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Video Games and Their Effect on Children

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Video Games and Their Effect on Children

Rowan Lane

IT 150G



We have always wondered if the games we play and the shows we watch affect how we act.  Most people seem to believe that the things we play and observe do change us and that is expressed in many different articles and statistics.  One of the most impressionable types of people are children; since their mind is still growing and developing, many outside things can change the way they grow. Whether the change in behavior is helpful or not, the study in the variations in behavior should be monitored in order to increase our knowledge on the subject.  Since many human behavioral studies are considered unethical, we are only able to observe certain natural examples and use the results to determine a level of correlation between video games and behavior in subjects.  Through this research, I plan to discover more about the behavioral spectrum and learn why video games might have an effect on children.  I decided to choose this topic because it intrigues me and I want to further examine it.  Both positive and negative results have been visible in children who play video games and each have many important factors to consider.  A child who plays video games, has the possibility to suffer from negative consequences that disrupt their growth and cause certain developmental complications.  However, the opposite can also be true; some types of video games encourage positive behavior and teach children valuable life skills that help them grow and develop.

By researching this topic, I hope to discover the different effects that video games might have and if they really effect a child’s development[pic 1]

A study from shows that nearly 91% percent of children (ages 2-17) play video games; including many different kinds of games. (Fig. 1) This shows the percentages of kids who play video games and the type of games they play; separated by age.  There are many types of gaming but in the past few years, a  new kind of gaming has risen to the scene due to the rapid advancement of technology.  Because of this exponential evolution, especially in smartphones, mobile gaming has become more accessible and more fun to play.

With the rapid evolution of technology, owning a smart device has become a social norm; even in children. Mobile[a] gaming is not the only popular type; there are many other popular platforms for gaming and each different gaming platform has its own risks and benefits and can affect a child in a different way.  Every video game has an affect on the player; no matter if it is positive or negative.

The majority of  video games are designed in a way so that the player would have the initiative and desire to continue playing. Because of this tactic, it is easy for people, especially children, to develop different kind of attention problems.  Certain mental disorders such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety can be a result of overexposure to video games.  Children and other adolescents can develop these disorders when they play too much of a certain game.  When it comes to children, it is far easier for them to become addicted to a video game; which can cause many problems that can hinder their growth and development.  A child who is exposed to an unhealthy amount of video games might end up with many different long-term and short-term problems.  If a child plays a game too much, it might make other things seem less important and that can cause their academic performance to suffer and it can place a strain on personal relationships.  

At a young age, it is especially easy for kids to get addicted to things and if they have too much screen-time it might make many other things seem less important.  In addition to a video game addiction, kids may isolate themselves from the real world because it isn’t as interesting as the game they play.  Kids are not the only ones who can suffer from this kind of isolation; a study performed by Iowa State University found that 8.5 percent of Americans from the ages 8 to 18 had a video game addiction of one sort or another.  

With the ever-expanding world of gaming, there are many games which use of gore and explicit content.  The overuse of certain video games can cause the influx of the fight or flight mechanism in the brain. The fight or flight mechanism is a chemical reaction that happens in the brain when it feels threatened by a stressful situation.  This reaction causes the increase in adrenaline and if triggered too often, it can cause to a state of chronic stress.

Chronic stress, though harmful itself, can lead to more destructive problems that can cause physical health problems in later life.  Mental health problems can affect anyone at almost any age and if not properly diagnosed and treated, could lead to extreme psychological complications. Depression has been more common among adolescents now than it has been in the past.  In a study conducted in China, students from the ages of 13 and 18 years old were tested to determine if there was a correlation between internet use and mental health.  The results showed that adolescents who used the internet compulsively were 2 ½ times more likely to show symptoms of depression.  There are many different views when it comes to the issue of video game anger and whether or not it is caused by the game itself or the individual’s response to the game.  "When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” (Ryan, 2014).  Many people seem to agree with this statement and the idea that violent video games do not lead to violet tendencies and anger issues.  However, in an article written by Victoria L. Dunckley, she tells the tale of a ten-year old boy, who expressed actions of explosive rage.  She relates the emotional outbursts to his electronic use.  “He exhibited signs of what I call Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS), which is characterized by a state of hyperarousal and emotional dysregulation from cumulative amounts of overstimulating screen-time.” (Dunckley, 2012).  In another article by the same author, the story of Aiden, a nine-year-old who exhibited video game induced rage after being exposed to an extended amount of video game time, was told.  Dunckley describes that video games can cause the brain to release various chemicals like dopamine that help keep an interest on the game.  In Aiden’s case, when his little sister innocently tries to get his attention, a primal response in Aiden’s brain causes his brain to switch into fight-or-flight mode; making Aiden shove his sister aside.



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