boy and a girl playing video game

Video games have been on the market for a few decades. In that time, questions have been raised on whether playing the games has any effect on children. Parents, teachers and researchers, have been asking this question for years. The answer is not cut and dry.

Studies have indicated playing video games can have both a negative impact and a positive impact on some children. But things become more complicated after that. The amount of time a child plays the games, the type of game played, the child’s personality and other factors also play a role in whether playing video games directly effects a child.

Possible Effects
Video games vary greatly from sports oriented games, to games of skill. Games currently on the market also include those that involve violent images, gore and blood. It is these games, which involve violence that researchers have questioned the most.

According the American Psychology Association, research has indicated children who repeatedly play violent video games tend to act more aggressively than children who do not play the same games. One interesting fact regarding some studies conducted is both children who had aggressive tendencies and children who did not were equally effected by violent video games.

Children are forming their view of the world and how to relate to others. Repeatedly seeing violent images, such as in video games, may impact the way a child learns to deal with difficult situations. Although the impact from playing video games is only one small factor in how children develop skills, such as conflict resolution it does appear to have some effect.

Benefits
Most of the time when you hear about video games and the effects they can have on children, you think of the negative effects. Can playing video games actually have any positive effects on children? The answer may surprise you.

Some games may help foster creatively in children and help them develop problem solving skills. Depending on the game, it can be educational as well as entertaining. Certain video games may also help kids develop strategic thinking. Children also often play video games together with friends, which can help kids develop cooperation and learn to work effectively together

Tips
There are several things parents can do to help decrease any negative effects playing video games will have on their children without banning them completely. Consider the following suggestions:

• Take a look at ratings: Video games now have ratings written on the front of the games. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board assigns a rating to a video game based on the content of the game. Ratings include early childhood, everyone, everyone age 10 and over, teen, mature and adult only. Content descriptions are also available, which will indicate whether the game contains gore, fantasy violence, intense violence or profanity.

• Read reviews: In addition to ratings, parents can read reviews of the games before their children play them. Reviews from consumer organizations, such as Common Sense Media, can help parents decide if the game is age appropriate for their child or has any educational value.

• Play the game yourself: If you are in doubt about whether a game is acceptable for your child, consider playing it together or play it before your child. This will allow you a chance to see firsthand what is involved in playing the game.

• Put a time limit on it: Even if video games will not have any negative impact on your child, sitting in front of a video game all day is never a good idea. While a little time spent playing games may be acceptable, hours on end is not a good idea.

Bottom line
The question of video games and their impact on children will likely continue to be asked and debated. Some research studies do indicate an effect on children who frequently play violent video games. But just how much is too much is not completely clear. Still, playing video games may often get a bad rap, but there may not only be negative effects. Playing some games can even be beneficial.

The bottom line is, you know your child best and know what types of games are not appropriate. While a little time playing an age appropriate video game is probably fine, kids can go overboard. Children who spend too much time playing video games miss out on activities, such as sports, reading and spending times with their family. Like most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to playing video games.