Good Example Of Essay On The Impact Of Video Games On Children

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Children, Family, Video, Virtual Reality, Video Games, Game, Skills, Psychology

Pages: 1

Words: 275

Published: 2020/12/22

The controversy surrounding video games and the effects they have on children has been heated ever since Atari introduced its first gaming system in 1977. Since Atari’s introduction of the video game, the industry has developed much more advanced systems and games. A child can now go online and play a video game with a friend who may live five hundred miles away. Graphics within today’s games is very realistic, they resemble a movie more so than a game. The subjects and premises of the games themselves have evolved in many directions. With the Wii system, children can bowl and dance along to their favorite music. Guitar Hero has children playing guitar along with popular music and earning points. Young children can learn to count and read with the use of video games. There is a darker side however. Games such as Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Combat feature relentless violence.
Research on the subject has produced mixed findings. There are studies that demonstrate the detrimental effects on children who play violent video games. Other studies cite that the reason there are so many overweight and obese children is because they are sitting in front of televisions playing games all of the time. Other studies extol the virtues of video games: they increase reasoning and problem solving skills; they help to develop fine motor skills; they help children develop social skills when they play prosocial games. The studies can be confusing for professionals and maddening for parents. Video games can be beneficial for children if it is moderate and balanced. It also requires parental input and supervision.
In order to determine the effects of video games, researchers have clearly defined five specific dimensions of video game play (Gentile et al, 753). The amount of time a child spends playing a video game (Gentile et al, 753). The content of the game is one of the most researched dimensions, especially if the content is violent (Gentile et al, 753). The context in which the game is played, it a game for one person, can it be played online with friends (Gentile et al, 753)? The structure of the game encompasses the graphics and visuals, the 2 dimensional and the 3 dimensional (Gentile et al, 753). Finally the mechanics of the game, the handheld device and its effects on fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination (Gentile et al, 753).
Dai & Fry in their article state both the pros and cons of video game play by children. The negatives include playing too many hours a day and the content of some games. However, there are several benefits to playing (Dai & Fry). Cognitively, video games help kids to learn how to follow directions. In order to progress through the levels of the game, children must learn how to master the skills and the knowledge to achieve the goal that will allow them to move up to the next level of play (Dai & Fry). Each level presents new challenges for the child to figure out. Games teach children to map out possibilities, to test hypothesis, manage resources and recognize patterns (Dai & Fry). Almost all games require players to multitask. As the child moved up through the levels, the multitasking becomes more difficult (Dai & Fry). Video games are also well documented for improving hand-eye coordination, spatial reasoning and fine motor skills (Dai & Fry). These are all skills that are taught in schools. In order to maximize the cognitive aspect of video games, parents need to do some research and seek out games that encourage these skills that are also appropriate in content for their child’s age.
Today’s video games such as Super Smash Bros and Mindcraft are rated for children and allow play with friends through the internet. Social games of this sort, promote socialization and prevents children from isolating (Gentile et al, 752). As the friends play the game together they can talk to each other. In one study that reviewed previous studies for video games and the effect on prosocial behaviors, the researchers found that in short term and long term studies completed with children and adolescents found that video games that allowed for interaction and group play increased prosocial behavior in children when they were not playing (Gentile et al, 752). Prosocial behavior was defined as helping other children (Gentile et al, 752). The content of the games used in the studies that were viewed were rated for children and age appropriate. Violent games were not used. One study that was cited but not used as part of this teams review found that children who engaged in prosocial games that involved violent content demonstrated prosocial behavior with their friends, but increased aggression towards children they did not know well or at all (Gentile et al, 752).
Video games also help to improve children’s motivational drive (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 69). Games are designed to engage children, they are highly seductive. Children are quickly engaged in the game and work hard to achieve the goal or prize that is waiting for them at each level of the game (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 69). Children are challenged every step of the way until they achieve the desired goal. This feeling of accomplishment is very important to a child’s emotional development (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 70). The child was not simply given a prize, he had to work towards it. Often, the prize is not acquired on the first or even second attempt. This does not deter most children. They keep making attempts and each time they do, they improve their skills. Psychologist note that children who exhibit the behaviors of persistence and engagement guided by well thought effort results in children who are successful and achievers (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 70) When children feel successful in one endeavor, they tend to carry that confidence over into other activities (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 70).
There are two types of motivation that children can experience: entity motivational theory or incremental motivational theory. Entity is when the child is praised for “being”. When Grandma says, “You are such a pretty girl!” to her granddaughter she is instilling this type of motivation. Incremental motivation is when a child learns that her effort results in praise. “You did a beautiful job on your picture!” This type of motivation is much more effective and stays with the child for a long time. The child learns that practice and effort will result in praise.
Mellecker, Witherspoon and Watterson examined the use of video games in school to aid in learning. The reviewed literature on the subject and discovered several reason why video games are so successful in helping kids to learn and why they should be used in the educational setting as well. The specifically studied game systems that encouraged physical movement, similar to the Wii (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson, 352). These types of games encourage interactivity, continuous feedback and problem solving (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson, 352). As students move through the lesson, engaging their entire body, they are increasing activity levels and engaging gross motor movement (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson, 352). Movement in learning activities help children to retain information by associating it with the movement (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson, 353). As they proceed through the learning activities (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson, 353). The student is made aware immediately that a mistake was made and they have the opportunity to correct before moving on (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson, 353). With traditional teaching methods, the child does not learn of his mistakes until a couple of days later when he receives his paper back from the teacher and there is a big “D” in red ink at the top. Considering the motivational concept of video games, the positive cognitive aspects and immediate feedback to correct mistakes, video games seem to be a perfect fit in the classroom (353).
In a study completed by Prott, McDonald and Anderson, the researchers compiled a list of positive and negative effect of video games. They also compared violent games with educational games. The positive effects all included the educational games: improved visual-spatial skills; acquisition of academic and learning concepts introduced by the game; increased prosocial skills; and with exergames increased physical activity (Prott, McDonald &Anderson, 648). The con side, listed the negative effect of games (Prott, McDonald &Anderson, 648). All of the reasons were associated with violent games: increase in aggressive feeling, thoughts and/or behavior; play was negatively related to school performance; attention and concentration problems (Prott, McDonald &Anderson, 648). The violent games brought out the worse in children, especially when played over long periods of time. Outcomes and behaviors for children who played Wii and Dance Revolution games was very positive (Prott, McDonald &Anderson, 649). The children experienced better moods and emotional states; increased attention span; excitement and engagement with the games (Prott, McDonald &Anderson, 649). The increased physical activity was also a positive aspect (649).
Ultimately the kinds of games and the amount of time playing games is the responsibility of the parent. Violent games could not make are children more aggressive and malevolent, if they were not purchased for them or allowed to play them. Kids would not spend 4 hours a day in front of a video game if the parent insisted they finish their homework and go outside to play for a while. It is the parent’s discretion to choose what video games their children purchase, it also up to parents to provide their children with learning and engaging games. There dozens of popular games on the market that do not include violence, aggression and other negative attributes seen in so many games.
Most research that support children playing video games recommend limiting the amount of time the child plays for. A timer is an easy way to accomplish this. Agreement with the child as to how many minutes he may play the video game, setting the time and sticking to it is one way to handle it. Purchasing a Wii promotes physical activity as well as fun. Looking for games that are rated “E” for everyone. This are proactive actions parents can take.
Despite the huge amounts or literature and information regarding video games that is negative, it is astonishing that children are still allowed to play them. In the last five years, researchers in fields such as psychology, pediatrics and child development are questioning all the negative publicity and studying the positive effects of video games. There is a growing amount of literature in academic settings that is showing the positive cognitive, social, behavioral and emotional effects of children playing video games. As this research is published, the major media outlets are getting a hold of it and reporting these positive findings. Educational, age appropriate video games that are played for a limited amount of time every day is a good thing for children to engage in.


Dai, D. & Fry, A. “Effect of Video Games on Child Development.” Vanderbilt University.
24 April 2014. Web 2 March 2015. </Kutner_JAR_parent%20FG%201-08.pdf >
Gentile, D., Anderson, C., Yukawa, S., Ihori, N., Saleem, M., Ming, L.K., Shibuya, A., Liau, A.,
Khoo, A., Bushman, B., Huessman, L.R., Sakomoto, A. “The Effects of Prosocial Video
Games on Prosocial Behaviors: International Evidence from Correlational, Longitudinal and
Experimental Studies.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 6. 2009. Web 8 Mar 2015
Granic, I., Lobel, A., Engels, R. “The Benefits of Playing Video Games.”
American Psychologist, January 2014. Web. 2 March 2014.
Mellecker, R., Witherspoon, L., Watterson, T., “Active Learning: Educational Experiences
Enhanced through Technology Driven Active Game Play.” Journal of Educational Research,
106(5): 352-359. 2009.
Prott, S., McDonald, K., Anderson, C.”Video Games: Good, Bad or Other?” Pediatric Clinics of
America 59(3): 647-658. (2013). Web 2 2015

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