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The American public talks much about their children playing video games today. Almost in every family a child is growing up who loves video gaming and prefers it to any other entertainment. Jane McGonigal, an experienced video games designer, says that U.S. statistics for playing video games is 183 million people who play at least an hour on a daily basis. In her bestseller Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal cites the following statistical data: an average American teenager spends around 10, 000 hours video gaming by the age of 21.  Interestingly, it is only 24 hours less than young people spend at school, when in middle or high school, given a perfect attendance rate, of course (McGonigal, Reality is Broken).

Sometimes children say video games helped them relax, while they may also complain about headache after finishing the game. It appears that video games bring both entertainment and discomfort to people who play. So, when it comes to the issue of playing video games, can we allow our children to play video games, while also ensuring their health is not affected badly?

Of course, video games should be allowed because of their numerous benefits. Playing games on their computers or laptops, children experience positive effects. Besides providing a source of fun and fresh entertainment, video games facilitate our problem-solving skills; they develop our logical thinking, and, importantly, better the hand-eye coordination ability in children. When playing, children promote the essential capacity of multitasking. Moreover, they learn to focus on small detail. Also, they acquire skills of working as a part of one team and learn to collaborate with other people promptly and productively. Besides, children grow up quick thinkers and quick decision-makers. To illustrate, parents of kids who love video gaming report that video games boost their children’s self-esteem, widen their attention span and help improve their memory (Circle of Moms).  

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It also appears that video games are beneficial for children with special needs. The analysis of parents’ feedback as to how video games influence their differently abled kids reveals that video games are helpful in tackling certain symptoms of particular syndromes as well as psychological conditions (for instance, ADHD or Asberger’s); video games assist in these children’s talent development since they are believed to be a form of art; video games provide a source of knowledge and learning opportunities; they help to enhance kids’ self-esteem; and, lastly, video games serve as a stimulus to the brain activity in kids (Circle of Moms).    

At the same time, video games can be banned when they pose a threat to children’s health. While certain types of games may be allowed and should not be forbidden, those games that are marked as M (which means “mature”, in other words, fit for people who have already turned 17+) or AO (which means “adult only”, on other words, fir for people who are aged 18+) should be banned for the benefit of children’s health.

The matter is these M and AO video games may contain a lot of realistic violence, numerous blood scenes, and even sex. This will expose kids’ psyches to unnecessary tension and age-irrelevant themes. Specifically, two thirds of kids who were surveyed by Funk, Hagan, and Shimming and said that violent games were their favorites, were found to have been subject  to hostile attribution biases. They were found to demonstrate a growing number of arguments with their instructors and were characterized with lower levels of their behavior self-perceptions. To make matters worse, these kids were found to have been involved in aggressive conduct, as well as in an increased number of fights (Bushman & Anderson).

Recent studies on the impact computer games on children’s health have resulted in the following findings. A certain number of computer games are addictive in essence and promote excessive engagement in playing games in kids. Also, it has been found that games may interfere with or restrain the development of certain social skills in children, cause them to turn aside from  studies at school, and, finally, divert kids from participation in those physical activities which help to ensure a healthy lifestyle and prevent obesity (Culture, Media, and Sport Committee 2).

Apart from this, it has been found that video games playing for lengthy time periods led to people starting to smoke (Kasper, Welsh, & Chambliss), gaining excessive weight (Berkey et al), and having worse performance during classes (Anderson & Dill). In addition, some of the health-related problems linked to playing computer games have been found. These are skeletal and muscle disorders, nerve compression, and, occasionally, video-induced seizures.

 Out of the broad range of video games in the U.S. market, few contain excessive violence and sex and few are marked AO or M. Video games with these markings should definitely be banned, while others may be allowed to play. Most children get tired after they have played video-games for some time, so parents should figure out the optimal time for their kids to play, for example, a certain number of hours per week or per day. By doing so, our children will have an opportunity to enjoy their favorite entertainment type while keeping healthy enough and still reserving some time for homework and other activities. After all, children’s psychological heath is one of the greatest assets, which can neither be purchased nor easily restored.

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