Video Games and Their Adverse Effects on Youth

Subject: Entertainment & Media
Pages: 5
Words: 1393
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: College

Introduction

Video games are part of the entertainment industry with a multi-million dollar turnover. The expansion of the business and the rapid growth of the audience have made video games an integral part of popular culture and people’s everyday lives. At present, almost every young person has a computer or smartphone; most parents are concerned about the influence of the electronic device on the adolescent. This is a relatively new type of information impact, which has its specifics. Despite the already existing developments and a keen interest in this topic in the scientific world, the field is characterized by an insufficient amount of empirical research on this issue. There are many biases in this area, and conclusions are often based on unreliable evidence.

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The question of whether video games are safe remains debatable as, for most teens, video games are an enjoyable and often social form of entertainment. The negative consequences of excessive addiction to computer games can be divided into several categories, such as physiological and mental outcomes. It is also important to discuss other opinions related to positive effects. However, there is still a growing concern that wasting time on video games is associated with adverse human development outcomes and can result in an addiction.

Physiological Effects

Almost any video game is associated with prolonged exposure to monitors or screens. According to Turel et al., the average time spent by youth playing video games is about six hours per week due to the increased use of mobile devices (191). When computer games are abused, the muscles in the neck and upper back are affected. A sitting position puts stress on the spine; therefore, sometimes adolescents can experience back pain. The common problems are sleep issues, namely, reduced sleep quality and shortened sleep duration increased caloric intake due to consumption of high-calorie and low nutritional quality food (Turel et al. 192). Furthermore, teenagers can play at night and feel weak in the morning and day after. Young people may be disturbed by insomnia, nightmares associated with nervous tension and obsessive thoughts about the game (Turel et al. 192). Lack of physical exercise leads to poor physical health and potential problems of being overweight.

Obesity

The rising prevalence of obesity is acknowledged as one of the challenges of the 21st century. It is believed that the leading cause of obesity in children and adolescents is the popularity of computer games, correlated with less physical activity and the consumption of unhealthy foods. Obesity and lower sleep quality in children are interconnected (Turel et al. 195). According to Turel et al., a critical risk factor for abdominal adiposity is playing video games before bedtime (195). It is mainly due to various indirect factors; for instance, during video-gaming sessions, youth tend to consume sweet drinks, resulting in childhood obesity (Turel et al. 196). Being overweight in the long term can increase the risk of developing other diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension in adulthood.

Moreover, teens addicted to video games often abuse caffeinated drinks, which activate the mental activity of the body. Energy drinks consumption prevails in adolescents, who are the main target group in this industry (Turel et al. 195). Such beverages interfere with sleep, stimulating higher mental functions, increase efficiency, quickly relieve fatigue, drowsiness and lethargy (Turel et al. 195). Teens can forget to satisfy their need for food or do it much later than necessary for the normal development of the body. Young people can also eat directly in front of the computer while significantly reducing the time allotted for mealtime. Thus, irregular nutrition and poor sleep quality provoke diseases of the body’s gastrointestinal tract and general weakness.

Mental Effects

Changes that occur at the psychological level represent the greatest danger to the adolescent’s psyche and are symptoms of the formation of addictive behavior. The main concern is the linkage between violence in video games and the real world. According to Laczniak et al., an inverse association between playing cruel computer games and prosocial behavior has been observed (70). Emotional contact with others becomes superficial, at a time when the emotions concerning computer heroes and game plots intensify (Turel et al. 196). The virtual world for some youth can be more attractive than real life; consequently, he/she cannot notice the amount of time devoted to entertainment. Many young people who are not satisfied with their living are eager to immerse themselves in virtual situations. Moreover, violent images result in school-based adverse outcomes (Laczniak et al. 77). Therefore, this may lead to increased attention problems and diminished academic performance.

The results of some studies have led to the conclusion about the presence of an increased level of aggression in video game addicts. This behavior is presented in the form of demonstrative disobedience to adults, physical or verbal aggression towards others, and auto-aggression (DeCamp and Ferguson 389). Minors who prefer computer games with aggressive plots constitute the so-called risk group for the formation of aggressive behavior (Prescott et al. 9882). Video games can have a substantial impact on a young person since a teenager not only perceives some content but acts, controlling a game character. Therefore, identification with a character who commits aggressive actions becomes stronger. In addition, in games, aggressive behavior is often reinforced by rewards, contributing to supporting this mode of action (DeCamp and Ferguson 389). Adolescents prone to aggression can choose games where scenes of violence and cruelty prevail. Therefore, computer games might be a causative agent of an aggressive state.

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The level of aggression of adolescents is considered an indicator of the displacement of aggressive personality tendencies; aggression is realized in the virtual world of a video game. According to Prescott et al., after accounting for prior violence, the level of physical aggression increases over time by playing violent video games (9887). The degree of effects varies in terms of cross-cultural differences in Western and Eastern societies (Prescott et al. 9886). However, violent video games are associated with potential physical aggression.

Different Perspective

The extent of adverse outcomes provided by video games has been discussed; the results of various experiments and observations are contradictory. Psychologists claim that people should pay attention to the negative and the positive aspects of this entertainment (DeCamp and Ferguson 397). DeCamp and Ferguson claim that video games provide non-significant effects, while violence in the imaginary world has minimal impact on adolescent violence (396). For instance, familial and social background are the crucial factors in determining the risk of violent behavior instead of video games (DeCamp and Ferguson 397). The aggressive acting depends on whether the youth witnesses actual violence. Thus, provoking behavior appearing after playing video games is related to those adolescents prone to aggression. Accordingly, the complexity of this topic is ignored as the researchers initially set themselves the goal of looking for the negative.

The games’ substance has changed considerably in recent years; they have become much more complex, more realistic and more socially oriented. There is a distinction between entertainment and non-entertainment games, so-called “serious games” (De Freitas 75). The latter has been implemented in educational processes, serving as a practical learning tool. Video games contribute to facilitated knowledge gain. The studies show that it can be prioritized over non-traditional methods as they are enhanced by differentiated approaches (De Freitas 80). The question of how to define the balance between entertainment and knowledge remains actual; however, video games are considered helpful for youth to maintain interest and goals in their educational processes.

Conclusion

To sum up, interest in the topic of the influence of video games on the younger generation has recently attracted broad interest in scientists. This problem is a concern for parents, teachers, medical specialists, psychologists and social workers. In addition to many positive aspects, a computer and smartphone can also be a source of danger to a young person’s mental and physical health. The idea that violent video games promote aggression in the real world is widespread. They can influence adolescents’ aggressiveness; however, the issue is more complex and requires further unbiased study. Concerning the positive side, educational and logical games are useful for the cognitive development of the adolescent; they develop reflecting skills and train memory. Overall, concerning the danger of computer games, it is mainly associated with their excessive use. There are specific time norms for any age, and young people need to adhere to them strictly.

Works Cited

DeCamp, Whitney, and Christopher J. Ferguson. “The impact of degree of exposure to violent video games, family background, and other factors on youth violence.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 46, no. 2, 2017, pp. 388-400.

De Freitas, Sara. “Are games effective learning tools? A review of educational games.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 21, no. 2, 2018, pp. 74-84.

Laczniak, Russell N., et al. “Parental Restrictive Mediation and Children’s Violent Video Game Play: The Effectiveness of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) Rating System.” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 36, no. 1, 2017, pp. 70-78

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Prescott, Anna T., et al. “Metaanalysis of the relationship between violent video game play and physical aggression over time.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 115, no. 40, 2018, pp. 9882-9888.

Turel, Ofir, et al. “A model linking video gaming, sleep quality, sweet drinks consumption and obesity among children and youth.” Clinical Obesity, vol. 7, no. 4, 2017, pp. 191-198.