The dominance of technology in our lives has always been a subject of heated discussion. Digital media has even transgressed into our kids’ childhood. Gone are the days when children looked forward to picnics and rushed to play outdoors. Now infants are seen tapping the screens of Smartphones, tablets and wiggling joysticks plopped on the couch. Rolling eyes and yelling at them to shut that screen and do something productive is a daily battle.
- What Are Video Games?
- What Are The Benefits Of Video Games for Kids?
- The Possible Disadvantages Of Video Games For Children?
- Tips To Balance The Impact Of Video Games
- Best Video Games for Toddlers
What Are Video Games?
Video games are electronic games which involve manipulation of objects displayed on the screen to attain goals. They can be played on phones, phablets, tablets, computers, televisions and specially developed gaming consoles such as Microsoft XBox, Sony Playstation, Nintendo etc. Some of these consoles come with motion sensing devices which detect and capture the movements of the player and project them on the screen. These are real time stimulations, i.e. if you sway your hand as if giving a shot with the bat, then the player on the screen appears to be batting on-screen.
Video games can also be addictive in nature, you you need to keep a check on the compulsion of video games your child plays. If you think in line with the traditional contemplation that video games make kids aggressive and violent, hold on! There are music video games as well. Video games may not be all bad, here’s how:
What Are The Benefits Of Video Games for Kids?
As noted by C. Shawn Green, psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, “Video games change your brain.” Just like when a child learns to read, play, and other things, the brain undergo the same structural changes when he plays video games. Video games call for a heightened combination of concentration and rewarding oneself. These emotions cause the increase of neurotransmitters like dopamine that in turn strengthens neural circuits that can build the brain.
Enlisted below are some scientifically proven benefits of video games:
Shooting soldiers and indulging in high speed races can act as a stress buster! Your child forgets his anxieties and worries. Video games are a blessing for injured kids as they distract from discomfort and pain
2. Optimizes dexterity:
The movements of console buttons and joystick increase the maneuvering skills along with:
- Eye hand coordination
- Fine motor skills: gripping, holding, wrist movement
3. Increases attention span and alertness:
Playing video games involves being attentive and alert at all times. One twitch here and you could lose. Video games help in increasing concentration by being competitive
4. Promotes multitasking:
While playing a video game, a child has to manage multiple objectives and track many variables at one go. This makes him an expert at multitasking
5. Strengthens cognitive skills:
A child’s cognitive skills get honed as video games create simulating scenarios that are stressful. It is at this time that a child’s ability to come up with some solution enhances. Other benefits are-
- Logical reasoning– to understand and crack the logic behind the game
- Problem solving– quickly coming up with alternatives, having back ups and finding solutions
- Spatial skills – 3D dimensioning of objects-prepares your child for sciencetechnology, mathematics and engineering
- Abstract reasoning
- Pattern recognition- some games require figuring the pattern in order to win
- Cognitive mapping – navigation and remembering the location of objects and how to reach the destination
- Decision making – in games, keeping in mind the resources and available choices
6. Exercises brain:
Rather than blankly watching telly, games encourage the child to actively indulge in strategic planning with observation within the stipulated time limits
7. Simplifies mathematical concepts:
Helps in clarifying basic mathematical concepts with the help of interactive and colorful animations
8. Inspires vocational careers:
Such as civil engineering, town planning and mathematics. Some people claim that after playing Sims, many kids wanted to take up architecture as a career choice
9. Teaches economical utilization of resources:
Games like SimCity, Age of Empires, and Railroad Tycoon inspire children to understand that resources are always limited and should be put to the best use
10. Hones combat skills:
This is particularly useful for girls
11. Builds perseverance:
Your kid will huff and puff in order to pass the level or master a tactic. “Try, try till you succeed” – well learned!
12. Stimulates team working capabilities:
Games that involve multi players are a good way to make your child learn and develop team spirit
13. Increases historical and geographical knowledge:
Games such as Age of Mythology, Civilization, and Age of Empires may fire interest in world history, geography, ancient cultures and international relations
14. Fosters friendship:
Discussion on games and moves bonds friendship
15. Sparks interests in games:
A child may want to practice the new move of soccer, cricket or basketball that he just twisted and turned in the digital frame for real!
16. Quality family time:
Allows fun time spent together by father-son sharing common interests
17. Increases confidence and self esteem:
As he keeps on clearing harder and tougher levels, his confidence in taking up challenges and risks increase.
18. Makes him more receptive to others opinion and ideas:
Games that involve multiple players encourage your child to work in collaboration and as a team to achieve his goals. He learns to listen to the ideas of others, formulate plans with other kids, and distribute tasks based on skills.
19. Teaches time management skills and importance:
Games are not forever!! Because there are time limits, your child learns to manage tasks within the stipulated time
20. Burns calories:
Not all video games require sitting glued to the screen. With real world simulation, your kid is not dependent going to the tennis court in heavy rainfall or rely on friends for company
21. Expands social network:
Allows interaction with friends around the world, inculcates the sense of sharing and requesting politely
22. Improves mood:
You can find your kid suddenly chirpy, excited and happy post shooting those angry birds or clearing another level with a high score
What Are The Possible Disadvantages Of Video Games For Children?
Most often, it is violence that gets blamed as the bad effect of playing video games. Everything serves a purpose, but only under moderation and parental guidance. If your child is addicted to video games, the following negative effects could kick in:
1. Promote violence and aggression:
Kids tend to act those kicks and punches in real during fights. Video games promote the idea of being aggressive and violent way too much. Fine out the effect of violent movies on toddler here.
2. Addictive in nature:
Too much gaming may lead to disinterest in other activities. Higher scores may just catch the child’s fancy and he may simply sit glued to the game. Find out how to break the toddler’s addiction to TV
Being lazy and finding excuses to get back to the game leads to a lack of discipline in general life
Loses the value of empathy:
Too much exposure to violence rewarded by points and bonus de-sensitizes against violence. A child feels that it is okay to be aggressive, and sound rude.
Affects academic performance:
Like everything else, excess of everything can be bad. If not controlled, your child may put all his energy in playing video games and his academics may suffer. Find out how to deal with bad academic performance.
Reduces physical activity:
The outdoor physical activity in the sun and fresh oxygen is vital in those developing years. If your child prefers sitting inside glued to video games, it could prove detrimental to his health
Hampers social life:
Your kid may not leave game to meet relatives and opt to stay home and play rather than go for picnic. A child may become an introvert and loose the essence of social connections. He can also be a loner
Alters perception towards women by their portrayal as damsel in distresses wearing revealing clothes
Junk food is portrayed cool in games. Have a burger for energy or take some fries to wake up. Not at all a good idea! Find out tips to prevent obesity in children.
Video games promote and reward violent actions and vengeance. Aggression is awarded and negotiation and other solutions are not given as options. Read more on the subject here
Impulsive behavior is encouraged in video games, and this may lead him to challenge rules, especially in schools
Practicing slangs and abuses might increase:
In the language development years, a child may learn inappropriate words and slangs from the games and you may be in for a nasty surprise someday
Reduces tolerance and increases anxiety:
A game is quick, at the hit of a button. This may press your child to have quick results all the time, making his tolerance and patience levels really low. He may also appear anxious at the hint of a slight delay
Kids may end up pondering over the characters, losing, winning and scores at bed time. Sleep disorders can set in as an impact of aggressive stories and actions, thinking about game
Strained eyes and sprained joints:
Too much of screen is sure to hurt your child’s eyes! Postural, muscular and skeletal disorders, such as tendonitis, nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome may crop up as a result of too much time spent on video games
Tips To Balance The Impact Of Video Games
- Become your child’s game buddy: with an authority figure around, you can expect less abuses and help him tame frustrations
- Monitor the game: Keep an eye on the content. Explain him that violence is not cool and guide him about violence and pain in real life
- Restrict time: No matter on which medium he plays video games, the time should be no more than two hours
- Encourage sports: Motivate him to excel in sports of his choice
- Inculcate a hobby: Involve him in other activities and develop a hobby
- Shop smart: Check reviews, content, themes in age-specific games for your child. Remember T is for teens, whilst M contains mature content
- Let it be fun: He is a kid, don’t overburden with educational content
- Start at beginners level: Don’t simply introduce him to complex games, allow him to learn, identify and progress
- Limit access: Games in Xbox and Wii has worldwide network. Do not disclose the password to your kid. This will safeguard against abuse and futile purchases
- Be a good role model: The amount of time spent by you playing candy crush saga and Farmville is not unnoticed by your sweetie
- Game discipline: Give him the responsibility to clean, store and cover the game and devices. Clean them occasionally as they attract germs
- Pool games: Allow your kid to bring friends home for playing games. Allows you to keep an eye on his behaviour and game content
- Common play area: Do not set up the gaming system in your kid’s room, it distracts
Best Video Games for Toddlers
Educational games: based on memory and patter recognition, spatial and cognitive skills
- Endless Ocean
- Dora the explorer
- Little Big Planet
Entertaining games: Motion-controlled games
- Sesame Street: Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece
- Just Dance kids
- Phineas and Ferb: quest for cool stuff
- Mario party 9
- Wii party u
- DuckTales Remastered
You can opt for Nintendo and Leapster explorer for your kid rather than the pricey PlayStations and XboX. These are designed for the tiny hands of your child and offer a plethora of family games.
Now join your kid in an adventure or practice spellings with his favourite cartoon! You can even shake a leg with your sweetie on a playful dance number and stay fit! Or simply sit back and regress to your childhood. Remember, gaming in moderation and supervision only will be beneficial!