego no apto para ellos.

    Para epezar, existe una organización llamada ESRB que otorga clasificación de edades a los juegos, misma que se muestra notablemente en la esquina de la caja de de los juegos. Los padres, al comprarle un juego a su niño no se percatan o hacen caso omiso de la letra “M” (que en inglés significa “Mature”, es decir, para mayores de edad) y poco después se quejan de la pésima interactividad en un juego para un infante.

    Ahora, si de la salud se habla, existe toda una variedad de videojuegos con sensores de movimiento que funcionan medianta la utilización de controles (o inclusive, sin ellos). Ya sea la videconsola casera Wii con su control Wiimote y toda un catálogo increíble de videojuegos, la aplicación PlayStationMove de la consola PlayStation 3 o la más reciente Kinect, un accesorio inteligente para la Xbox 360.

    En conclusión, y exactamente como menciona la ABC, y otros estudios, los videojuegos hacen a las personas más perceptivas, entrenando sus cerebros a analizar cosas mas rápidamente.

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