It’s hard to imagine a world without video games. Since the very first online game was released — believed to be ‘Multi-User Dungeon 1’ in 1978 — developers have been looking for innovative and engaging ways to keep gamers glued to their screens.And they have succeeded. By some estimates, the worldwide gaming industry is expected to reach a total value of over $33 million AUD in 2021. Online gaming is enjoyed by people of all ages, all across the globe — including children. Question arises Should I Let My Child Play Online Video Games?
For kids, gaming is both an entertaining and social hobby. Particularly during Covid-19 lockdowns, online gaming was a great way for kids to keep in touch when they were prevented from going to school and meeting up in the real world.
However, as with all online activities, there are pros and cons to letting your children become involved with the virtual gaming world. Part of promoting cyber safety for kids is being aware of both the positives and negatives to online gaming — read on to find out more.
Online gaming — pros
Some people hold a misconception that there are no positives to children spending time playing video games online. In reality, there are certain benefits of being an online gamer, including:
- Teaches teamwork
Online gaming nowadays often involves large multiplayer games that require individuals to work as a team in order to defeat a common enemy. These types of games encourage players to assist each other, use their strengths, and communicate effectively to reach an end goal — all skills that are invaluable in the real world.
- Encourages decision making and inspires problem solving
Online gaming involves making split-second decisions that can change the course of the whole game. Being immersed in these kinds of interactive games helps develop decision making skills, particularly in times of stress and anxiety. Games teach the importance of remaining calm and organised when things are not going the way you planned.
- Improves cognitive functioning
Online games can stimulate brain functioning, helping to create new neural pathways. Playing games can also lead to improved memory capability and attention to detail
- Develops hand-eye coordination
Successful gamers have excellent hand-eye coordination, which is often developed at a young age. Improved reflexes and coordination skills can be applied to many situations in the real world, including sports.
Online gaming — cons
It’s not all good news, however. There are definite downsides to spending too much time in the world of virtual games, including:
- Significant health issues
Long periods of time spent sedentary and lack of outdoor activities can have severe health repercussions. It is especially important that children are taught the importance of maintaining a good balance between screen time and time spent playing outside with friends, to set up a good long-term relationship with physical activity.
- Poor academic performance
Spending too much time immersed in video games can affect academic performance. Young children often become addicted to games and forget about their other responsibilities, such as homework. It’s important that parents set boundaries on the amount of time children are allowed to spend in front of the screen.
- Social withdrawal
Despite the existence of multiplayer games, many young people still use online gaming as a way to escape from the real world. Spending too much time online can leave them out of touch with friends and family, limiting their social development and resulting in poor mental health.
- Violent behaviour
Heavy-duty games often seem to have violent repercussions. While most kids can tell the difference between their game and the real world, too much time spent in battle can lead to an increase in violent behaviour, particularly if children don’t understand how else to deal with their problems.
Too much time spent doing any one thing is rarely healthy — whether that be going to the gym or playing online games. As parents, it is your responsibility to ensure that your children are maintaining a fair balance between the real and digital worlds. And remember, there are all sorts of threats out there in the online world. The best way to protect your kids against them is by monitoring their activity and investing in antivirus for gamers.