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Are Video Games Bad?

Part of what I do at Growing Leaders is travel and train. I speak to parents, teachers and coaches, as well as students. Some of the greatest Q and A times surface in these events. It seems adults are still trying to figure out this digital generation of kids. Imagine that. I am blogging about some of the most common questions I get this week. Today’s is a big one.

video-games-bad-for-kids

photo credit: smcgee via photopin cc

Question: Are video games bad for kids? How do I get my son to stop gaming and play outside? Or, should I let him play these games, since he’s staying out of trouble? Am I making too big a deal of this? Where do I draw the line?

Answer: Personally, I am not against video games. Certainly, there are some games that contain negative content, such as Grand Theft Auto and Halo, which I think should be avoided. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think it’s helpful to spend hours a day simulating theft and murder.

Apart from the content of the games, however, I think it’s helpful to initiate open and honest conversations with our kids about this issue. It’s likely they’ll have a different perspective than you do. They’ve grown up playing video games their whole life. It’s normal to them. What they may not know is—gaming has now been proven to foster asthma (from the sedentary posture) and near- sightedness (from hours in front of a screen).

In addition, all the legitimate research I’ve uncovered tells me the more time they spend playing video games, the poorer the student does in school. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Further, the average male teen spends 13.5 hours a week in front of a video game. It’s been shown to reduce their skills at interacting with the workaday world. Stanford University will no longer take “gamers” into their med school, because it requires faculty to do too much extra work to prepare them to operate on a real, three dimensional human being. That’s a bit scary to me.

So what do we do?

As I mentioned above, start conversations about the issue. Don’t be judgmental but show your son or daughter the research. (You can find it on-line, or in my book, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.)  I did this with my son, and later asked him what he thought. (I decided not to lay down a hard and fast rule but invite him to draw his own conclusion.) I was encouraged to hear him say, “Dad, I think I’m gonna cut back on the video games.”

If you set boundaries and limit the hours your kids play video games each week, come up with alternatives. Plan activities for them to replace the video game hours with exciting and engaging things for them to do. (Here’s a thought: get them outside exercising a bit.) The key is balance. Video games are not going away any time soon, and kids are going to enjoy them during their childhood. The balance is—we must help them find creative alternatives that will develop them as people and engage their minds as well as video games do. Is it really possible? You bet. I remember having plenty to do as a kid before video games ever came around. It can be done.

Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment.

 

generation-iy

 

 

For more ideas to engage the next generation, pick up a copy of Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

11 Comments

  1. Kevin on March 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Source please; couldn’t locate it. Thanks. – “Stanford University will no longer take “gamers” into their med school, because it requires faculty to do too much extra work to prepare them to operate on a real, three dimensional human being.”

  2. Gary on March 5, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I tend to agree that a time limit needs to be set. My research as a licensed professional counselor indicates that the screen activity produces higher levels of dopamine while watching the screen. The brain’s ability to keep up with the dopamine levels begins to slip after 45-60 minutes and mimics a crash after using cocaine. It takes a couple of hours before the brain can restore the base level dopamine. Meanwhile, most cognative functions will be reduced during this time. It also leaves the brain seeking stimulation which can lead to increased anger. I believe this research comes from Dr. Daniel Amens.

  3. Jess on March 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I am also looking for a source for the Stanford statement…

    • Kevin on March 7, 2013 at 8:05 am

      I guess he either doesn’t check his comments, or he stretched the truth. There’s research out of Stanford supporting video games in medicine (just search Google), which is why this was an odd point. Also curious how that’s determined in an application to med school…
      I can also think of games more violent and popular than Halo (one in particular), that lack the the well thought out story and supportive novel series to encourage reading, that would potentially be more harmful to children. (no, not being a fanboy – I just have kids). Still a hypothesis for the anti-gun movement though. I will agree that kids spend way too much time behind electronics. But every generation has their vices that parents thought were bad for kids.
      Lost a some respect for this site today.

  4. Johnny on March 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Is the author going to respond? This post should be removed and the author should apologize to his readers.

  5. Susie on March 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Tim – do you even read your comments? Can you at least acknowledge that you are seeing these? You are losing credibility daily- it has been over two weeks since you published this with united sources and haven’t responded to honest questions about it.

    • Kevin on March 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

      So much for being a real leader Tim. If this statement was false or stretched, credibility lies in taking responsibility for your actions. That is what you preach, correct? Otherwise, a source would easily resolve the question.

  6. jesse gray on May 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

    bull my kid wont stop playing games

    • KrazyCupcake Hearts on August 31, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Can you spell?

  7. Joseph on July 11, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Wow I read somewhere that video games help quicken reaction time, and that it’s proven that ” gamers ” become Better surgeons than normal people, and also, how the fuck would Stanford know if your a ” gamer ” or not. It’s like your just making things up.

  8. Anthony Harper on June 22, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Well, I don’t think video games are bad for kids; it’s depends on us how we are utilizing it. Playing computer games is an exercise for mind; it enhances the thinking power of them and makes them an active thinker. It depends on we parents that for how much time we are allowing them to play. I think there should be a time limit for this brain exercise and then back to studies. Thanks for adding the discussion. All parents should read this article at once. Check some good video games here: http://www.creativeeventservices.com/sports-video-game-rentals

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Are Video Games Bad?