The Effects Of Over Indulgence In Video Games On Kids—And How That Could Change

December 15, 2014

Video games are perhaps the most popular form of entertainment for children, teenagers, and adults alike. What began as a multi-million dollar earning industry is now a billion dollar industry that only has more potential for growth in the coming decades.

With video games being far more accessible than they were in the past, most teenagers in the United States have played a video game. Home console games, portable console games, mobile apps—it doesn't matter what platform is preferred – games are pretty much the hottest form of entertainment out there today.

But, does popularity really compensate for the lack of engagement that video games allow for, socially? You may argue that games are interactive entertainment. Even so, there's a decided lack of engagement in video games that makes people – especially young people - to at least some degree absorb the detrimental effects of spending hours upon hours of technical isolation.

Video games are said to positively affect kids, in that they can potentially improve mental dexterity and computer literacy. However, video games also have decidedly detrimental effects.

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2011), “too much gaming may cause ‘anxiety, poor grades and depression’ in young people.”
  • We may be extreme training kids with one skill at the cost of another - “Video games, although helpful for improving short term concentration, can ultimately damage long term concentration.” (Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2012)
  • Many parents and teachers alike have noticed a rise in ADD/ADHD like behaviors and more frequent diagnoses, and the Journal of Psychology and Popular Media Culture (2012) backs them up, saying, “Video games may bring out attention-deficit and impulsive behaviors in children, making it difficult for them to sustain reaching a goal.”

And, it's not just video games, either: the advent of digital gadgets is notably causing younger children to lose their capability in developing stronger cognitive (thinking) skills, at a young age.

But, even though the isolation, inactivity, and lack of meaningful engagement from these devices do affect children, all's not lost.

Today, various hardware and software manufacturers are researching ways to integrate toys with apps. Think about it: the engaging nature of toys merged with the tech of a robust mobile application has great potential. Toys with apps are being touted as a blend of entertainment and education, that is, a way to entertain and sustain a child’s attention without downgrading the tech.

Interestingly enough, toys with apps are, arguably, still a work in progress. Video games, since their formative years, have involved into a medium that encourages “immersive interaction.” Kids’ toys, which should help prime kids for immersive interaction with the real world, have remained behind in technological development.

But today, many companies want to merge kids’ toys with apps—immersive and smart apps that engage kids, while teaching them valuable skills. Many children now use smartphones, tablets, and, yes, play video games.

So, in order to take advantage of that very true fact, it's important to use those mediums – instead of discard them – to help kids develop stronger cognitive skills, while having fun at the same time, as they stimulate their active imaginations.