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Ministry of Education.


Are video games harmful?

The most obvious harmful effect of video games is the violence and how it may lead to aggression, according to the National Institute on the Media and Family. They talk of how regularly playing violent video games might help to cause aggressive behaviour in children, adolescents and even adults. Their view is that the main problem lies with first person games where the player controls the game and tends to lose sight of what’s real and what made up. Their view was that it is up to parents to monitor this with children. When reading this I thought that they had a very valid point with linking first person games to real life and how easy it may be to cross the line between virtuality and real life, but not all games are like this.

More information about this harmful effect of video games came through in the results of a study done on children in America and Japan by a Psychology professor at Iowa State University, Craig Anderson. What his study found out was that “children who play violent video games show increased physical aggression months afterward”. I think that this report is interesting because drawn the results are similar in different countries. I would have liked to be able to find some results of research from NZ though, but I couldn’t find any information like that. Something that might be a bit of a concern also was the fact that “Tearaway’ talk about how lots of games in America stereotype African Americans as the bad guys.

Other harmful effects that are more of health effects come about because playing video games means long periods of physical inactivity. An article in the Christchurch Star , “ “Virtual overload disrupts sleep”, talked about how long periods of gaming can cause loss of sleep and lower back pain. A University of Florida professor of paediatrics and psychiatry, psychologist, Professor Eric Storch, identified another health effect in the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease for gamers who spend long periods sitting playing video games. I question how widespread these health effects are though and they didn’t back it up with statistics. The statistics from ‘Tearaway’ ( 44% gamers are over 44) suggest not all gamers would spend such long periods playing, so really only gaming addicts are at risk of these problems. It might be difficult to actually prove how many of these health problems are directly a result of playing video games.

Published on: 11 Jan 2011