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Computer Games, Effects on Children


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There are probably few adults these days who dont remember the excitement of playing early video games such as Pac Man, Space Invaders and Frogger. The ability to interact with a machine in a game situation was thrilling-and still is. Today, the little yellow dot-eater and the highly pixilated spaceships have evolved into seamlessly animated characters, graphic images of demons, and lifelike humans complete with lifelike weapons and lifelike blood.

There are some benefits to video games. Studies have found that playing video games can improve childrens visual attention skills, their spatial skills, their iconic skills and their computer literacy skills. In addition, the use of educational games, which are almost exclusively sold for the PC, have been shown to help improve academic performance.

However, many more studies have shown relationships between playing video games and unhealthy outcomes, such as isolation and loneliness, obesity, belief in gender stereotypes and increased aggressive behavior. In fact, video games unique interactive capabilities may make them even more likely to influence childrens attitudes, beliefs and behaviors than more traditional forms of media.

Gender (study of thousands of computer game characters)

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Although sexy female characters are created to appeal to males, they can send harmful messages to both male and female players. Just as young girls may interpret highly sexualized characters as symbols of the ideal woman, so too may young boys. These impressions may influence girls feelings about themselves and their place in the world, and they may also influence boys expectations and treatment of females. In both cases, these images can have unhealthy effects on childrens self-esteem, behavior and relationships with others.

One out of every ten female characters (11%) had a very voluptuous body (i.e., very large breasts and a very small waist). Another 7% of female characters had either very thin or extremely disproportionate bodies, meaning that nearly 0% of female characters modeled unhealthy or unrealistic body sizes. In addition, one in three male characters (5%) was extremely muscular.

Over recent years, computer games have attracted much attention in the form of criticisms, studies, opinions, and surveys, etc. There have been questions raised on whether computer games have had negative effects on children, or whether society has overreacted.

Although, it may seem like computer or video games are being viewed only in a negative way, there are critics that backlash against other critics, claiming there are benefits to video game playing. Some people believe that it is better for a child to actively play video games that to passively watch television. Speculation have also been made by some professional who have claimed that, by playing video game, certain children can develop a sense of proficiency which they might not other wise achieve (Cesarone). The benefits to video game playing may include, educational value, taking into account that some computer games are designed to teach children; also value for social interaction and growth. Children can usually find themselves on the same level when it comes to video games. It is considered a leisure activity, which is fun, challenging, exciting

Over recent years, computer games have attracted much attention in the form of criticisms, studies, opinions, and surveys, etc. There have been questions raised on whether computer games have had negative effects on children, or whether society has overreacted. One thing is for sure and that is because of the widespread concern and popularity over computer/video games, the potential effects should be addressed or at least explored.

Video games were first introduced in the 170s, but it wasnt until the 180s that they became very popular. The resurgence of video game sales had triggered renewed interest in examining the effects of video games(Cesarone). It should also be pointed out that many of the sources found, used or came to parallel conclusions with studies on television or the media. In Selnows article, it was reported that heavy users of television were also heavy users of arcade video games

Cultural Effects

People in the United States, after the industrial revolution, started having free time and extra spending money. As a result, they began looking for ways to entertain themselves. In an attempt to curb this appetite, pinball machines were created. But, pinball machines were mechanical and complicated in nature, so there was born a need to produce entertainment products more cheeply. Video games proved to be a excellent alternative they were less complicated, easier to create, and much less expensive to produce. It didnt hurt to much that the entertainment industry began making a lot more money, either. [10]

In the US today, many people crave violence, sex and bad language in entertainment. Just look at the popular movies we produce. Since video games started being catered to the desires of the people, the content of the games became a parental concearn.

In the educational field, people started to see the potential video games had as a learning tool. People are more likley to learn when they dont consider it a burden. Video games are considered fun, so a learner would want to play them. This makes them an ideal atmosphere for learning.

In summary, a need for entertainment sparked the match that lit the fire for the production of video games. Ideas of what society views as entertainment and parental concearns over the content of video games battle it out for control of what types of games are produced. The need for educational tools have also been a more recent factor.

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