A topic that is of uncertainty and may be a source of conflict between digital natives and digital immigrants nowadays is gaming. This is an issue that worries most parents especially now as summer is nearing and kids will be out of school, with more time in their hands. Therefore, I’d like to explore some of the myths surrounding this idea and explain some things which may not be as clear for some parents.
Myth 1: Kids get easily addicted to video games, which becomes a mental disorder.
Up to 90 percent of American youngsters play video games and as many as 15 percent of them – more than 5 million kids – may be addicted, according to data cited in the AMA council’s report. In fact, it got so serious that the American Medical Association was preparing to recognize ‘Internet/video game addiction’ as a ‘formal diagnostic disorder’ in the 2007 annual meeting. However after much debate, the AMA changed its mind and decided that they would not place the “video game addiction” in the same category of serious mental disorders as schizophrenia or depression.
The reason for this change of mind is that people can be addicted to anything such as work, novel reading or sports. Addiction is not necessarily equivalent to disease. The key to solve this issue is to find a transfer mechanism or alternative for kids to divert their attention. One way to help is for parents to give more accompaniment and attention to their children especially before the age of 16.
Myth 2: Game-playing kids are dumb.
No, on the contrary playing games can train people’s logic deduction and problem solving abilities, abstract thinking and imagination. ( http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb07/yourbrain.aspx ) To paraphrase what Steven Johnson, a cultural critic, once said, the reason why people label game players as dumb could be because they think that game-playing is a simple task, which it is not. Having to play or compete with 25 people while having 10 windows open and having to make quick decisions at the same time is not easy.
Another reason why some parents are against their kids playing games could be the fact that it can affect and decrease kids’ school performance dramatically. However, a social studies professor once said that academic achievement should not be in conflict with computer/internet skills. Nowadays, people need to equip themselves in both aspects as they trigger different parts of our brain. Studying is more static, continuous, and trains critical thinking while internet skills are more dynamic and complex.
Myth 3: Violent video games contribute to youth violence.
The 3rd myth assumes that kids that play violent games will become violent in real life because they can’t differentiate the virtual world from reality. An article titled “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked” written by Henry Jenkins, an MIT professor, pointed out that it is not true. He said the overwhelming majority of kids who play in fact do not commit antisocial acts. According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings are centered on mental stability and the quality of family life and not media exposure. The moral panic over violent video games is undoubtedly quite evident. It has led adult authorities to be more suspicious and hostile towards many kids who already feel cut off from the system. It also misdirects the attention away from eliminating the actual causes of youth violence and allows the problems to continue to fester. A long-time gamer and now a university professor, found that playing games actually can train one to tell right from wrong, to have better communication during team work, and to have a higher AQ (adversity quotient).
So now that I have explained and debunked some of the myths out there about gaming, I strongly suggest parents to go into their kids’ gaming world, to understand and to play with them and to share some positive views. Parents can take these opportunities to help their kids to learn life lessons like how to effectively manage one’s time or how to be self-disciplined through game playing.