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Video Game Addiction

In Health & Lifestyles on January 7, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Young children playing against each other in a video game. Photo courtesy of Google images.

By:  Kenya Williams

Several experts debate over the concept of video game “addiction,”   But should it really be classified as an addiction?  Addiction experts from the American Medical Association (AMA) say that further studying is required before excessive game usage is considered a mental illness.  

            Playing video games has both positive and negative effects on children and adolescents.  The positive effects are that video games improve their ability to use computers.  Another positive effect is that the games require a plentiful amount of thinking, giving your child’s brain a workout.  However, video games negatively affect children and adolescents in several ways.  One way is that it makes the players more aggressive, depending on how violent the game is.  Other negative affects included players eventually lacking social skills because too much time is spent playing games, instead of interacting with others outside of the virtual world.  Players also begin to spend less time with family and friends.

            A study by researchers Gentile, Lynch, Linder & Walsh showed that girls between the ages of 13 and 19 play games for an average of five hours per week and boys between the ages of 13 and 19 play games for an average of 13 hours per week.  Gentile, Lynch, Linder & Walsh also found that those who play violent games are more likely to argue with teachers and get into fights with other students at school.  They also found that the players’ grades will go down.

            On the plus side, the players will improve their ability to follow directions, the ability to solve problems, and hand-eye coordination.  Simulation games, such as The Sims, give players the skill of surviving in the real world.  Many other games similar to The Sims confuse its players with the difference between fantasy and reality. 

Parents should be careful when making the decision to buy games with ratings that are inappropriate for the player because believe it or not, games can cause problems for them later in life. It’s very important for parents to pay close attention to what their child is actually playing because the majority of them are unaware of what’s involved in video games.  Doing something as simple as reading the game’s description can make a big difference in a child’s social life.  Excessive game usage is unhealthy and can easily be prevented.

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