Table of Contents
The era of information and technology brought many possibilities for the development and growth of children but it also created many challenges for parents as they are unable to cope with children’s addiction to video games. The video games industry is constantly growing and is the most competitive one; therefore, it provides games to even very young children and makes them interested in them as they mature. Thus, children begin to suffer from depression and stress when they are not allowed to play or have no access to the Internet or computers. Furthermore, children`s health is negatively impacted as computers negatively affect their vision and lead to scoliosis. Finally, video games make children isolated, lonely and aggressive as they prefer the virtual world to face-to-face interaction. Consequently, the purpose of this research paper is to discuss the negative effects of video games on the mental, physical and social state of children.
Video games have a negative impact on mental health of children as they become emotional, sensitive and unable to control their feelings. According to Anderson and Murphy (2003), video games provoke an aggressive behavior that is a result of instrumental aggression motivation. For example, recent shootings at school show that children are obsessed with video games. The symptoms of mental health problems are heavy gaming, and constant depression during adolescence and in young adulthood (Anderson & Murphy, 2003). Moreover, children spending much time playing can feel sleeplessness, anxiety, fear, and aggression to those who intend to deprive them of the opportunity to play their favorite game (Desai, et al., 2010). Zemani, et al. (2009) regard video games addiction as a mental disease that leads to social functioning disorder, depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. It means that children fail to control themselves and can demonstrate violence and cruelty to others or physically harm themselves. Dai and Fry (2014) determine addiction to video games as a mental disease that creates many challenges for parents to prevent children from playing. Not without a reason, video game addiction has gained a name of a pathological disorder or gaming disorder that results in behavioral challenges. The major symptoms of video game addiction are recurrent and persistent engagement in game playing and heavy gaming with inability to control time (Desai, et al., 2010). Video games addiction becomes a serious problem for the modern society and a negligent attitude to it can result in an increase of violence and cruelty promoted by video games.
Video games have a negative impact on physical health of children as playing games presupposes staying in front of the computer for a long time. According to Dai and Fry (2014), playing violent games increases the probability of nausea, dizziness, and increased heart rate. Moreover, children addicted to video games spend less time outdoors, are less active and can suffer from obesity and scoliosis. For example, 12,1 % of children aged between 2-5 are obese, 18% of children aged between 6-11 are obese, and 18,4% of children aged between 12-19 are obese (Dai & Fry, 2014). It means that children are not interested in participating in sports and activities that benefit their physical health. Consequently, video games make children not only addictive but lazy and passive and that is one of the causes of physical health issues. Furthermore, most researchers prove that playing video games is associated with weakened immunity, physiological dysfunction, and lack of physical energy. Moreover, heavy video game playing can lead to impulse control disorder, easting disorder, dissociative disorder, substance related disorder, anxiety disorder, and mood disorder (Desai, et al., 2010). These findings are objective and justified as most players are negligent about their health issues and are too busy with playing to find time for eating, cooking, sleeping, and resting.
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Playing video games has a negative impact on the social development of children as they are deprived of the face-to-face interaction and are totally absorbed in the virtual world. According to Dai and Fry (2014), children who are obsessed with playing video games demonstrate behavioral changes with more aggressive patterns; therefore, it is difficult for them to make friends as they can be hot-tempered and violent. Anderson and Murphy (2003, 423) regard video games playing as a threat for the society as it is a potentially dangerous way of “antisocial media-based socialization”. It is obvious that video games prevent both children and adults from interaction and socialization due to their addiction to the virtual world and diversity in the expression of violence and cruelty. Moreover, children become less skillful at socialization and lose the ability to express their feelings and emotions. Day and Fry (2014, 1) state: “By spending so much time on their game console or on the computer, children are missing out on their social life”. Thus, children do not want to take part in extracurricular activities and go out with their peers thus making them unable to make friends and meet new people. The results of various studies show that boys are more addicted to playing video games than girls; therefore, they have low scores in academic, behavioral, and interpersonal skills (Day & Fry, 2014). Moreover, these problems can further lead to suffering, loneliness, failures, and inability to succeed. Anderson and Murphy (2003) regard video games as the potentially dangerous means of antisocial behavior that can result in committing crimes and demonstrating violence in all its forms. Moreover, children addicted to video games can show social phobia and hostility to others especially when they begin to prove that their behavior is strange and unaccepted. Not without a reason, such children opt to be lonely and isolated from others to remain in their virtual world. Furthermore, children, who are addicted to video games, regard them as a source of self-efficacy, which can help them deal with school-related anxieties and lower social competence.
Playing video games has also a positive impact on children and can benefit their social skills and cognitive functions. According to Dai and Fry (2014), video games make children more organized and disciplined as playing games presupposes following instructions and recommendations carefully to achieve the desired outcome. Thus, video games make children more concentrated, focused, attentive, and persistent in the fulfillment of the objectives. Furthermore, children, who play video games, know the meaning of the problem-solving aspect and learn to deal with issues themselves. It means that video games teach them how to be autonomous and independent and rely upon their own forces. Moreover, there are many educational games that contribute to the development of one`s mind, strategic thinking, logical thinking, and creativity; therefore, they can be used by teachers to make the educational process more effective. In addition, children interested in video games are aware of such concepts as pattern recognition, mapping, and management of resources, strategy, and anticipation. Thus, such children know how to do quantitative calculations, practice reading, and assess the situation and choose priority actions. Furthermore, playing video games presupposes multitasking, therefore, making game players more intelligent, creative and able to make rational and logical decisions. Finally, video games can help in the development of spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.
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However, these benefits can be also achieved if one is engaged in sports, reading, and other educational activities. Thus, the positive aspects of video games are less significant than the negative ones. First, excessive game playing can slow down mental development and cognitive functions as children who spend much time in front of the computer are unable to demonstrate interest in other activities and apply the skills received from playing games to other areas. For example, the fact that children know quantitative calculations and problem-solving aspects does not mean that they can apply them at school. Not without a reason, Dai and Fry (2014) insist that children are not interested in educational games that can benefit them a little but focus their attention on violent games that lead to total degradation and physical and moral devastation. It means that children do not intend to play games for self-development and growth but for pleasure. It is obvious that the problem of children’s addiction to playing video games needs immediate solutions to prevent the negative impact on physical, mental, and social aspects of their development. First, the parents should take an active part in the life of their children and should not neglect the behavioral changes and sitting in front of the computer for hours (Copeland, 2010). Second, it is necessary to ban violent video games as the way of the prevention of cruelty and violence in the society. Furthermore, both schools and families should make children busy with other activities like sports, learning foreign languages, singing, and/or dancing to reduce the time children spend playing video games. Moreover, school administration officers should forbid playing video games during the educational process and during breaks. Dai and Fry (2014) recommend parents to monitor what games their children are playing. Finally, parents should be aware of and informed about everything what their children are doing and what types of games they are playing. Ignorance and negligence are among the main reasons of video games addiction.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that video games have negative effects on the mental, social, and physical state of children, their health and emotional well-being. It is a competitive and profitable business for game makers, but for children and their parents, games are the driving forces of stress, negative emotions, depression and health problems. The results of this research paper show that video games destroy mental health of children making them unable to control their feelings, making them emotional, aggressive and violent and provoking sleeplessness, anxiety, and fear. Video games cause much harm to physical health of children leading to nausea, dizziness, obesity, scoliosis and increased heart rate. One`s social development is also affected by playing video games as children become less sociable, hot-tempered, violent, and aggressive when interacting with their peers. The counterargument that video games contribute to the development of mind, strategic thinking, logical thinking, and creativity does not reduce the negative effects of video games, which include degradation and moral and physical devastation of children. Thus, the only solution to this problem is parents` awareness and constant monitoring of their children`s activities and their involvement in other activities, thus, creating less time for playing video games. It is also recommended to ban video gaming at school and involve both teachers’ and parents’ efforts in finding the activities that will be more interesting for children than playing video games.