There are so many video games available today, that it would be almost impossible not to find some that appeal to children of any age. Because technology keeps on improving, the games become more “real” over time, and therefore more appealing to the players. However, there are numerous health risks children can face if they keep playing video games each day.
The single biggest problem is that children end up leading more sedentary lives than ever before. Thirty years ago, there was a single type of activities for children, and that was “outside.” Whether it was riding their bikes, playing sport, running around in parks or sporting grounds and generally having fun outside with friends, everything was taking place outdoors; the option of spending hours sitting in the house and playing computer games was not available.
This meant that the kids got lots of exercise, fresh air and vitamin D, all of them being necessary for good health. Today’s children often lack vitamin D, gain weight and don’t spend time in the open air like their parents used to. The way they communicate is via the so called “social” networks, mobile phones and other non-physical forms of communication. Statistics show that children spend an average of 37 hours per week in front of a screen. This includes video games, TV, mobile phones, computers and other devices. This can affect their sight, leading to a need for glasses at a much younger age.
Studies have shown that video games can cause skeletal, muscular and postural disorders including nerve compression, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, seizures and obesity. The games can also affect behavior. Many of the games are quite violent, and that can cause children to become more violent because they view violence as being “normal.” Children in the 4th to 8th grades actually prefer violent games.
A study conducted with more than 400 3rd-5th graders who played violent games demonstrated that they became more aggressive as they got older, and that the same aggression could carry over to real life events, including episodes of bullying and cyber-bullying.
A rich social life should be a regular part of every child’s life. However, social skills aren’t practiced as often nowadays, because children spend too much time in front of their computers playing video games, and not enough time in face-to-face activities that are designed to improve their social skills. While this may not seem important for their health early in life, it can dramatically affect how they turn out as adults, when they have to work with real people, in real life situations.
Having low social skills can also reduce children’s self-esteem and self-confidence not only when they are young, but also when they grow up and have to interact with other people.
Playing video games isn’t always negative, though; there are some positive benefits as well. Games can be used as learning tools to help improve social skills and to teach them about health-related topics in a fun way, for example. But it’s up to parents to limit the amount of time their children spend playing games, as well as monitor the types of games that are being played.
Children’s health is important. By teaching them to be healthy early in life, we will help them grow up to be healthy, responsible adults that will pass on the same knowledge to their children.