They often have a bad reputation in our society. They are considered by the media as the “black beasts” responsible for school failures, dropping out of school, social isolation, and even suicide. All games have an impact on young people, which is different depending on the frequency of use, the type of game, and the age of the child. We will look at the different impacts on health in two parts: the negative effects and the positive effects that video games can develop.
The negative effects of video games Excessive time spent gambling is a major concern for parents. However, there is no recommended reference to gaming time. It depends on the child’s age, behavior, and time spent on other activities. The overuse of video games may have some negative impacts. Indicators of abuse include loss of relationships with friends or family, dropping out of school, isolation, vision problems, sleep loss, etc.
Excessive use of video games can lead to eye fatigue and decreased vision. When we are looking at the screen, we are blinking less. This blink covers the eye with a liquid that protects our eyes. This fatigue effect is more pronounced if the room is poorly lit or if the screen is the only source of light.
Sleep-disturbing video games
Unlike television, gamers are very active in video games, which causes hyperstimulation that delays falling asleep. Another factor that disturbs sleep is the blue light emitted by LED5 screens. This blue light stimulates our brain and sends the message that it is not time to sleep at all. Although the screens are not to be banned from a child’s life, we must consider when it is time to use them.
Video game addiction
Young people’s growing interest in video games is worrying parents who fear that their children will become addicted and develop an addiction (just like drugs and alcohol). Video games then become their only activity and become an addiction. A young video game addict only thinks about playing.
The addiction leads the young person to withdraw into himself or herself. He no longer thinks about people or the environment around him and lives only in the virtual world of gambling. Addicts play all day and all night, which can lead to sleep disturbances such as insomnia.
Other negative effects of video games
- They can increase stress, for example, when a stopwatch forces the gambler to be fast, or when the gambler sees his or her gambling situation gradually getting worse (e.g., the life bar is lowered).
- They increase the risk of being angry: irritation and frustration are caused by the difficulty of a game, frustration at not being able to finish the game, or behavior considered unfair by other players (for multiplayer games).
Stereotypes and prejudices in video games
Racial and gender stereotypes In most video games, white and male characters dominate, while non-white characters take on the secondary roles of villains. Video games can influence how young people perceive themselves and others. Most video games are designed by humans for humans. For this reason, some video games, including popular ones such as the Grand Theft Auto series, carry misogynistic content and condone violence against women, allowing and even rewarding behaviors.
Prejudices about video games and gamers
Video games make you violent! Video games make people anti-social! Video games make you fat and stupid! All these prejudices are still present in collective thinking. The culture of the so-called classic game, like a board game, is still well anchored in people’s minds. We have to admit that the following prejudice is still very much alive in our society: it is better seen to be a board game player than a video game player. Why this negative perception against video games and gamers? First of all, there is a generational gap that separates those who play from those who don’t play. It is not negligible that the main aspects against alleged violence in video games come from those who don’t use them.
Next, let’s debunk the idea that video games make gamers less sociable. There are hundreds of games that are played online with people from all over the world, and many of them involve communication with other players on the team. Players don’t just see each other online. They have the opportunity to meet at international conventions and tournaments. And, within families, it is now not uncommon to see parents and children playing action and/or strategy video games together … each behind his or her own screen, but together anyway, like around a board game or a card game.
Let’s end with the most ingrained prejudice, “violent video games make players more aggressive”. Several kinds of research have been done and most of them contradict each other. Currently, there is no confirmed link between game violence and gambling behavior. In any case, video games are not destined to be the scapegoat for every drama. More and more studies are demonstrating the benefits of video games. This is what we will see in the next chapter.