Video games have become the favorite hobby of many , especially among children and teenagers, and thanks to technological advances, there is a wide variety of titles. In addition, the graphic quality is increasingly surprising.
It is not surprising then that the number of children who enjoy playing them has grown exponentially.
However, it is important to keep in mind that this type of entertainment has its advantages and disadvantages, in order to be aware of any situation that could endanger the physical and mental health of our children and adolescents.
“The best legacy of a father to his children is a little of his time each day.”
-Leon Battista Alberti-
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Benefits of video games
Video games represent several benefits for children and adolescents, as they offer them a pleasant and fun way to learn and develop various skills.
Among the positive aspects of video games are (although not in all cases):
They can help lower anxiety levels
This is what Sara Martínez and her collaborators point out in an article from 2018; This happens because they allow you to focus your attention on the present.
Many video games require you to have a quick reaction time in order to keep going. This speeds up the processing of information and shortens the time it takes to issue a response.
They favor the development of critical thinking
Through video games, children and adolescents can develop critical thinking by having to consider the variants of the game and by having to make decisions based on all the information.
develop and improve attention
By having to focus on the tasks related to the game, the attention work that the child does is essential to be able to advance and/or win.
They stimulate creativity
The stimulation of creativity is due to the fact of having to find solutions to the problems that arise in the different video games.
Foster leadership development
Video games can encourage correct decision making and the need to resolve conflicts.
Improve social skills
Specifically, what they improve are those skills related to teamwork. This is so mainly in titles or video games that allow multiple players.
Speed up visual responsiveness
This is due to the fact that the child or adolescent must be aware of various elements in the game.
Disadvantages of video games
Although video games can be of great help to develop many skills and even be excellent therapeutic tools, there are some factors that are not positive, and among these are (not in all cases):
They can increase aggressiveness
Many of the titles available on the market today are violent and/or gory in nature, and this exposure to violence can encourage aggressive behavior.
Some video games use vulgar language and show highly sexualized images
This can lead to some confusion and imitation of this type of language in some children and adolescents.
It can promote overweight
The fact of playing for long periods of time favors a sedentary lifestyle and, therefore, overweight, something not healthy. And even more so if physical activities or sports are not carried out on a regular basis.
They promote isolation
If children spend a lot of time playing video games, they can stop socializing, and they lose important interpersonal skills by not knowing how to act if they are not in front of a screen.
They can cause addiction
If their use is not controlled, they can lead to addiction. For many young people, video games become so relevant in their lives that they become a kind of necessary stimulus to feel good.
A public health issue
In 2019, the World Health Organization ( WHO ) saw the need to include a new mental health problem: addiction to video games, as it became clear that this is a real problem that affects more and more people , especially children and adolescents.
The importance of controlling time and quality
The problem has escalated very quickly and has become a concern for mental health specialists, who warn parents about the importance of controlling the time and quality of video games that their children are exposed to.
However, as experts point out, detecting video game addiction can turn out to be a very complex matter in some cases.
Some symptoms of video game addiction
It is important to pay attention to the behavior of our children in order to determine if they are at risk of becoming addicted to video games.
Among these behaviors is the fact of presenting a lot of despair and anxiety to return home soon to play.
They also avoid going out to places where they cannot connect or have access to video games, preferring to be indoors than to play or socialize with their peers, spending most of their time in front of a console.
- Impact on studies and care
More symptoms: their academic performance suffers, they don’t do homework, they don’t study, they do poorly on tests, and some teachers may say that they are distracted in class, as if their minds are somewhere else.
- Changes in schedules
They stop attending activities they used to enjoy and their eating and sleeping schedules are affected.
It is also important to pay attention to what they verbalize, since their topics of conversation generally revolve around video games, in addition to always asking for them as a gift.
The importance of asking for help
If your child or someone you know is exhibiting any of these warning signs, we recommend seeking professional help.
An evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist is necessary to determine if it is a disorder and to assess what treatment to follow.
Our role as parents
Our role as parents is to be attentive and involved in the lives of our children, and this also applies to video games.
It is important that you are clear that these types of games in themselves are not bad nor do they necessarily imply the development of an addiction; what matters is their use, how children play with them and what interference this use has in their lives (if any).
Thus, it is essential that as parents we can supervise what our children and young people play and how they play. Orientation is very important , mainly with the misconceptions that can be created about violence, justice, gender and even the use of language.
Establish guidelines and rules of use
It is also necessary that as parents we establish with them rules for the use and enjoyment of video games, with times to play clearly established .
In addition, it is necessary that video games are part of leisure time as long as the rules, tasks or responsibilities established both at home and at school are complied with.
“It is beautiful that parents become friends with their children, dispelling all fear, but inspiring great respect.”