Videogames and their Behavioral Effects
Tommy scuffles through the front door, drops his book bag on the floor and plops down on the couch with a scowl across his face. As his PlayStation fires to life, he replays scenes from the day in his head of being shoved into the lockers by Billy, unable to form the words to impress Sussie, and sitting alone at lunch listening to the popular kids laugh and joke, ignoring him as if he did not exist. No one understands him. No one cares about him, because he is not strong, charming, or popular. All that is soon avoided as Tommy dives into a world where he controls everything and everyone either fears or loves him. If he fails, all he must do is reset. Here he can be anything he wants, and he can do and have it all.
Many kids like Tommy, who spend most of their childhood and adolescences emerged in imaginary lands rather than dealing with the real world at hand, become socially anxious and have low self-esteem later in life. Instead of thriving with a career and family, they relapse back to the same virtual interaction they had as a child. They float through life barely able to support themselves or result to living with their parents. Adulthood seems to them a mere task they must complete in order to continue their gaming. Excessive videogame play for children and adolescents cause social anxiety, depression, and aggression because more time is spent alone engrossed in dynamic storylines and complex situations than outside building face-to-face relationships and other healthy social skills that better prepare them for their future.
Aggression, being the most commonly argued negative effect to videogames, can be brought on by the solitary aspect of the activity while the child faces an obstacle or problem that he or she does not know how to properly address (Boyce 34). Children and teens that play violent videogames are more prone to confrontation and often engage in fights either physically or verbally when placed in a stressful situation (Fritz 1). Conflicts often result with individuals around the child that restrain him from gaming (Lemmens 79). In addition, a decrease in empathy is a result of violence encouraged by videogames being played by kids for long periods of time (Boyce 33). Constant exposure to violence can desensitize a child because to him the violence becomes normal and acceptable. Depression is less studied and often sprouts from social anxiety. Lemmens explains this type of depression resulted from excessive videogame play by stating that “[h]eavy gamers generally show decreased psychological well-being and lower satisfaction with daily life” (80). Playing videogames for hours on end isolates children from natural social engagement causing individuals to become socially anxious (Boyce 33). Higher amounts of gaming often lead to social incompetence due to the decrease in interaction that builds these important life skills (Lemmens 81). In videogames, children are given specific objective to...