There has always been an ongoing debate on how video games can affect a child’s development. I am no psychologist, but I am a gamer. I have read a few articles about how children go on a violent rampage when they are influenced by video games, like how a 10 year old boy massacred his 11 year old friend because they argued in a video game. Let’s not forget about the famous World of Warcraft reaction video where a tween’s account was frozen by his parents and his reaction was like a toddler whose candy got taken away.
But let’s go over some important facts that will shed some light on this argument. Let’s focus on children aged 4 to 7 years old, or what I call the crucial childhood years.
Children at this age need to play. It’s as simple as that. Lawmakers from California argued 4 years ago that children are not getting enough play time outside that it has increased the chances of them developing ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and diminished social skills and capacities. Based on Piaget’s development theory, children at this age learn how to role play or interact. If it is taken away from them, they would lack the cognitive capabilities to interact with another child. This would lead to delayed development in their cognition.
Another possible argument that people can use is the fact that children, or toddlers, are impressionable. If you do this, there’s a chance that they will imitate it simply because they don’t know any better. The logic for this argument couldn’t be as sound as Newton formulating the Theory of Relativity, but let’s just illustrate. What if your 5 year old son got his hands on a Super Mario and he tries to imitate jumping up and down? It’s fun to look at, but God forbid he jumps into an open sewer.
However, some psychologists argue that video games can actually help a child in terms of cognition development. The first argument is that video games are able to help increase hand-eye coordination. Although it’s overkill to expose him to first person shooters, side scrollers like Super Mario can still help your child develop his hand-eye coordination. Problem solving skills are the next focus when it comes to why your child should play video games. Take the game Angry Birds or Cut the Rope. These games involve complex puzzle solving skills that would drive adults crazy yet we see children being able to play on the same level as adults.
Lastly, the skill of multitasking is developed. Multitasking is found in RTS or real time strategy games like Starcraft 2. This is where micro and macro management come in. though this game is too difficult for toddlers; children aged 10 years and above are known to play this game without any guidance. The ability to manage resources is also a skill that’s honed by video games, most especially RTS.
So, should parents let their children play video games? Yes, they should. But they should focus more on the importance of playing outdoors and interaction with other kids their age. It all boils down to moderation. If I become a parent, I would let him or her play video games when he or she has appreciated a good old scraped knee and a few bruises.