Ever since I was a seven year old child I have been playing video games. From the original Playstation to the Playstation 2 to the Xbox 360 and now the Playstation 4, I have always found a deep enjoyment in console gaming. This got me wondering how video games affect children. How does it affect their weight, their social life, and their cognitive abilities? Although I like to think I turned out fine, was it possible video games were hampering my development? Or is it possible that they were helping me develop certain cognitive skills? It is difficult and inaccurate to determine if video games were hurting my development through pure reminiscence, so I will explore several scholarly articles and cross-examine the studies to come to a rough conclusion. To focus my thinking to one question, I will use the following hypothesis: how do video games affect kids? This hypothesis assumes video games do affect children in some way, but obviously there is always the possibility of video games having no real affect on children.
The first study I found was a longitudinal, all-inclusive study on how video games affect children’s behavior, school work, and weight. The study controlled several third variables including family structure, parental socioeconomic status, and lifestyle habits. It found that video games do not have a significantly negative affect on a child’s behavior, school work, or weight (Nakamuro). Another article studied if children learned faster through written instructions or video game assistance. The null hypothesis was if there was no difference between the two instruction methods. The study was well conducted because it was a randomized double-blind study with the result having a p-value of less than .05 (or 5%), which means it is scientifically significant. The study found that children learn much faster through video games than they do through written instruction (Chuang). This is significant to my hypothesis because learning faster through video games could help develop children’s reaction skills and other abilities through regular video games use.
There are also different schools of thought on this subject that are less friendly towards this teenage entertainment phenomenon. For example, this article summarizes and explains different examples of when kids’ video game habits affected their lives very negatively. Certain examples include gaining massive amounts of weight, becoming depressed, and behaving in a more violent manner (Olson). I would like to point out that this is not an experimental study, but a detailed account of several anecdotes. From a scientific perspective, these examples are less relevant than actual data. It is just like in class how we talked about how a former student knew prayer actually healed because he prayed for his family member and they survived their cancer. Although these were anecdotes, there is some evidence out there detailing a correlation between violence and video games like in this article.
My hypothesis was “how do video games affect kids?” My conclusion to that question is that I do not know. The first two studies that I examined provided evidence that video games would help kids learn and that they would not affect a child’s behavior, school work, or weight. Although this is tempting to conclude that video games affect children in a good way, there is too much research out there that says otherwise. A lot of the research done in opposition to video games is funded by conservative family organizations which makes me very skeptical about their findings, but at this point in time I can not write them off as nothing. Even though I lean towards one result, the summary of evidence is inconclusive.
Nakamuro, Makiko, et al. “are Television and Video Games really Harmful for Kids?”Contemporary Economic Policy, vol. 33, no. 1, 2015, pp. 29-43. doi:10.1111/coep.12058.
Chuang, Tsung-Yen, and Wei-Fan Chen. “Effect of Computer-Based Video Games on Children: An Experimental Study.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 12, no. 2, 2009, pp. 1.
Olson, Cheryl K. “Children and Video Games: How Much do we Know?” Psychiatric Times, vol. 24, no. 12, 2007, pp. 41.
Puiu, Tibi. “Do Violent Video Games Make Children More Aggressive?” ZME Science. N.p., 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. <http://www.zmescience.com/research/technology/violent-video-games-child-aggression-0534/>.
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