Interactive video games have emerged as one of the most popular forms of entertainment, especially among children and adolescents. On average, children who have a video game machine at home spend about 90 minutes a day playing them. Video games vary in their content. In addition to being a form of entertainment, video games are also used in education, medicine, and other fields. There are many trends that parents find disturbing. Since video games are so popular with children, concern about games featuring violence, sex, and other adult themes become an issue for parents.
Playing video games has many positive effects on children. Video games can be used for therapeutic purposes such as assisting student with learning disabilities. Students with learning disabilities are able to learn effectively when pursuing highly motivating computer game learning tasks (Funk, 1993). Through electronic games, children can control levels of difficulty; game rules and tools for problem solving, allowing them to construct cognitive skills. Video game playing also contributes to improved hand and eye coordination, reaction time, and attention to detail. Some studies have shown that the format of video games, and the games themselves, can be effective when used for instructional purposes. Video games can also impact the daily activities and interaction of children and families. Results from a recent study suggest that video games have brought families together for shared play and interaction. Last, video games are a good way of introducing children to computers.
Playing video games has several negative effects on children, too. Critics believe that performing violent actions in video games may be more conducive to children’s aggression than watching violent acts on television. The more children practice violent acts, the more likely they are to perform these violent acts (Clark, 1993). Young children who play video games tend to act similarly to how their video game character acted. This may cause children to become now aggressive towards other children, and more likely to engage in real-life violence (Funk, 1193). Many experts believe that much of the damage caused by these games is negligible as long as the children can separate fantasy from reality. Another problem is that games stress autonomous action rather than cooperation. Most games are based on a theme of a single character performing an aggressive act against a single enemy. The world of video games has little to do with working as a part of a team. The social content of video games may influence the attitudes of children toward gender roles (Provenzo, 1992). Women are usually acted upon rather than the initiators of action, and in some cases they are shown as victims. Playing video games is also associated with a variety of physical effects including increased metabolic and heart rate, seizures, and tendinitis. Video games have negative effects, but they valuable learning tools for children.
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