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!