Play Station and XBox games have been known to keep children busy for hours on end. They don’t need to be looked after or seen to, they are preoccupied in the world of adventure, mystery and make believe. They require no further stimulation and entertainment. This means the perfect opportunity for mum to get all the necessary chores done around the house. Or is it?
Children become glued to the screen and get very upset if they are disrupted from this world that relies solely on them for its mere existence. We can hear our children, bellowing from the TV room, “That was cool; I sure showed him who’s boss”. This may be fun and exciting for your child, but what effect does Playstation and other games have on your children? How are the images our children see, affecting how they view the world? How do these games affect our child’s behaviour and development? Read on to find out more.
With technology having advanced so significantly over the past few decades, the images and graphics our children see and become so engrossed in are very true to life. This in turn means that they are becoming desensitised to violence, hatred and overt anger. They believe that watching a man run for his life, hunted down and tortured is cool and exciting. Watching a man scream in agony, as he takes his last breath is considered entertainment. Fighting games such as Mortal Combat, shows images that include large amounts of blood, severed heads and other body parts. This is not content that young teens should be seeing, let alone enjoying.
Research has shown that those children who spend excessive amounts of time in front of the TV, playing computer games from dusk till dawn are more likely to become socially retarded, easily angered and very aggressive towards peers and adults alike. They see nothing wrong with aggression and violence; it has become all they know. All too often, young children are hurt or suffer significant injuries, as a result of acting out fight scenes or action sequences.
The worlds and events in Playstation and other games are generally male dominated; this means that the male characters are the heroes who save the world from aliens, secret societies and other antagonists. If a woman is presented in any of these games, she is usually scantily dressed, viewed as a sexual object and is always her male counterpart’s subordinate. Women generally need to be saved, assisted or used to help get the male characters to proceed to the next stage.
This is what young boys are taking, learning and witnessing on a daily basis. They later go on to believe that this is where women belong in society. They are unable to distinguish the difference between fiction and reality. This is a very worrying factor for all parents, but especially mothers. This portrayal of women becomes a stereotype that needs to be seen to and corrected from a very young age.
The world has become disturbingly obsessed with image and what appearances are considered socially acceptable. Although, more boys than girls have become addicted to games, a growing portion of young girls are still being bombarded with these sexy and beautiful, be it cartoon characters. Their impressionable minds start to believe that they too need to have an unrealistic waist size that is so dangerously unhealthy and near impossible. These young women strive to be like the sexy, perfectly made up cartoon characters, all the while damaging their bodies and minds.
Your child has mastered the art of using the Playstation controls and he no longer manoeuvres his arms up and to the right as he tries to get the car in his game to turn a corner. Once the TV is switched on and the game is inserted, he is lost from all reality and all that exists in the real world. He is unable to comprehend anything that happens around him, he is engrossed in the world unfolding on the box in front of him.
So many children run the risk of becoming addicted to their Playstation and games. This means that they are unable to tear themselves away from the screen for even a moment. Parents become frustrated as they call their children away from the TV umpteen times, and the only response they get is “After this stage” or “I just want to try it one more time”. Children become fixated on the high that comes with completing a stage or finishing the game. They become frustrated when they are killed prematurely and they just need to try it again and again. It becomes their drug; they have to beat the game.
During the school holidays, some children have been known to play games for the entire duration of the break. They have recorded that some children will play for as long as 48 hours non-stop. As entertaining as this may sound to some, what is it doing to the brain and mind?
Body, Mind and Brain Power
With the growing popularity of the gaming industry, it has caused many scientists to investigate how this trendy ‘game time’ can affect the children who play these games on a regular basis. After much research this is what Columbia University Medical Centre found:
- Poor memory
- Aggression and dangerous to themselves
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Hinders language skills
- Decreases their ability to learn
- Unable to communicate and interact properly with other children and adults
- Eye damage from constantly staring at the screen
Things Parents Need To Look Out For
Before buying or renting a new game for your child, you need to make sure that the games are age appropriate; you can get a clear indication by looking at the images at the back of the cover.
Get involved. Play these games with your children so that you can witness first hand as to what they are all about. It is also a good idea to introduce more educational games into your children’s free time.
Set limits on these games, so as to prevent your children from becoming dangerously addicted. Games are a great pass time but they should never be the only pass time. Your children should have a healthy mixture of outdoor activity, homework and proper rest. Never use games as a baby sitter, get involved in your children’s lives. Get to know them and what they are all about. A colourful personality cannot be initiated through a game, but rather through socialising, communication and interaction.
Games are a fun pass time, but like everything in life, everything in moderation. Playstation games have a number of negative qualities that need to be considered when letting young children get involved. The stereotypes that these games create need to be remedied so that your child can become open minded and not derogatory. Violence should be a scary thing for everyone, let’s shield our children from the potential evils of the world.