|Posted on 24 November, 2020 at 21:30|
Written by Jessica Parker (October 2020)
Picture this scenario, you have just called your child down for dinner and you are met with a reply somewhere along the lines of ‘Ah mum I’m in the middle of a game, 10 more minutes please!’ Sound familiar? Most parents worry that their children and teens are playing too many games and are going to be negatively affected by them. It’s completely common to worry as video games have been under fire by critics ever since they first appeared. If you had to Google "harmful effects of video games," you will find all sorts of scary articles. So, the question is are these negative claims true or are there actually benefits to playing video games?
Looking into the actual research that has been done on the impact of video games, you find a very limited amount of evidence of any negative impact and in fact, considerable evidence against those claims. There are several well-controlled research studies that document positive effects of video games on mental development. In fact, video games are highly stimulating utilizing nearly all parts of the human brain and leads to high level thinking as well as the development of fine motor skills. With the intensity and complexity of each game comes quick analysis, thinking, strategizing, learning to deal with stress and inductive reasoning followed by hypothesis testing (Tumbokon, 2018). Research has also shown the cognitive benefits of video games such as, improvements in basic visual processes, improvements in attention and vigilance and improvements in executive functioning. We also see a number of findings which show that video games can help those who suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, antisocial personality disorder (APD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Alzheimer’s disease. Excitingly, there is also a lot of research currently being done of the therapeutic use of video games.
Of course, however, not all screen time is created equal. We know for example the damaging effects social media can have on a child’s self esteem and sense of worth. My suggestion would be to consider quality over quantity. Get to know what your child or teen enjoys doing with their screen time, are they playing stimulating, engaging games or are they mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. This can be a wonderful opportunity for bonding time with your child or teen as well. Ask them questions and get to understand their games with genuine interest and curiosity rather than negativity and scepticism and you will be amazed at what you learn.