Modern world offers a wide choice of activities for children and teenagers to be engaged in and to spend their free time
Playing video games is one of the options, which is favored mostly by children and often by the adults. Though there is a vast discussion about whether these video games are useful or not, they are still popular and some positive qualities of them are announced by the players and their parents from time to time. This paper analyzes the meaning of video games for modern children and teenagers, discusses their positive and negative sides and strives to prove that video games can become a very useful element of the study process.
Nowadays people often consider video games to be a factor, which may initiate zombie apocalypse one day. Some individuals, especially the representatives of young generation, commonly play these games. It is worth noting that the negative impact of video games is constantly increasing, due to the fact that the number of children and teenagers, who devote their time to such an activity, grows every year, which is confirmed by the statistical data. Young individuals prefer this type of entertainment to all others. Some scholars state that the current and potential threat, which results from this tendency, is the damage caused to children’s physical health due to the excessive time spent in front of the computers. Active video game playing and passivity in real life are closely related.
The mental aspects of this harmful influence appear to be more significant and diverse, because they additionally include damaging of memory and of an ability to focus attention on something (for example writing a 5 paragraph essay outline became a very difficult task). As one of the key outcomes of such influence, scientists highlight the fact that it affects an educational performance of students outstandingly negatively. However, there is an opinion that video games improve students’ intellectual problem-solving and cognitive skills, which are crucial for their academic successes.
Modern transformation of an educational system influence the fact that video games are often discussed as a positive phenomenon. A traditional educational system has experienced a transformational change owing to the advent and implementation of technology. Video games are an important part of technologies, which have been integrated into the system. To illustrate, many educational institutions open some courses and labs of Esports, including UNLV. Esports is becoming a very popular culture in recent society, and there are a large number of people who are willing to be engaged into it. League of Legend, which is one of the most popular games among teenagers all around the world, holds some professional competitions annually. The promotion of the competition spirit among teenagers is not the only positive quality of video games. They also have a potential to model real-life situations and encourage children and teenagers to make independent decisions. Though video games are virtual, they have a potential to demonstrate that in real life children and teenagers will have to face some challenges.
It is worth noting that video games equip students with intellectual abilities that they need during learning. Many studies examined the effects of video games on cognitive learning and functioning. Researchers were specifically focused on how action video games evoke different reactions in visual processing and in learning. “A study shows that playing first person point-of-view games affect attention, perception and even cognition. Students who play action games have been found to outperform those who do not play on some tasks, which involve visual attention” (Dye para.1). This conclusion demonstrates that playing video games opens the potential of children’s attentional resources, and they can better distribute them during the game and in consequence transfer this ability to real actions. Children and teenagers, who play first-person point of view games, learn to assume a responsibility for the process and determine priorities.
Video games actively encourage memory formation, which means students can learn more new things in a short period and perform better during their study. “People who have played 3-D video games have better memory test scores than those who have not played. Statistics shows that their memory performances raise 12 percent. Moreover, the young did better, the performances of people who are between 45-70 decrease exponentially” (Dye para. 4-7). The researches made a valuable conclusion that people with hippocampus-dependent cognitive deficit can train their memory by means of 3-D video games. The scholar’s investigation demonstrates that heavy criticism of 3-D games is not properly grounded. They may serve as a tool for practicing memory and attention, because the scenes of such video games should be quickly and correctly remembered. It is an obvious fact that the student’s study process is successful only when he or she has a good memory or at least the level of memory skills, which is appropriate for his or her age.
Video games have been found to teach students strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. Some video games assist in training the brain to make it more agile and improve analytical thinking. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and The University College London performed “a study on 72 female volunteers and measured their cognitive flexibility, which is understood the ability of an individuals to adapt and switch between tasks and think of multiple solutions of a single issue” (Glass et al. 1). Two separate groups of these participants were showed how to play different versions of ‘StarCraft”, a popular game, where they were required to organize armies to fight with enemies. One third of the group played a video game known as “The Sims”, which did not require a lot of memory or analytical skills. The findings revealed that those who played “StarCraft” were faster and more accurate in doing cognitive flexibility tasks than those who played “The Sims”.
This study demonstrates that video games are very different in an aspect of the purposes, which they follow. There are video games, the main purpose of which is to develop strategic and analytical thinking of children and teenagers like in the first option with “StarCraft”. Not all of them will need a skill to organize an army in the future, but this strategic process teaches them general foundations of how to organize processes. The Sims has a more primitive structure and aims, but players may also learn to make decisions in different contextual situations. The most important issue in the aspect of video games is to teach children and teenagers leave the world of games and use the developed skills and abilities in their everyday life.
The discussed trials show that action video games accelerate the process of decision-making. Video games train students’ reaction time in the academic field to solve difficulties in the most operative way. Research shows that people who play video games, develop a skill called ‘probabilistic Inference,’ which refers to how one processes information and what is needed to make a snap decision. Those who play video games are able to absorb information fast and make sound and quick decisions (Bavelier para.1). Playing action video games well requires the sensory information to be processed rapidly. The only way out for the players to be successful is to make quick decisions and demonstrate prompt reactions to what is happening during the game.
Any delay in a response during the game may lead to severe consequences, hence forcing the game player to increase speed. A few studies show that active game players react more promptly to their environmental surroundings and indicate that quicker reaction time can be learned through playing action video games. These games promote causality of decisions, which is often required in different life situations, but people complicate the process of decision-making.
Students’ cognitive and social skills can be boosted by means of playing video games. These games may contribute to improvement of the navigation in space. “Spatial navigation is measured by the ability of a person to visualize and manipulate certain objects and is related to achievements in technology, math and science.” (Spence and Feng 92). Various video games can help students to develop spatial reasoning skills.
The development of these skills is closely related to the formation of mathematical abilities and students’ success in technical sciences. High academic achievements and creativity are correlated with strategic thinking and reasoning, which are developed by children and adolescents when they play video games. Some decisions in gaming process are casual while some require proper argumentation and understanding. A mix of these abilities is applied to the study process and gives students a chance to demonstrate the aspects they are especially interested in and determine the future direction of their professional development.
Communication and interpersonal abilities are also being developed when an individual plays video games. A person definitely wants to win the game and thinks over the best and the most creative solutions. This process of analytical and strategic thinking makes a gamer more inclined towards choosing from a range of communication responses. A player does not limit himself or herself by one possible reaction only. He or she thinks, whether his or her response will be some action or inactivity, a single word or a complete phrase with a meaning. Interpersonal skills will be enhanced as one has to actively listen and reflect before conveying any message while playing a video game. This ability or skill is reflected in a manner, in which a student communicates and interacts with others.
Despite the benefits, which have been brought by video games, there is still a strong argument expressed by psychologists and media resources that games are disruptive and have a negative influence, especially violent games. Some people believe that violent game players display some aggressive behaviors such as preoccupation, loss of self-control and interpersonal conflicts. Cruel games have an ability to develop aggressive behavior. The more time a child or a teenager spends, playing violent video games, the crueler he or she becomes. When a player is rewarded for violent actions, this fact eventually leads to hostile emotions and aggressive thinking.
However, the point of view that violent games contribute to the development of aggression can be opposed by some arguments. An assistant professor of psychology, Dr. Ferguson, who is from TAMIU, has found that there is a direct relationship between playing violent video games and development of aggressive behavior. However, he states that this relationship is revealed in a positive sense. Children and teenagers, who want to become surgeons in the future, should know that playing video games improves visuospatial cognition. To be more specific, the hand-eye coordination of a surgeon can become better after playing violent games. This recommendation can be valuable for practicing surgeons too.
The described positive characteristic of video games is not unique. In addition, a study shows that violent video games can help students perform better at school and also aid those who have social problems to form some interpersonal skills in the real world. Moreover, the feeling of happiness can be fostered by playing video games, and the hormones, which are produced in this period, are very useful for an individual (para.2-10). Thus, violent video games can assist surgeons perform better during the operations. Consequently, the chance of a successful surgery will be increased, which means that more people will be saved. Another positive aspect of video games is that they can help students become ambitious, reach higher academic results and be prepared to live in an adult world, which can often be very aggressive.
To conclude, it is important to note that the discussion about whether video games are useful for children and teenagers or not should be continued. This research proves that video games have many benefits, which include the development of strategic and analytical thinking, communicative and problem-solving skills. The most important comment in this aspect, which should be made, is that educational establishments and parents should share a responsibility for controlling the time which their children spend playing video games. Moreover, educational establishments should decide whether it is worth implementing some useful video games into their curriculum and conduct some trials of how students’ behavior changes after playing these games. Issuing of violent video games should be controlled at the state level. This control should be regarded to the age the teenagers should reach to play such kind of video games.