The effect of video games on the health of young people

New Communication Technology – Online Essay

Does the extensive use of computer/video games have an adverse impact on the health of young people. What are the most recent papers? Clarify what all sides of the argument claim and only then offer your reasoned opinion based on facts.

The impact of video games on young people’s health has been a popular topic of discussion since the rise of video games in the 1980s. A substantial amount of attention is generated about the negative effects that playing video games can have. However, there have also been significant proven positive effects.  This essay will examine both the positive and negative effects that video games can have on teenagers. Negative effects of video games are caused by addiction and reactions to violent video games. A combination of research suggests that there is a strong relationship between violence in the media and real-world aggression. Whereas, games designed to train and educate provide users with ongoing positive effects. Medical video games have helped patients rehabilitate themselves as well as motivated them towards goal achievement.

To understand how video games can have an adverse impact on the health of young people it is important to define several key concepts. Computer game addiction can be defined as excessive or compulsive use of video games where the individuals’ daily life is interfered with (Weinstein 2010, p.268). Users isolate themselves from society and disengage from various forms of social contact, seeking satisfaction and reward from the challenges presented in their faux-reality. This must not be confused with the amount of time that the gamer spends playing games, and rather on how this gaming affects other areas of their life. Video games also have a strong link to the negative effects that violent television and movies produce. Both these mediums regularly depict violence and aggression and causal and correlational links with real behaviour have been discovered. Aggression is the behaviour which is intended to harm another individual who is trying to avoid such harm. Extreme acts of aggression such as physical assault and murder are referred to as acts of violence. These types of games are the most promoted and consumed video games, however there are educational, sports, and strategic games on the market. A combination of experimental, cross-sectional correlational, longitudinal and empirical research suggests that there is a strong relationship between media violence and real-world aggression. This can be seen in various crime sprees over the last 3 decades such as the Columbine High School massacre (1999) and the Virginia Tech massacre (2007). Anderson (2004, p.114) states that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, feelings, behaviours, arousal and decreased helping behaviours. This creates an embrace and dependence on the distortion of reality that these games create. The relationship between virtual self and real self provides satisfactions and social relationships which may be hard to cultivate in real life.

There are also numerous physical effects that arise from video game addiction. Most frequently, these include described cases of “Pacman’s Elbow” or “Space Invaders Revenge (Weinstein 2010, p.268) where gamers suffer skin, joint and muscle problems from repetitive strain. It is also prudent to consider the effects that addictions to videos game can cause. This addiction can be attributed to a compensation for deficiencies in ordinary life. In a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American children spend over six hours per day watching and playing video games and television but do not meet the recommended level of one hour of physical play per day. This has led to concerns that video game addiction is becoming a leading cause of childhood obesity and self-image problems.

On the other hand, the development of video games to improve health care and education services has seen numerous positive effects on patients. Basic computer games have been created to focus on education and training rather than entertainment. These have targeted both the improvement of patients’ health as well as educating doctors and medical students on certain skills. Particular video games skills are being focussed on as there is evidence that avid players have shown enhanced visual spatial performance, hand-eye coordination and fine motor control, all of which are critical skills required for successful surgical procedures.  When looking at the positive effects on patients, gamers often engage in these types of video games to experience a distractional and motivational effect. This allows gamers, especially children, to experience catharsis; the release of tension and fears in a safe environment (Kato 2010, p.113). Other positive effects of playing this style of video game include the motivation of patients to participate in physical activity through an innovative interface. More specifically, joystick control and movement has helped therapeutically for arm injuries, while racing style games have been used as physical therapy for patients in wheelchairs or suffering spinal cord injuries.  Results showed that patients were able to reach fitness and mobility goals and approached medical treatments with happier attitudes. This style of game, referred to as an “exergame” encourages interactive physical activity and combines challenging quests with exercise. This style of game was found to be more appealing and motivational to gamers who considered themselves “sedentary” and did not enjoy typical forms of exercise.  Medical video games can also provide a method of pain management where alternate realities are created in which the patient does not experience their physical symptoms. These tailor-made games were targeted towards sufferers of burns, asthma, cancer and breast health issues. To find out more about how video games are being used in medicine, click here.

Positive effects can also be seen in educational video games. Students benefitted from innovative and interactive teaching methods. In particular, children and adolescents can be taught reading skills, mathematical skills and creative skills by playing educational games. This style of game is also beneficial to businesses that use educational video games to engage employees and develop work-specific job skills. For example, the US military uses video games to simulate and train combat skills while attempting to increase recruitment.

In conclusion, adverse impacts on the lives of youths is primarily due to the effect that violent video games and media has on youths but not the entire genre of video games. While the reputation of video games remains negative due to the popularity of violent games, there are alternatives which aim to improve critical functional skills such as hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial awareness. Gamers can only be assessed by the type of game they are playing and not by a generalisation of the type of media. This article is a good summary of some of the most prominent positive and negative effects of video games.

 

References:

Weinstein, AM 2010, ‘Computer and video game addiction—a comparison between game users and non-game users’, The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, vol. 36, pp.268-276, DOI: 10.3109/00952990.2010.491879

Anderson, CA & Bushman, BJ 2001, ‘Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature’, Psychological Science, vol. 12, p.353, DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00366

Anderson, CA 2004, ‘An update on the effects of playing violent video games’, Journal of Adolescence, vol. 27, pp. 113-122, DOI: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.10.009

Kato, PM 2010, ‘Video games in health care: closing the gap’, Review of General Psychology, vol. 14, no. 2, pp.113-121, DOI 10.1037/a0019441

Anderson CA, et al. 2012, ‘Video games: good, bad or other?’, Pediatrics Clinics of North America, vol. 59, no. 3

Essay Topic Discussion (Week 7)

This post is a brief discussion about the two essay topics I’m debating between. The two topics are:

Does the extensive use of computer/video games have an adverse impact on the health of young people. What are the most recent papers? Clarify what all sides of the argument claim and only then offer your reasoned opinion based on facts.

Choose a cyberpunk story or movie. Compare the economic and social world it conjures with the real world today. How close is this imagined world to our world and are we moving towards the imagined world or away from it?

The first topic is interesting in a scientific and medical way. There are many studies, both medical and psychological, into the effects that video games have on developing brains and the affect it has in the long term for adults. So the depth of previous knowledge and research into this topic is extensive. And to this point, there are many opinions that both support and reject the effects of video games.

The second topic offers what I see as an easier approach to the assignment. Comparing a cyberpunk movie to real life is easy. Prediction where we are heading as a society is also somewhat simple. The problem with this topic is that there may be no conclusive research and statistics and revolves around theories and opinions.

Therefore, I have chosen to investigate the effects that video games have and do have on the health of young people in particular. This topic allows me to explore the question from several angles. The vagueness of the term “young” people allows me to discuss early brain and skills development 0-4 years as well as the effects on social skills for teenagers. Defining what young means is like knowing the length of the proverbial piece of string. To this extent I will discuss the pros and cons of video games on their uses at various ages of their life.

I will also be investigating the effects of ongoing use of video games rather than sporadic phases in a young person’s life. Can video games be used to educate people? Can they be used to improve certain skills? What are video games being used for in the fields of science, medicine and research? This allows me to compare sources both aged and recent on the various studies relating to video game use.

Finally, I will be discussing the concept of using video games as simulators for training and education. Can video games in the form of a simulator help to prepare the user for success in their chosen field? What have video games previously been used for in this way?

As this post is being written I have not conducted any research into the point addressed above. However, I have outlined a plan for the structure of the assignment (which I just explained).

Looking forward to finding some interesting and provocative arguments!!

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll. (Week 7)

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll. – SHIGERU MIYAMOTO

Video games are a popular social medium in developed civilisations today. They are laced with exceptionally real characters, incredible graphics and plots which we can only dream of. Video games, like many other popular forms of entertainment, provide a way to escape from reality and become someone else; whether it be a gangster shooting hookers in Grand Theft Auto or an Alien hunter in Halo. The possibilities for video games are endless and are even becoming an important tool for educational purposes. My first video game…

However, narrowing down a favourite game is hard as I have been through various stages of my life in which I was obsessed with certain games. Pokemon, SSX,  Tamagotchi, Ray, Nintendogs, MarioKart, Frogger, Diner Dash, Feeding Frenzy, Star Surprise, Penguin Skate, NeoPets, The Crimson Room, various Barbie games, Guitar Hero and Lego World all featured up there for a while. I suppose you could same my favourite and most puzzling is “The Crimson Room.” The computer game is a strategy based game where you must find your way out of rooms by discovering clues and tools that will aid your escape. It’s difficult and requires the player to think creatively. I feel like rather than a “meaningless” game where you just kill or collect things or finish a quest, you are exercising strategic planning.

In the past, I could definitely have called my self a “gamer.” Someone who spends considerable time playing games for their own benefit or profit. I was obsessed and determined to finish every game. And would even play the games over and over again to achieve different and better results. This was satisfying in my success, but also very frustrating when I finished every game and had nothing left to achieve. The allure of each game was the impossibility and the challenge of the tasks. I keep calling it an “obsession” because I spent so much time playing these games. I was addicted. Every spare moment would be spent traversing the imaginative world’s that these games created for me. I would print out tips and cheats and discuss my progress with my friends. It was highly competitive and a phenomenon. Although I may have grown-out of this addiction and moved on to more engaging enterprises, my brother is still chained firmly in the realm of his video game obsession. Our family tries to understand how he can sit for hours on end completely enthralled by the screen without getting bored or restless. It is as if he shuts down and goes into his own world where real life has no meaning and time is irrelevant. But it is not just the game that attracts him. While it may be exciting to win the games and achieve the tasks, it’s the social element as well. My brother communicates with his friends and uses it in a similar way that I use instant messaging and phone communication. With the advanced platforms and capabilities of video games today, gamers are able to chat and type as if they would if they were to make a phone/video call. And they can do all this, amidst the action of the game.

At this stage of addiction, video games can have adverse affects on its users. Increased participation in online gaming realities diminishes users’ social skills and face-to-face communication skills. Most video games also require a motionless component- that is they use a controller whilst staying still to operate their on-screen character. This discourages children from partaking in physical exercise that will improve their health and wellbeing. However, there are some game consoles, like Wii, which are designed to encourage and include physical movements whilst playing.

I don’t think there is a definitive answer to whether video games are either good or bad. It really depends on the extent of the person’s invested time and the actual content of the game. For my essay I will be researching and exploring both sides of the argument about the benefits and adverse effects of video games.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Politics and The Internet (Week 6)

This week’s first task was to test our own political involvement by taking part in several sub-tasks on the internet. The first of these was to sign an e-petition. I chose one that I feel very strongly about and which I have quite an informed opinion. I have numerous gay and lesbian friends, who I believe are as normal as anyone else and should not be discriminated against in any way due to their sexual preferences. Some of my best friends are homosexual and it breaks my heart to see their possibilities limited and their quality of life lessened by outdated laws and policies and ignorant human beings. The e-petition I signed was in defence of Civil Unions and can be found on page two of the Current e-Petitions page on the Queensland Parliament website.

The second task was to respond to a professional blogger at a major news site. I contacted the ABC’s chief political news correspondent Simon Culler regarding his article Bowen signs Nauru processing agreement. The article outlines the Labor Party’s dramatic shift towards asylum seekers. “From now on, anyone arriving in Australia by boat will get “no advantage” over other asylum seekers means those sent to Nauru can expect a long wait” (Scott Morrison in Culler 2012). The policy marks a firm stance against asylum seekers who traverse dangerous seas to get to Australia. I sent Mr Culler a brief comment stating the following:

“Dear Mr Culler,

I am writing in regards to your article on the ABC news website ‘Bowen signs Nauru processing agreement.’ As a young Australian who is only recently exercising her political rights and cultivating an interest in the acts of the Government, I believe political reporting such as yours is a powerful education tool. Political articles such as this one make understanding the political state of affairs much simpler. 

Furthermore, although it may not be of any concern or interest to you, I want to express my support of the current asylum seeker policies and Nauru processing agreements. As Scott Morrison said, “no advantage” should be given to those arriving by boat. Each claim by either refugees or asylum seekers should be assessed appropriately and not rushed, and these ‘international guests’ need to understand that for Australia to uphold its integrity and reputation as a welcoming country, delays may be incurred. If these people are so desperate to seek asylum on our shores, they should show respect and gratitude that they are being given a place to live, even if it is in a detention centre. I want to clarify that I am not opposed to those seeking asylum; many Australians who have come from overseas are a credit to the diversity of the Australian culture. 

Please continue to write engaging and informative news articles about pertinent world political affairs, and spread the praise you have received for doing so.

Kind Regards,

Miss A Woodman”

The third task was to investigate what Barack Obama is “up to today” and send him a message about the importance of freedom on the internet. I am opposed to participating in this task as I believe that Barack Obama’s intentions with regards to internet freedoms are of minimal concern to the Australian public and my close networks; that is, his immediate choices and policies with regards to this issue do not concern me. However, I do understand that due to the close relationship that Australia and the USA share, his policies will undoubtedly influence the Australian laws. The specific question of the task was whether or not you can communicate directly with Barack Obama. The White House provides a comprehensive Contact Us website which includes a submission form for questions and comments, an online forum, an address for written letters and a number to call.

Fourth on the list was to find out when the NBN (National Broadband Network) would be coming to your area of residence (Australia only) and its benefits. The image below shows that no work has commenced in my area to implement the NBN. However, work has commenced 10 minutes away at the brown “C” marker. To find out whether the NBN is coming to a place near you soon type your postcode into the Rollout Map.

So what exactly is the NBN? It is a new broadband network designed for Australia’s future needs which show that online experience is becoming richer and more rewarding but more data intensive. “Radio broadcasters took 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million. Television took 13 years. The internet took just four.” It will comprise of three technologies – optic fibre, fixed wireless and next-generation satellites to provide widespread reliable and high-speed broadband which is accessible by all Australians. The reform will introduce uniform national wholesale pricing ensuring that every community has access to high-speed broadband at competitive prices. This results in a fairer infrastructure and better services for recreational and business use. The new reform will bring Australia up to speed with some of the world’s most advanced countries. Currently, Australia’s dependence on ageing copper telecommunications networks mean that our broadband performance lags in comparison. The rollout represents a leap in the not only the speed, but quality of broadband access and improve and meet the steps in the comprehensive plan to prepare Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure for the future. The NBN will also modify the way healthcare and education are delivered to regional and remote areas; allowing people to access more information and services online. All these changes will ensure that high-speed broadband will promote efficiency, productivity and new opportunities for businesses, improving logistics and creating new working environments and methods.

For more comprehensive information please visit the NBN Website and this Opportunities Fact Sheet.

NB:// All information was taken from the following reference: Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy 2012, NBN – National Broadband Network, viewed 2 September 2012, <http://www.nbn.gov.au/ >