It is no doubt that the influence of electronic games will continue to grow and with that parents need to understand just why your kids seem to be addicted to games.
WORDS DR NICOLA DAVIES
Children spend a significant amount of time playing video games online. Consequently, not only do parents need to know what kind of games their child is playing but also the possible benefits and pitfalls of playing video games. Unless parents are familiar with gaming, they cannot guide their children on what and how to play. Furthermore, learning how to play video games enables parents to play with their children, which increases the ways they can bond with them.
Modes and Types of Video Games
Video games can be played on consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, on a computer, as mobile apps, and online. Online games allow children to interact with players across the world.
There are several varieties of video games. These include action games (involving in-game shooting or fighting), adventure games (interactive mystery or puzzle-solving), casual games which do not require much direction, and role-playing (where the player becomes a character in a story).
Why are Children Attracted to Video Games?
One of the main elements that attract children to video games is the instant gratification. Most games are designed to work around a reward system. Children enjoy rewards because the positive reinforcement makes them feel good about themselves and their abilities. Games reinforce these positive feelings in the child by flashing messages across the screen like, ‘Well done!’ or promoting them to a new level. This provides children with an addictive feeling of satisfaction.
Another reason why children love playing video games is because they are fun. Children like the challenge that these games provide and tend to experience them as relaxing and as an opportunity to create their own world, to learn, explore, and master how to win. This can be explained by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of ‘the flow,’ which describes that children like ‘the feeling of being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.’ While engrossed in gaming, they do not notice time passing by and automatically move from one action to another.
Children also escape from boredom by engaging in gaming. They find connectedness in teamwork. Children who struggle to make friends in real life often report that gaming is a resource to get to know other people and make friends in a safe and non-threatening environment.
Children like video games because of the fantasy life they get to live. It allows them
an escape from boredom and from their everyday lives. It further
provides them with entertainment and has the
capacity to stimulate their imaginations.
Games provide children with a sense of accomplishment. When they pass a level, it makes them feel good. Competing with a partner may even increase their self-esteem.
A reason which is often criticised by parents and society alike is that children can take out their anger in violent video games. Children who bottle up their anger find an outlet in this manner to release their frustrations in a safe environment.