Video games are loved by old and young alike. But it is useful to wonder how video games affect children whether in a good way or a bad way.
The video game industry is a great business opportunity and a huge money making one. Many of the games have some combination of addiction, violence, vulgarity and perverseness. This has a negative effect on unsuspecting but highly impressionable young minds of children.
Most parents, who have the ultimate responsibility for their children, are unaware of the ESRB ratings that guide the appropriateness of video games.
It has been found that the children who play violent video games are characterized by
1. More aggressiveness
2. Confrontation with teachers
3. Fighting with their peers and
4. A decline in school achievements.
All this affects the overall personality of the child in the long run. I would add that the games have the ability to also cause mood changes, a friend of mine mentioned that her child suddenly started having nightmares. After some mum investigation, she realized it started after he got a game console and would play before bedtime. Once he stopped playing the games, the nightmares reduced.
Totally banning video games from the household might not be practical, given the popularity of the video games and peer pressure. Stopping children from doing something makes them even more interested in doing that activity. The companies are not going to be that concerned about the effect on their children. Rather, parents should more closely monitor the games that their children play as well as set rules in place to restrict the number of hours spent playing games.
There are many games which are really fun to play and playing them can actually be beneficial for the youngsters. Children can learn about problem-solving, logical thinking and strategy planning. [Read: How Screen Time is Turning Children into Technology Junkies]
The only solution left is in the hands of the parents. Parents should get to know what their children are playing on their computers or consoles. They must find out the rating system and see that their child is playing only what has been recommended for his / her age. While it is extreme to ban video games altogether, it would be prudent to limit the time kids get to play the games.
You might ask is there any measure of truth to the suggestion that violence in video games is bad for little kids? The short answer: Of course!
It doesn’t take a genius to know that 8-year-olds should not be spending their
days carrying out acts of extreme digital violence. As obvious as this would seem, some people clearly don’t get it because they are not aware of the nature of violence in some of these video games.
Just as children should not be allowed to eat junk food all day, so should they not be allowed to play digital ‘junk’ all day.
What Can Parents Do?
The video game industry adopted the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) rating system. This system functions in much the same way as the rating system used by the film industry.
Every concerned parent should check the rating and determine whether or not it is appropriate for their child. The ESRB rating system consists of two parts, the actual rating and a brief description of the content.
Standard ratings used by the ESRB are:
- EC: Early Childhood
- E: Everyone
- T: Teen
- M: Mature 17+
- AO: Adults Only 18+
The content descriptions set forth by the ESRB serve to explain the ratings. Examples of content descriptions are Blood and Gore, Language, Nudity, Mature Humor, etc.
So there is frankly little excuse for children to get their hands on inappropriate video game content, as long as their parents are at least somewhat interested in the types of games they are playing. It’s clear enough that young people are best left unexposed to certain types of content, so instead of pointing a finger at the game producers and trying to shrug off the responsibility of being parents, more people should use ratings system correctly and eliminate potential problems before they start.