14 Feb Gaming and kids. An alternative view.
Nowadays there are more and more reasons for parents to be concerned about the amount of time their children spend playing video games. We are showered with strong images of how “video game violence” makes every child a psychotic murderer. This gives dysfunctional parents a reason to find more excuses to blame external factors for the behavior of their damaged and struggling children.
Yeah, this article isn’t going the way you think it is.
There are a couple of reasons children quite often find solace in video games.
Allow me to elaborate.
It is natural thing for children to play, you cannot and must not stop it. Video games are often the most engaging and easy way to do this, especially if none of their friends are round. Why are they good? Well, if your child plays the right games they can actually learn a lot from them. Even though gaming might look mindless to you, it can actually be quite complex. Some games, such as RTS (real-time strategy), MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) involve a high degree of critical thinking and teach a great deal about strategy, teamwork, resource management and other skills, which can be helpful in the development of a young mind. Most of these games also have an economy and could teach a lot about money making and budgeting. Video games can also promote imagination and creativity, especially those in the Fantasy and RPG (Role-playing game) genres. Online games, especially MMORPGs can not only teach your children foreign languages (this is mostly how I learned English), but also a lot about intercultural relations, as quite often these games involve a lot of players from all over the globe.
Considering all the factors from the previous point you can see how escaping realty inside a game can be very alluring. Games provide complexity and challenges for children, which they can rarely come in contact with in real life. Especially if that very same real life is riddled with problems from their parents constantly arguing or taking it out on the family. It is likely that if a child feels in any way negatively impacted by their parents they are likely to engage in some kind of escapism activity. No matter if that is playing video games, reading fantasy books, watching movies or reading comics. Video games often provide a space to experience yourself as the hero and as someone who has some kind of control over their life. This is often what children lack in their real lives.
It doesn’t help that school is often quite dull or stressful for children. This is all the more reason to find that craved complexity and fun in their life inside video games.
Children need to play and children need to receive attention. If they don’t then the chances of them acting out in some way to get what they NEED is almost 99% certain. If you cannot engage with your child and have a friendly / fun conversation your relationship will suffer. Especially if the only reason for you to communicate with them is to scold them for a bad grade or generally critique them in some manner. If you don’t provide your kids with positive engagement then video games will.
Generally if a person is playing 8+ hours of video games a day he/she is dealing with an issue. It might be stress at school/ home, boredom, lack of self-confidence to engage in real word activities or whatever. So if such behavior is displayed then you need to understand the underlying issue, not ban the person from playing games. This kind of behavior is a symptom, not the problem itself. So seek to understand your child, not critique them and constantly act in a negative way towards them.
Games are just a decent hobby/past time activity.
Sometimes there is no underlying problem. It’s just a fun thing to do. Considering some of the alternative that is not such a bad thing. Would you rather your child get in trouble with the law by hanging out with the wrong kids? Is it better to watch football/soccer all the time? There are a lot of people that say playing video games for 2 hrs is a waste of time, but at the same time they sit down and watch reality TV every day. Is there really such a difference?
Sometimes escapism is a good thing. It can help wind down and relax. I believe this activity can be quite beneficial to some people when done in moderation. Like painting, knitting, reading or any other activity that you partake non-professionally and for enjoyment.
With the advent of digital media, e-sports has followed suit. This is no longer something to be scoffed at, the sport has gathered ever increasing audiences and prize pools. The largest one to date was 25 Million $. Streamers and Youtubers alike are earning an amazing living from gaming and it has become a legitimate career path. You should take your child more seriously if he/she wants to become a professional gamer. Not only out of respect for them and their happiness, but also because that is something, which is becoming a booming career opportunity for a lot of people.
When it comes to electronic entertainment parents need to find ways to see things as they are. It’s not on/off, black and white, bad/good. Studies show that there is little distinction between gaming and other forms of positive leisure activities. However one can only reap positives if they engage in video games up to 3h a day. Anything more and you start to see negatives such as lower levels of pro-social behavior and life satisfaction. I guess the lesson is, like a lot of things, gaming should be done in moderation.
If anyone is interested in that study you can find it here. It is by the American Academy of Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/134/3/e716