We've had suspicions before. We know deep down inside that although our kids are 'behaving' and being quiet in the next room while we do the family chores, clean the house, etc, that the silence coming from the room where our kids play video games for hours upon end, isn't the healthy sound of happiness. It could be detrimental to your kids if the hours they are spending playing video games are excessive...
'Gaming' as they call it, really isn't the games of the past which you and I and our parents grew up playing--gaming to them is sitting in a room, fixated on a screen with the lights dimmed on an otherwise wonderful summer day...and like a quiet thief in the night, it is stealing your child's health and childhood.
So how much time should be spent playing video games? One study states that kids spending three or more hours in front of their video game screens a day are more likely to be less happy than non-gamers, as well as more likely to have problems in their younger years.
Here are five reasons why excessive gaming is bad for your kids:
1. Isolationism: Video games these days can be linked to not only other cities, but other countries as well. So as a parent not only do you have a vague idea of who is on the other side of that screen, but odds are they may not even reside in the same country!
Video games by their own nature isolate kids from the outside world. These games can also be played alone or 'first person' so there is the possibility that there can be NO interaction at all with other humans; and that right there shows that if you child is playing an inordinate amount of hours by themselves gaming, then this tendency could lead further and further into social isolationism.
Gaming can also become addictive and thus remove your kids from crucial social situations and other interactive human relationships where important skills such as communication are normally developed. If they grow up spending too much time, they may wind up as 21-year-olds yet with only a 12-year-old set of social skill sets.
Kids need to grow their social skill sets and spending their development years in front of a screen does not help them develop interaction skills but increases their isolationism.
2. Desensitizing: Yes, we live in a world where conflict may seem like the solution for just about everything. Unfortunately that is one of the key pieces of any good drama reaching back as far to playwrights such as Shakespeare and even Sophocles and Euripides. However that certainly does not mean you have to expose your kids to it for hours upon hours a day, via video games and other media.
When children are exposed to violence day in and day out, they will become desensitized to violence through excessive use of video games that rely upon violence as a key problem-solving component of that game.
3. Rise in Aggressive Behaviour: The American Psychological Association (or APA) is based in Washington, D.C., and is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 122,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. They did a study in 2015 and found amongst other things that; "The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression." Furthermore they add that spending excessive time interacting in these games can also contribute to "aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect as well as see a change in decreased empathy and prosocial behavior."
They go further to state not every child who plays violent video games excessively will in fact wind up in prison, clarifying that “no single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently,” the report states. “Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior. The research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor.”
4. Waste of Time: The Kaiser Family Foundation study show that kids these days spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes A DAY on entertainment media. That is more than 53 hours A WEEK! Yikes!
Just think of what your child could be doing with that time? Just think of the books they could read? The hobbies they could begin and benefit from? The places they can explore? The minutes spent in front of gaming consoles and screens quietly tick by, turning into hours upon hours with nothing to show for most of it. So limiting their time in front of video games can allow more time for your kids to be part of more productive pastimes.
5. Weight Gain: Yes, this is one of the more obvious negative effects of spending excessive time playing video games or intaking too much media/screen time. Kids need to be active. They need to burn calories, especially now that 1 in 3 Americans are obese according to many studies.
Leading a sedentary life and playing video games is not what little bodies need or find beneficial. That time is better spent being active; playing tag, riding bikes, running through hoses, playing in fields and even doing hobbies like butterfly collecting that keeps young kids active.
...Now we aren't saying kids shouldn't play video games--we are urging parents to allow it if they wish, BUT in blocks of time that are reasonable and do not involve hours upon hours of each day, every day in front of gaming screens. Be wise. Be selective and have happier children!
All of us here at Play Unplugged want your kids to grow and develop in the healthiest manner possible, so perhaps this weekend take a look at your kids and how much time they are spending in front of video games (and especially violent ones) and hopefully you can help them avoid these five traits that are frequently associated with spending too much time playing video games.
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