The parents leaped up around 2:00 am from their bed after hearing a strange scream. Their four-year-old son Adam was on the bed, unable to move, like he was being held down and was making weird muffled noises. His parents immediately brought him to the hospital and they stayed at the emergency room until sunrise but Adam didn’t regain consciousness for about six hours. The seizure repeated the following days. The doctors tried to think of a possible reason that this may have happened and came to the conclusion that Adam’s brain was still trapped in the video game world. In his sleep, Adam was imagining himself in a video game.
Two months before, the couple had bought a house and moved from another city. At that time, they were too busy trying to repair and settle down and couldn’t spend time with their son. Eventually, Adam got bored and his parents allowed him to play video games as much as he wanted to keep occupied. His mom said he probably spent over five hours a day playing. That was too much for the brain of a four year old.
In the last decade, video gaming has become very popular for people of all ages and its negative effects increase in every passing day.
Although there are many studies that have already been made, it seems that the pros and cons of video games will be discussed for a long time. According to Gartner, video game marketing has been increasing unbelievably in recent years. The market volume was $100 million in 1985, $4 billion in 1990, $93 billion in 2013 and $111 billion in 2015 shows amazing growth (Gartner, 2013). While some games have educational content, many of the popular games emphasize negative themes and promote many violent habits, such as; killing of people or animals, use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, criminal behavior, disrespect for authority and the law, sexual exploitation, racial, sexual and gender stereotypes, foul language, obscene gestures, and etc. (Aacap, 2015). How are young brains affected? Are they safe or should we be expecting new physical and psychological problems to arise?
According to a study on “Effect of Video Games on Child Development” from Developmental Psychology at Vanderbilt University, violent video games have shown the negative effects on the younger generation. Cesarone warns us on violent video games and says, students who had played a violent virtual reality game had a higher heart rate, reported more dizziness and nausea, and exhibited more aggressive thoughts in a posttest than those who had played a nonviolent game. Unfortunately, there has been a steady increase in the number of video games with violent themes. According to a survey 40 of the 47 top-rated Nintendo video games had violence as a theme (Cesarone,1994).
In “The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games”, the effect of video game violence in kids is worsened by the games’ interactive nature. In many games, kids are rewarded for being more violent. The act of violence is done repeatedly. The child is in control of the violence and experiences the violence in his own eyes (killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting). This active participation, repetition and reward are effective tools for learning behavior.
American Psychological Association published a study on impulsive kids and says, impulsive kids with attention problems tend to play more video games than the other children (2012). The same article references research that shows playing video games can be linked to attention problems and impulsivity in children. Cesarone also considers another problem seen by critics of video games is that the games stress autonomous action rather than cooperation.
Another negative effect of video games is that kids prefer to stay at home and play video games instead of physically playing outside. Spending too much time on their games takes away from their social life. Cesarone indicates that the kids that play with video games spend around fourteen hours a week playing them but just an hour outside.
The other big problem is the high percentage of child obesity caused by video gaming. Elle Paula, the author in Livestrong, says one-third of American children and teenagers are overweight or obese according to American Academy of Pediatrics. The amount of time kids are playing video games is a big factor in that. Paula signs, the children prefer sedentary behaviors and snacking while watching TV or playing video games. By spending much of their free time on the computer or console, kids are not going out and participating in activities that will keep them physically fit and healthy.
In conclusion, adults should protect their kids from the hazardous negative effects of video games. They should be careful to choose the right games for their ages and try to pick educational or nonviolent games and limit the time for daily play. Even though some researchers say infants are safe to watch digital screens, for babies younger than 18 months, AAP still says that no screens at all are the best idea (Kemanetz, 2016). The parents should shut down any kind of screens when they are with their babies until they are at least fifteen months old.
"Effect of Video Games on Child Development." Developmental Psychology at Vanderbilt. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017. <https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2014/04/effect-of-video-games-on-child-development/>.
"Gartner Says Worldwide Video Game Market to Total $93 Billion in 2013." Gartner. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017. <http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2614915>.
Kamenetz, Anya. "American Academy Of Pediatrics Lifts 'No Screens Under 2' Rule." NPR. NPR, 21 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/10/21/498550475/american-academy-of-pediatrics-lifts-no-screens-under-2-rule>.
"The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games." Raise Smart Kid. N.p., 12 Mar. 2017. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Pardon Our Interruption. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/02/impulsive-kids.aspx>.
Paula, Elle. "Obesity in Children and Technology." LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/46320-obesity-children-technology/>.
"Video Games and Children. ERIC Digest., Cesarone, Bernard." Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017. <http://ericae.net/edo/ED365477.htm>.
Aacap. "Video Games and Children: Playing with Violence." Video Games and Children: Playing with Violence. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.