Parental Control and Video Gaming

Many people of all ages have found video gaming enjoyable and entertaining. Video games involve interaction between the player and the user interface, which produce visual feedback on a screen like a computer or a video game console. The game has gained popularity all over the world in the recent past. Video gaming is encouraged by many psychologists as it sharpens one’s thinking and problem-solving skills (Gee 18). It is a form of entertainment that keeps players busy, thus helps them avoid idling or engaging in other destructive behaviors like doing drugs. They include casual games that are easier to understand and serious games that contain adventure simulation and action games. Casual games do not have violence, and instead improves players’ problem-solving techniques (Hartman-Stein 112). The different types of video games require different ages of players that are; simple games are suitable for kids, unlike the serious games. It is the duty of the video game manufacturers to specify these age restrictions, although that alone cannot prevent kids from obtaining inappropriate video games. Parents should be able to control the type of video games their kids have access to as some may corrupt their thoughts and how they view certain aspects of life. However, they should not control these games too much because they are advantageous and help in kids’ development.

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Video gaming improves players’ visual ability. They are able to see dim objects and small writing. In young adults, research has shown that they are able to learn new things through video gaming (Kathy and Madill 449). Playing of video games like Call of Duty 2 improves contrast in vision. For people suffering from Amblyopia, that is poor development or loss of central vision in either of the eye, video gaming is recommended by eye specialists. A research was conducted on Amblyopic patients where they were told to play action video games that involved shooting at targets. They then played a non-action game involving the construction of an object. This went on for one month and results reflected a 30% improvement in vision in both cases (McFedries 19).

Playing video games has also been shown to improve the cognitive ability of many players especially the elderly (Sanford and Madill 450). World of Warcraft, for instance, is a challenging game that provides a novel situation for players in an interactive environment. World of Warcraft involves fighting monsters and completing of quests where one picks on the role of a character. Players of this game tend to learn fast and integrate new ideas.

Video gaming is nowadays applied in many hospitals and medical centers for physiotherapy. Patients with physical injuries when given video games have shown faster recovery. This has been attributed to the fact that video games enhance motor functions and coordination. Furthermore, the games enable the patients keep their mind off the injuries and pain as they require concentration. The video games also improve coordination of the hands and the eyes since both of them are required to work simultaneously. This hand-eye coordination is essential in real life situations, and video gamers, therefore, have an advantage over non-players (Gunter 171).

Some video games are always set by manufacturers according to levels or stages which have different speed limits. Successful playing in one stage qualifies the player to the next stage which has a faster speed. Because the games involves thinking and finding solutions, the faster speed levels also enables players to think, make decisions and implement such decisions faster. These skills are of paramount importance in real life and enable one think and act faster even in crises.

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Some video games are useful in educating players especially kids. Simple games that involve identifying shapes and objects and constructing them enhance the kids’ learning process (Gee 109). The kids see two and three-dimensional objects and become familiar with them. This makes it easier for them to understand the actual teaching of such shapes and objects in school. The players are able to sharpen their language skills especially in games that involve following instructions. The player must understand the instructions before they follow them. Such instructions involve the use of prepositions and names of objects which the player must know. Players also sharpen their reading skills as game instructions are displayed on the screen for them to read.

Video games involving historical events, administrative roles and construction of cities enable the players to become self-confident especially if they win such games. The self-confidence is then reflected in real life, and this enable kids to adjust to social life, and relate well with others. Apart from this, the games involve teamwork that sharpens the players’ ability to relate with others and share ideas in order to solve a problem.

Not all video games are beneficial to players especially kids. They can promote violence among many other negative behaviors in kids. This call for measures to control video gaming and this should be done by parents assisted by manufacturers of video games. Some of the negative effects of video games are discussed below. Most kids who play video games and even adults for longer hours tend to be overweight (Kirsh 79). This is brought about by the fact that as they sit for longer hours their bodies lack exercise. The purpose of exercising is to burn calories that would otherwise cause an increase in body weight. Compared to non-players who participate in physical activities outdoors, video gamers are overweight. Continuous sitting for long without physical exercise is a predisposing factor for obesity (Kirsh 98).

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Violent video games are preferred by most players and often manufacturers sell more compared to non-violent or non-action ones. For kids, this affects them negatively since the games portray violence as a solution to problems (Ward 613). The games involve the players identifying themselves with violent characters and uses violent weapons like guns, knives and even bombs. The idea of solving problems through violence is built in kids, and most of them show aggression, both verbal and physical, in life (Gee 119). Such kids are constantly involved in fights at home or at school. These games should be restricted and made unavailable for kids.

Video gaming can cause addiction. Mostly, boys and young men tend to be addicted more than girls. Addicted players tend to play extensively and may spend more than ten hours playing. When denied video games, addicts become irritated and withdrawn (Hartman-Stein 44). They hardly concentrate in class and prefer video gaming during their free time. When given the chance they would rather miss school and avoid family and friends to play games. Such people become antisocial, and the video games become their obsession (Ward 611). For addicted adults, they let go of personal relationships with their spouses or friends to play games.

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Playing video games for longer periods can cause eye problems because the eye is strained. Routine posture when playing video games can also cause spinal injuries because the back is strained (Gunter 39). Fingers and wrists may also be strained due to continuous pressing of buttons. These problems are associated with symptoms like backaches, headaches or migraines and pain in the eyes, dizziness. Video gaming has been shown to reduce concentration spans of kids if they spend more than two hours playing. All types of video games, whether action or non action causes reduced attention irrespective of age or gender.

It is exceedingly evident from the foregoing discussion that there are “good” and “bad” video games. Selection of the appropriate type is necessary for positive development of kids. It is also crucial for parents to regulate the time limit for playing video games to avoid addiction, obesity, reduced concentration span and all the other adverse effects of video gaming. To effect this control, parents are advised to purchase video games that have parental control features like PlayStation 3, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS ,PlayStation 2 among others. When setting up these games initially, parents should be present to select the suitable games. They should ensure that the kids do not activate inappropriate games without monitoring. Other control measures include installation of software that is available to control time of playing games thus prevent addiction. Example of such software is the SurveilStar Any Parental Control Software (McFedries 101). Timing machines like Video Game Timer Bob, Play Limit, and Token Timer among many others can also be used to control video gaming time.

Solutions to the negative effects of video gaming are available if parents are willing to take time and involve themselves in their children’s gaming activities. If they do so then, video games will only be viewed positively as enhancers of kids’ educational growth and development.

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