10 Nov 2011 - Story by Elizabeth Asino- Joseph
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Last week I discussed the wonderful things that children get from playing computer games.(Again, I define computer games broadly to include video games, arcade games, and home console games such as PlayStation).
This week, I am going to discuss the disadvantages of playing computer games as well as recommendations to parents on balancing this new reality in our lives.
Disadvantages of playing computer games
Aggressive behavior: According to the American Psychological Association, violent games increase children's aggressive behavior. These children tend to have difficulties dealing with anxiety. Instead of calming themselves, crying, talking about the anxiety or soothing themselves, they externalize the anxiety by attacking things like kicking walls or being mean to pets and other children. These attacks tend to be frequent.
No Consequences: Children who play violent games do not learn about consequences. When they shoot someone, they get more points instead of going to jail. As the children play games over a period of time, they become less caring and helpful towards their peers.
Learn Violence: As the children spend a great deal of time with violent games, they miss out on learning how to relate with people in healthy ways as well as how to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Violent Adults: Children are forming life-long values. If they spend a lot of time playing violent games (killing, stabbing, shooting and kicking), they are going to carry violent tendencies through to adulthood.
Addictive: Studies have shown that computer games can be addictive. The addicts suffer from depression and anxiety just like substance abuse addicts.
Social Isolation: Spending a lot of time playing computer games makes children socially isolated.
Bad School Performance: Children who spend a lot time playing games spend less time reading, doing sports and interacting with friends and family. School performance, therefore, suffers.
Health Problems: Apart from picking up bad language from playing computer games, children also become obese. In extreme cases, the children suffer from health problems such as seizures as well as postural, muscular and skeletal disorders.
Minimize Potential Harm
Limit Screen Time: Limit the amount of time children spend in front of screens (television, videos, DVDs, games, handhelds) to not more than two hours per day.
No Screens in Bedrooms: Never install computers, televisions or gaming equipment in children's bedrooms.
Talk: Have discussions with children about the games they are playing. Parents should also know how to play the games and judge the games' appropriateness for their children.
Alternate Entertainment: Expose the children to different forms of entertainment such as reading, playing sports, interacting with other kids, and helping people in need.
Ratings: Read computer games ratings. Following are guidelines that have been established by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board:
- EC is for "early childhood." May be suitable for ages 3 and up. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
- E is for "everyone." May be suitable for ages 6 and up. May contain minimal violence, some comic mischief and/or mild language.
- E10+ is for "everyone 10 and older." May be suitable for ages 10 and up. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.
- T is for "teen." May be suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.
- M is for "mature." May be suitable for persons ages 17 and up. May contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.
- AO is for "adults only." Have content suitable only for adults. May include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.
- RP is for "rating pending." Titles have been submitted and are awaiting final rating.
As with all things, we should help our children exercise moderation in utilizing computer games.
Elizabeth Asino-Joseph firstname.lastname@example.org