Until some years ago, when children talked about games it meant team games like football, cricket, hockey, basketball, shuttle, tennis and the like. But today games are more or less dominated by computer games in the minds of youngsters.
Again, until some time ago, blue whale was the answer to the question “Which is the biggest animal on earth?” But no longer. Blue Whale is the name of an online computer game played over social networks which encourages youngsters to do certain tasks ending in suicide.
So let me spell out the topic for my speech. It is the Impact of Computer Games on Youth. It is very clear that youngsters interact with video games in much deeper ways physically, emotionally, and mentally than with other popular media like films. You can also read Gaming as Career, Entertainment, and Addiction! for further insight on gaming.
First let me focus on the benefits of computer games.
Many claim that computer games improve co-ordination, attention, concentration and problem-solving skills. It also enhances memory, helps in multitasking capability and can also be used as excellent teaching tools.
There are video games like building a city or helping others. These can help a youngster to be socially responsible and behave with care and concern for others.
Computer games, some people say, help youngsters to get familiar with the online world. It allows them to become smart kids and builds perseverance in them as many computer games have different levels which the gamer has to master.
Quick thinking, fast analysis, intelligent use of resources and management, planning and strategy and situational awareness are some other benefits that people highlight.
Let us assume that all these are good. Let us now look at some of the negatives.
Very young children are also exposed to the world of computer gaming. Sometimes these games can encourage violence and crime. So there should be a supervision of what type of game is played.
Secondly, the amount of time one spends on computer games have to be limited. There are known cases of people spending long hours on games without eating, mingling with friends or studying. This affects health as well as the person’s ability to interact with other people face to face.
Thirdly women are generally portrayed in games as weak and as kind of objects. It is a kind of negative stereotyping. It can wrongly impact the young boys and the way they treat women.
Again, there are studies which show that video games can lead to aggressive behaviour because of constantly playing games which require the gamer to take part in violence.
Another difficulty with video games is that parents rarely spend time with their children trying to find out what games they play. So parents lose a chance of bonding with their children; they lose the chance to spend quality time with their kids and of course they lose the chance to understand what type of behaviour change is occurring in their children because of the video games they play.
Finally, there is the danger of not differentiating between the real world and the fantasy world. Unless the youngsters are taught between the differences in the gaming world and the real world there can come moments of confusion and disappointment.
Let me conclude by saying that we cannot forget the fact video games and gaming have become a multi-billion dollar industry. It might easily be the fastest growing entertainment in the world today.The high quality of graphics giving a greater sense of virtual reality is drawing people more and more into a different world far removed from the real one. And it is impacting youngsters in a big way. Only time will tell of how the life of youth changed with video games dominating their play, study, thinking, and relationships.