Effects of Restricting the Type and Amount of Video Game Use by Children
Popularity of Video Games
Playing video games has become almost as popular as watching television. The vast majority of school children play video games; they are part of the daily routine of 65% of American households. Video games account for 30% of the US toy market and the annual earnings from video games approaches nine billion dollars, which is more than the gross sales from box office tickets for movies. This amount is 10 times the amount spent on production of children’s educational television programming (Walsh, 1999). Despite the popularity of video games, parents and teachers alike question whether or not this activity has any educational value. Moreover, as the quality and realism of video games improve with advances in technology, it is likely that children's interest in video games is going to increase, not decrease. For example, interactive video games, multimedia video games, and virtual reality video games are already on the market. It has been, and will continue to be difficult for parents to keep their children from playing this new generation of video games. The purpose of this review is to explore the issue of whether or not parents should restrict the type of video game their children play and the amount of time their children play video games.
Positive and Negative Aspects
Clearly, there are several negative aspects to playing video games. Parents have little control over the types of games their children choose to play. Perhaps the only meaningful questions we can ask are "should they control the type of video game their child uses, e.g., traditional versus those with “proven therapeutic value?" (Parente, 1997). Should parents restrict the amount of time their children spend playing video games for recreation? Specifically, to what extent does restricting the amount of time a child plays video games affect his or her academic performance? It is reasonable to suggest that if parents play an active role in the child's life and make sure their children know the difference between fantasy and reality, then playing video games can be a positive learning tool. Otherwise, this activity can cause social problems because the child, by devoting much of his or her free time to computer games, will begin to act out their fantasies and violent actions in their everyday lives. Playing video games can also cause social isolation and reduced opportunity to learn social skills (Buchman & Funk 1996).
Should parents restrict children’s access to video games? Several issues make this a difficult question to answer. Clearly, video games are popular activities and children through Young adults will play video games regardless of whether or not they have therapeutic value. Visual media are attractive to children and there is some evidence that a child’s attention span and hand/eye coordination may improve after playing video games (Parente,...