Since the digital revolution in the early 2000s, children have started to invest more and more of their time into video games. Studies show that the average American 8th grader spends 23 hours a week playing video games as opposed to 12 hours invested in such games by average 8th grader in 2001.
The average amount of time gathered by various studies carried out on the topic has increased a lot, although it has not yet been proven, whether video games are really worth the time spent on them or are just a waste of time and energy.
Pros of video games
First of all, we must consider that video games have become far more advanced than they were a decade ago. The graphics and the complexity of the games is more and more similar to what can be experienced in real life.
For example, several professional motorsports drivers have admitted that they are training for different circuits on video games, as the game features are very similar to the real circuit. Even some colleges use some video games in their studies. For example the University of Florida, University of California-Berkeley, Boston College and several other colleges use a video game called Starcraft in their management studies, as they believe it is a great way to develop stategical thinking of their students.
Besides the ability of different video games to develop the thinking and brain of young children, it has also been found that video games motivate children to learn different topics that they need at the game. For example, in Jyvaskyla University in Finland a research found that 6-7 year-old children, who started playing different video games at an open-ended computer environment were much more eager to learn reading and writing than the other children at their age. Also the children who took part in the survey increased their peripheral vision and language skills in English quite significantly.
Cons of video games
On the other hand video games also may have negative effects on the mental health of children. Already in 1992 Japanese professor Takashi Sakamoto found that children at the ages on 11-13, who were playing computer games most of their time, were less creative and emphatic than the other kids at their age range.
After the invention of different social networks like Facebook, children can get connected with other kids at any time, whether it would be in a game, smart phone or just a chat online. Although the quantity of communication has increased, the quality of information seems to have decreased. At the end it may result with social disconnection and increase in likelyhood for depression.
As children are spending more time playing multiple electronic games, the rate of video game addiction is also growing. Addiction in any area in life is not healthy, especially for young developing minds. Usually video game addiction results in increased aggressiveness, social disconnection with family and friends and lower academic achievement.
In a study conducted by Iowa State university it was found that nearly one in ten youths is . One of the main dangers in that particular addiction is that the player may lose sense between the fantasy world and the real world. In several cases children have found to be trying to imitate violence seen in video games. Many researchers suggest that there may also be a link between playing violent video games and bullying.
All in all, video games may have both positive effects and negative effects on children.
On one hand they increase different mental skills, on the other hand overuse of them may result in various mental health problems, lack of creative thinking and empathy. Overall we must admit that in healthy doses video games may have a positive effect on the development of children. As in every other area of life, there must be found a balance – a balance between video games and other activities, a balance between the real world and the fantasy world.