by Stephanie Slaughter
Playing video games can affect child and teen development both positively and negatively. Video games can help children develop problem-solving skills, fine motor skills, and strategy skills, and playing can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity. However, too much screen time or isolation while playing games could have negative consequences. Read on for some of the ways video games affect child and teen development.
Problem-Solving and Strategy Skills
Many video games are based on solving puzzles or problems, or strategizing the best moves to make to win the game. Like the traditional game of chess, some video games require strategy and thinking about the next several actions in advance. This helps to develop thinking skills that can later be beneficial in the workplace, no matter which career a child chooses. Puzzle games from word searches to hidden object games help children and teens work through problems, pay attention to detail and find the solutions so they can succeed and reach the next level.
Reasoning, Logic and Critical-Thinking Skills
Mystery whodunits, brain teasers, and math games help develop critical skills for lifelong success. Games of this type require logical and critical thinking, as well as deductive reasoning, to find solutions to the games. Many children and teens struggle with these skills, but unbeknownst to them, they are developing math and number skills and their thinking and reasoning abilities to find solutions or answers to problems.
Mindfulness and Motor Skills
Simulation and sports games help develop motor skills because they can take a large amount of control while playing, as well as being mindful to many different aspects of a game, simultaneously. This helps develop fine motor skills and control of the body, and works to focus the mind because of the action going on at the moment.
Excess Screen Time and Isolation
On the negative side, too much screen time can lead to a host of problems. Blue light emitted from electronic screens can disrupt the R.E.M. sleep cycle, and a lack of adequate sleep can lead to attention issues and anxiety in children and teens. It is wise to limit the duration of time children spend in front of screens and set a schedule for when screens must be turned off or switched to a more relaxing, calming app. Another issue regarding child development and video games is that they can be isolating. A lot of children play games alone, without being connected to the Internet to play socially with friends. Many popular apps can be multiplayer but are largely designed as solitary games. Too many hours of isolating gameplay can move a child backward in the area of social skills.
Video games can be great tools for developing vital skills in children and teens. However, too much time in front of a screen can have negative consequences for mental and physical health. Generally, it is wise to limit screen time and find balance, including time spent with family or working on other projects that develop critical skills without a screen.
Finding a balance while limiting screen time could include enrolling children or teens in a seasonal sports program, arranging outings with friends, or spending time reading a new book. Another way to limit screen time while allowing children to play video games is to set a schedule. Allow a certain amount of time per day for using a screen and set a time when devices must be turned off. Additionally, you could allow a binge day for devices as a reward for accomplishments throughout the week while still limiting time on the other days. Proper balance is the key to healthy child development.
Stephanie Slaughter began a career in the nursing and surgical technology fields twenty years ago but has since chosen a new career path. More a teacher than a doer, Stephanie has freelance researched, written, and edited on a variety of medical, wellness, and nutrition topics for the past fifteen years as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of three and is currently completing a Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice.