Playing Games

By September 27, 2013 6 Comments

This past week Grand Theft Auto 5 was released and reached over $1 billion in sales in just over three days. When I saw this, the first thing I thought was that it was a sad commentary on our society. This week I’ll share my view of video games and discuss problems I see with their popularity; especially violent ones.

Growing up, I played video games. I didn’t play a ton, but we had the original Nintendo, a Game Boy, and then Sega. Once I got to high school I quit playing video games about the time the James Bond 007 game came out. I remember all my friends playing it all the time but it never did anything for me, and I thought it was boring. I didn’t play video games in college and don’t now either. We don’t even own a gaming system in our house. I understand it can be great entertainment for some, and even provide great educational resources. However, most of the popular games contain the killing of people or animals, drug use, criminal behavior, sexual exploitation, and obscene language. What bothers me is that too many kids are growing up playing violent video games and spending way too much time doing so. I think that today’s kids spend too much time playing video games and not enough time outside playing real games.

I’m not saying all video games are bad. I’m not saying playing video games are bad. I am saying that the rate at which our society plays violent video games is bad.

One of the problems I have with video games is that I think it desensitizes our kids to violence. I’m not saying just because a kid plays video games that they’re going to be a violent criminal; that’s just not true. What I am saying is that kids who are continuously exposed to violent forms of media are more likely to act out aggressively and problem solve with violence. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, children who play violent video games are likely “to show more aggressive behavior, become numb to violence, accept violence as a way to solve problems, and imitate the violence they see.”

How often do you see kids outside playing anymore? We were outside playing sports and games all the time growing up. Now it seems like the only kids that are outside playing are elementary age and below. According to www.education.com, kids ages 8-18 play video games on average of 13.2 hours a week. That’s a lot of time. I wish more kids would put down the video games and play outside. It might benefit them and society a little bit.

In researching video games for this post I came across a study on www.parentingscience.com. The article cited a 2010 study that had two focus groups of teenage boys. One group was given a gaming system immediately and the other didn’t receive theirs until after four months. The study showed that the kids who had received the gaming systems right away spent 30% less time reading and 34% less time doing homework. Kids with the systems received lower reading and writing test scores.

I believe video games hinder academic progress and achievement if they are not played in moderation. I hear too many stories of kids playing more than a couple of hours a night and even gaming late in to the night. You can’t tell me that the work and schoolwork of people who stay up late gaming are not affected by it. There are so many other things kids could be doing to improve in all areas of life rather than playing video games.

Playing video games is ok, if it’s done in moderation. However, the fact that a game topped $1 billion in sales in three days tells me that people play video games way too much, way too often. Being an avid gamer is not going to help one get a job or degree, unless you’re a game designer. It will not make one a better student or athlete. It will not help one with the social skills needed in today’s world.

When it comes to playing games, I’d rather play in real life.

I know many may disagree with me on this judging by the popularity of video games in our society, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Do you agree that the popularity of games, especially violent ones, are alarming?

Parents, do you monitor and moderate the games your children play?

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!


Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • SLVB32 says:

    My son loves to play XBox so I know what you mean. If we allowed him to play as much as he wants, it would crowd out most other activities and schoolwork. Therefore, our policy is no XBox (or TV for that matter) from Monday morning until Friday evening. Between schoolwork, baseball and soon basketball, there is no time for screens anyway.
    As for the effects of the violent games on the kids, who knows? Have you listened to the music that kids are attracted to? Turned on the news lately? If anything, video games are only one component of the violence around us.

  • kelmendorf says:

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, I appreciate it. I think that is a great policy you have in place with your son. You should be commended for it, not all parents are as disciplined as you are. I 100% agree that video games are just a part of the problem. Mass media (music, tv, movies, news) play a large role. Society needs more parents like you who set boundaries and monitor what their kids play, listen to, and watch. What are some other factors you believe contribute to our society’s problem with violence?
    Have a great weeekend!

  • Gloria Schneider says:

    Love your blogs and usually agree. As far as video games, I don’t have much of an opinion.

    Personally, video games have never been my thing, and I’ve never understood the fascination with them. Maybe they give people a chance to relieve their stress, help the lonely feel like they are interacting with someone, take them to another place to escape what may be going on in their current lives, or maybe, like an athlete, they just like a good challenge.

    I prefer sports, but a gamer prefers his/her games. It doesn’t make either of us right or wrong. Like they say “Different strokes for different folks.” 🙂

  • kelmendorf says:

    Great point. Thanks for sharing and reading! I appreciate it!

  • I agree 100% with you, Kyle. I read a KidsHealth article last week about the value of creative play. Evidently it helps children explore “creative problem solving.” The experts recommend “old fashioned” toys like dolls, books, molding clay — and limited time behind a television or other electronic device. My kids grew up in a house filled with books, arts and crafts, and spent a lot of time outside playing on the swing set. While we had the original Nintendo, life was balanced. I’d like to think that’s one of the reasons all three of them have graduated from college and are independant thinkers who still prefer an active lifestyle to one of playing video games.

  • kelmendorf says:

    That’s great to hear Debbie! Sounds like you did a great job in raising your children. I definitely agree that there’s something to creative play and think that we have an obesity problem with our younger generations due to inactive lifestyles. Thank you reading and taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it!

    Have a great weekend!