Are Video Games Bad?
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.
Tipper 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.
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
There 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.
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!
Video 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.