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Computer Games Effects On Children

Mood changer #6: Television and videos 

Television changes mood. Anyone who has ever flopped down in front of a television set and zonked out knows this.

Children in the later primary and early secondary years often have phenomenal amounts of screen time. Twenty-two percent watch television for more than three hours a day, and 14 percent also spend more than three hours playing computer games.

Computer Games Effects On Children

Television models impulsive acting-out behaviors to children. Those of us old enough to remember The Dobie Gillis Show will recall that Dobie was often depicted in the still pose of Rodin's The Thinker. Incorporating a similarly inactive character in a television show today would be unthinkable.

However, a study of over 1,000,000 students in Israel found the relationship between TV viewing and educational attainment to be complex. A small amount of TV (up to 1.4 hours per day, or 10 hours per week) is positively associated with academic achievement; beyond that, it is negative, especially for students aged between 10 and 17 years.

The ideal amount of television differs according to how old your child is. There is increasing research showing that television viewing of any extended duration impairs the concentration of children under two. A nine-year-old can watch up to two hours a day, a 13-year-old one-and-a-half hours, and for 17-year-olds, the ideal amount of television viewing drops to just half an hour each day.

Mood changer #7: Computer games 

Anyone who has ever watched an irritable, unfocused, unmotivated bright kid switch on a computer game and become focused, alert, and goal-oriented knows that these games have an incredible power to change moods.

I describe today's kids as the "Click and Go" generation - the Baby Boomlets who were born with a mouse in their hand and who have grown up with the expectation of immediate gratification, instant outcome, and continual entertainment. One of the factors influencing their lives has been video and computer games. There are both positive and negative effects of.these games. On the positive side, they build hand-eye coordination and develop problem-solving skills. They can also be a form of social connection.
Boys particularly use video  in how
games in a social way by organizing LANs (local area networks) or simply by watching and discussing strategies. In many cases, boys read books full of "cheats" that guide them to succeed at the game. The use of video and computer games is not completely passive.
These games also give a sense of great mastery, challenge, and involvement. Children can become adventurous heroes winning battles, building cities, and conquering challenges all in the safety of their homes. Video games are popular, and link into three of the most desired states of childhood:

  1. the ability to have adult-like adventures with minimal adult involvement,
  2. the ability to test yourself, and
  3. the sense of being in a club of other young people who collect these games. 
But the excessive playing of these games can be negative. They can be so compelling, they become addictive. I have seen some kids in therapy for whom the withdrawal of the computer resulted in a grief reaction comparable to the loss of a family member!

Also, the skills learned on these games do not appear to readily transfer into other arenas of life. Computer games are so successful at setting challenges and providing rewards that they seem to interfere with young people's ability to do this themselves. Very few of the games require creative problem solving or provide an opportunity to be an active participant in determining a story line.

The illusion can be quite strong. A 10-year-old boy I saw in counseling, when asked what sport he played, answered "Quidditch!" When I asked him how he played this sport, he looked at me pityingly and said, "On the computer, of course." To find out more, you can check out Computer Games Effects On Children.