Do video games help or harm children?

Studies show both positive and negative impacts of gaming on kids.

Video games have changed tremendously over the past three decades. Current games are very sophisticated and require players’ undivided attention and involvement. Several studies have been done over the years to track the positive and negative effects of video games on children.  Findings have been both positive and negative.

Positive impacts as a result of playing video games have been noted on a child’s eye hand coordination and an increase in computer skills. Improved graphics allow for a virtual experience, and this more real experience has a powerful influence on the lives of young people.

The downside of video games is that the more time children and teens spend playing violent video games the more likely they are to display aggressive behavior. Studies show "plugged-in" teens are more likely to be confrontational with adults, have fights at school and get poor grades. Even more startling is that these effects on aggressive behavior can be long lasting.

Parents can help by setting time limits for teens playing video games, not only on game systems, but on computers, smart phones, and tablets. Parents should educate themselves on video game content and video game ratings. The Entertainment Software Rating Board has established a rating system for video games, much like the movie and television industry. Ratings include: EC for children over 3, E for 6 and older, and T for teens. The video game ratings to be concerned about for children/teen usage would be: M for mature, AO for adults only, and RP which means rating pending. Parents can access the ESRB website to learn about rating definitions and to look up ratings for individual games.

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