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Definitional Argument Kristie

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 11 months ago

The Effects of Gaming on Children

 

This is still rough draft and wll probalby have some last minute changes as I try to be productive at work tomorrow. This is what I have for now...

 

JanTwentyNine

 

It seems like everyone has an opinion about the effect of gaming on children. The internet is full of information, statistics, case studies and psychological examinations from experts to active parents and teachers. Media plays a large part on how we develop and what we will become. Business Week reported that Americans spent over $21 billion purchasing video games in 2008. This was compared to an estimated $18 billion in 2007. Studies show that a large percent of these games are played by children. With this number on the rise, we can afford to ask the question, “How do these games affect our children”. It seems as if there are as many questions as there are answers.

Games are played by children of all ages, from preschool to high school. Although preschoolers lack the motor skills needed to play video games because most games use a controller, this does not mean that video games for preschoolers do not exist. Studies show that preschoolers ages 2-5 play an average of 28 minutes a day (Gentile 2004). Most games created for this age are educational and need some sort of supervision. Every gaming company has something for the preschool child. From Play Station to Nintendo, games offer Elmo’s Number Journey, Blue’s Clues-Blue’s Big Musical and Lego’s. The number of gaming hours increases with age. In 2005, The National Institute of Media and Family reported a study of 2000 8-18 year-olds. The found that 83% of these 3rd to 12th graders have at least 1 video game system in their home and almost 50% had one in their room (mediafamily.org). As the number of gaming hours increase so do the gaming options. Gaming companies create games for boys and girls with every interest imaginable.

Not only do boys and girls play different types of games, but on average play different amounts of games. Pediatrics for Parents reported that for the elementary and middle school ages, boys play 13 hours of video games per week while girls play 5.5 hours per week (Gentile 2004). Johannes Fromme, a professor at the University Of Magdeburg, Germany published an article on http://gamestudies.org in 2003. He was able to report on what games are preferred by boys and girls. The outcome was similar to the common traits or habit differences between boys and girls. Girls prefer jump and run or thinking games while boys prefer action and sports games. So, how do these different types of games affect our children?

Different types of associations have been established to support the management, marketing and selling of the home gaming industry. To provide ratings on the different types of games available today, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was established in 1994. The ratings range from EC – Early Childhood to AO – Adults Only. Although games do not have to be rated, most games in the United States and Canada choose to be rated by this organization. In addition, most retailers in the United States not only post the ESRB rating scale, but enforce it when selling their products to customers of different ages. The ESRB has a helpful active website, www.ESRB.org that can be used for many options. The ESRB website lists the actual ratings, has Parental Resources, answers FAQs for retailers, game creation companies and parents as well as gives the game creation companies the access to register their games to be rated. The Entertainment Software Association (www.theesa.com) was also established in 1994 as the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) and changed to its current name in 2003. The ESA is “dedicated to serving the business and public affair needs of the companies that publish computer and video games for video game consoles, personal computers and the Internet.” The Entertainment Merchant Association (www.entmerch.org), established in 1997 has a mission statement of “To protect the right to sell and rent entertainment software; promote the sale and rental of entertainment software; and provide a forum engaged in the sale and/or rental of entertainment software. Each of the associations listed are non-profit associations or organizations.

So, the ESRB rates the different types of games available. What kinds of games are there and how do they affect our children? With my personally limited gaming experience, I get my gaming information from friends and colleagues. The most popular types of games are sports games, music and entertainment or fighting games. With fighting games being some of the most popular games available and played, the effects of violent games on children is probably the most controversial topic debated. The child psychologists are passionate about the studies that show increased violence in children who play video games compared to those who do not. On the other side of the argument, the ESA conducts studies to combat the negative press and data presented by different media.

The level of violence is determined by the ESRB Ratings. Even the second lowest rating of “E” has “mild violence” included. Is this information taken into account by those who read fact like, “A majority of 4th to 8th grade children prefer violent games” and “Almost all (98%) of pediatricians believe that violent media have a negative effect on children” (Gentile 2004)? To deflect these claims, The ESA reminds us that common sense overcomes the effect of violent video games and human nature wins out in the end. They claim that blaming violent video games for violent acts is a convenience, simplistic and is out and out wrong. EAS has retaliated with statistics such as, “Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the 1990’s. During this same period of time, video games have steadily increased in popularity and use, exactly the opposite of what one would suspect if there was a causal link.” This is just one of the hot topics in the great gaming debate.

Another popular argument is the overall health of the avid gamer and the increased popularity of video games. The National Institute of Media and Family reported that in 2005, children ages 8 to 18 spent more time (44.5 hours per week in front of a computer, television and game screen than any other activity in their lives except for sleeping. In 2006, The American Obesity Association estimated that 30.3% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight with more than 15% reaching an obese weight. The numbers are similar for ages 12 to 19. Even the ESA comments on the importance of health and physical activities. Tighter school budgets have decreased Physical Education classes in our schools. More serious medical issues have increased over the years as well. The American Obesity Association determined that Type II Diabetes has increased over the past decade. Other medical issues include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and even seizures.

Recently, the gaming community has responded to this increase in health awareness. One of the most popular gaming systems today is the Nintendo Wii. The Wii gets the gamer out of their seat and physically participating in a virtual game. Exercise has been replaced with “Exergames” ( www.theesa.com ). In addition to Wii, most of the gaming consoles have a games available called Dance, Dance Revolution (better known as DDR to those who love it). This game is played in arcades and homes across the states. YouTube has clips of DDR prodigies, parties have the DDR theme and arcades have contests. This is a great way for the avid gamer to incorporate their daily recommended exercise into their favorite pass time.

The last popular argument I’m going to touch on is going to be the great debate of the effect of games on personal intelligence. From the National Institute of Media and Family saying that children who play an excessive amount of video games have problems keeping up with school assignments to Pediatrics for Parents recommending that children not spend more than a few hours per day in front of an electronic screen (for non-academic use), both indicate that the overall effect of gaming on children is the potential decreased ability to learn. In 2005, ABC News reported a few finds of their own. ABC News reported a statement by Steven Johnson, a social critic and author of the controversial book, “Everything Bad Is Good for You”. Steven said, “All these things that have long been assumed to be rotting our brains, there might be this hidden benefit.” Most games involve problem solving, rewards for completed actions and repetitive actions. This is the common goal of teaching. Once you learn a step in life and rewarded for that action, you repeat that action to receive more rewards. ABC News continues to report that in recent studies, participants were asked to count the number of squares or objects on a flashed screen for 20 seconds with gamers having a 13% higher accuracy rate over non-gamers. Games have been created to teach everything from health awareness to business strategies to surgery. Having to strategize and analyze different situations from different perspectives creates quicker response time, increases awareness and attention to detail.

At the end of the day, we ultimately have our pros and our cons. So what are the pros and cons of being actively involved with video games? Video controllers will increase the practice of hand to eye coordination. This is great as companies move to increase automated productions. As a con, this could increase the possibly of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Video games call for increased concentration for an extended period of time. This can improve a child’s overall ability to actively concentrate on one subject in school for a set amount of time. On the con side, this could decrease a child’s ability to stay tuned in to their surrounding and create the ability to only concentrate on one activity at a time. With the job market calling for multi-tasking activities, will this cause issues in the long run? Gaming calls for problem solving while increasing reaction time and awareness while keeping you stationary and inactive physically.

So, we’ve heard the pros and the cons, the ups and the downs, the rights and the wrongs. At the end of the day what do we conclude? Who is right and who is wrong is probably the questions that will never be answered. As all good things in life, we need balance. A well balanced life with games of strategy and analysis to physical fitness and activities will help to keep us thinking on our toes and physically fit to spring to action as we grow up in life and develop from kids to big kids.

 

 

Kristie

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