Benefits and Risks of Online Gaming
For the past decades, video games have become a very important activity for children and teenagers. Nowadays, it’s very easy for them to get video games from the internet. As a result, they easily become members of the online gaming world, and this may cause them to face many risks.
Traditionally, parents and teachers have been against video games. However, recent studies have shown that online and multiplayer video games may promote children’s cognitive development.
For example, results from a study carried out by the Oberta University of Catalunya showed that playing video games improves certain neural aspects, such as attention and cognitive control, among others.
Online gaming: negative aspects
It’s true that online games are very popular among children. Their main characteristics are that you need internet connection, and that you get the chance to be in touch with other players. In fact, this is the reason why they might become a bit dangerous.
Children should receive a proper education regarding the healthy and responsible use of the internet. If they don’t receive it, they’ll become vulnerable to different risks, such as intimidation and extortion to provide personal information about them. In addition, they might become victims of cyberbullying.
Another possible danger of online gaming is that children can become addicted to them. According to the World Health Organization, gaming has been included as a disorder, because it might lead to addictive behaviors. To avoid this, parents should limit the time their children spend playing online.
How to identify symptoms
If your children spend too much time online gaming or you think this behavior is affecting their social or academic performance, they might suffer from:
Sleep disorders or constant fatigue.
Headaches or strong eye pain.
Poor academic performance.
Anxiety or irritability when they’re not allowed to be in contact with their computer.
What are the benefits of online gaming for children?
On the other hand, even though there are some risks associated with online gaming, there are also many benefits. In fact, there are more advantages than disadvantages regarding online video games.
Daohne Bavelier, cognitive neuroscience teacher, proved that online games can represent a training tool for real life situations. It means that children would be able to adapt to different everyday life situations, such as making decisions and thinking fast.
Even though battle games are associated with violence, they can actually improve memory and concentration. Players must analyze different moves and make decisions, while they continue focusing on the tasks they’re carrying out.
Just as Cristina Castro says, children improve their attention skills, more specifically, their selective and sustained attention. This way, children practice paying attention to one element and avoiding useless external distractions.
In addition, multiplayer online games allow children to interact and communicate with each other, which promotes teamwork and cooperation.
What are the roles of parents in all this?
It’s very important that parents count on all the necessary information regarding the online games their children play. This is because, even though the category and gameplay might seem suitable for them, certain games might present other risks.
For example, certain games are played by a toxic players community, which might not be proper for children.
Finally, it can be counterproductive to forbid children from playing online video games. This is because of the many benefits we’ve mentioned before, and because these games are part of children’s lifestyle. So, to avoid all possible risks, try to identify symptoms and signs, and educate your children to make good use of the online world.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
Australian Government eSafety Commissioner (s.f.). Online Gaming. Recuperado de: https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues/gaming
Bavelier, Daphne & Green, C & Han, Doug & Renshaw, Perry & Merzenich, Michael & Gentile, Douglas. (2011). Brains on video games. Nature reviews. Neuroscience. 12. 763-8. 10.1038/nrn3135.
Castro, C. (2017). Jugar a videojuegos mejora el cerebro. El Independiente. Recuperado de: https://www.elindependiente.com/vida-sana/2017/07/22/jugar-a-videojuegos-mejora-el-cerebro/.