Computer games and other sedentary activities like watching TV have been linked to childhood obesity. Nicolas Settler, MD and pediatric nutrition specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says, “Our findings suggest that the use of electronic games should be limited to prevent childhood obesity.” It is speculated that children who play computer games are less likely to get enough exercise, and more likely to snack unsupervised.
There are definitely detrimental effects of video and computer games, such as increased chance of obesity and acting as a catalyst for mental and social problems. However, research has also shown benefits of playing video games. Some include:
1) Helping children with attention deficit disorders gain social skills
2) Improving hand-eye coordination
3) Inducing quick decision making
4) Improving language and math skills
5) Gain self-confidence
While I agree with phillius and mercurycommunications that computer games can lead to less physical activity, I think it is the parents’ responsibility to monitor and limit the computer use. If you are concerned about your child not being active enough, just set a limit as to how much time can be spent on the computer or in front of the TV.
In my experience, computer games can be a useful learning tool for kids if you buy them educational games and monitor the use of the computer. Sitting a child down in front of the computer to play an educational game for 30minutes is no different than having your child sit down to do a page in a workbook. Computer games, as with TV, in my opinion are neither good nor bad but can be made part of a balanced lifestyle; that’s the key word here: balance.
I remember back when I was in grade school, we used to have specific days of the week when my entire class went to the computer lab. We each had our own computer already installed with various educational games to work on. I remember this being a sort of social event with my classmates, since we all got to work together and share our progress. So in a way, I think computer games can be a wonderful learning tool, as well as a fun way to get children working together and socializing.
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