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These days technology and screen media has become so integrated in our children’s lives, that life without these technologies and digital media is hard to imagine. Digital media for example TV, video games and internet could be educational, but when you left the use to your child’s judgment it is surely not educational and they overuse these technologies most of the time. According to a research of NPD (National Purchase Diary Panel Inc.) it has been found that 91% of the children in USA spend most of their screen time by playing different types of video games. The percentage is very similar in the European countries. Excessive video game playing can lead to many problems like obesity, poor educational performance, anxiety, depression, cyberbullying and many more. Though limiting screen time sometimes heartbreaking for a child, but considering the benefits, every responsible parent should think about it very carefully.
A) Prevention of Obesity:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – in the USA children spend more than 7.5 hours playing video games or using other digital media. The time they spend sitting in front of the screen without major muscular movement or physical exercise are leading them towards obesity. It do not ends there, according to the research of “The Global Diabetes Community” and “Harvard Medical School” there is a relationship between obesity and developing type-2 diabetes.
It is recommended by numerous researchers that less exposure to the digital media and limiting child’s video gaming time (not more than 1 hour daily) could prevent obesity and type-2 diabetes in children. It is also found that limiting children’s video gaming time influence children to play outdoor games which is very beneficial for their health.
B) Prevention of Sleep Disorder:
With the development of gaming industry and their successful target oriented digital marketing strategies, made the video games more attractive to the children and the unstructured time profile of the games forcing children and young people to spend more time on their PS4s, Xboxes, tablets or cell phones. According to a research by the University of Washington, titled – “Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems: Issues and Unanswered Questions” which is also supported by American College of Pediatricians (AAP), stated that due to heavy gaming, stimulating images in the video games and exposure to blue light of the screen are causing sleep disturbance among children. Around 80% of the children spends a significant amount of time of the day in front of the screen, are very likely to develop sleep disorders and other problems associated with lack of sleep for example: nightmares, aggressive behavior and anxiety. Limiting the unproductive gaming time and encouraging physical exercises may prevent these sleep disorders in children and can help them to lead a healthier life.
C) To prevent poor educational Performance:
There is a relationship between poor educational performance of children and spending more time playing video games. According to a research by American Academy of Pediatrics, conducted on 1537 students from different high schools in the USA – found that students who spend more time playing video games or uses other screen media after ‘lights out’ causes sleep disorders and results poor grades in school. This research also found that the children who spend more time playing video games or watching TV scores at least 7 to 8 points lower in standard mathematics test. In another research Dr. Kirsten Corder from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, shows that teenagers with lower screen time had higher GCSE grades. After she continuing the research for over 2 years, she concluded that every hour a child spends playing video games or using other screen medias are directly linked to poor educational performance. So for the children’s better future, it is important that parents limit the video gaming time.
D) To prevent Gaming Addiction:
Giving children unlimited access of internet may lead to misuse. Children who are familiar or participates in online gaming, may develop Gaming Addiction gradually. Gaming Addiction is also known as Gaming Disorder, it is an established form of disease which is classified by WHO (World Health Organization) and aftermath of this disease is not very good. This disease may lead a child to severe anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior. Only proper monitoring what games our children are playing and limiting the gaming time to a level which is healthy, can prevent developing gaming addiction in children.
E) To prevent violent / aggressive behavior in children:
It is well known to us all that children are easily influenced by the things they see and learn from others. Allowing children to play violent video games may lead them to develop an aggressive behavior. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, after conducting research on the children from eastern and western countries found that – violent video games have a great influence on their aggressive behavior, empathy and prosocial behavior. Limiting the gaming time along with replacing the violent games may prevent developing this aggressive behavior in children.
F) To prevent Cyberbullying & Predators:
Now these days almost all the online video game come with a function / chat room by which multiple players around the world can be connected and can communicate with each other. This is the place where a child or teen can become a victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying may cause short term as well as long term psychological damage to our children. Due to cyberbullying our children may lose their self-worth, confidence. It can also affect their academic performance. As gaming consoles can be connected with social media profiles and as most of our children are unaware of the privacy settings, another risk is that predators / sexual offenders may contact and exploit our children via these gaming chat rooms.
In conclusion, it is not possible for us to totally remove video games and digital media from our children’s life. As children’s will be using digital media, whatever the physical and psychological harm it causes as it beyond their understanding. So controlling or personalizing is the only way for the parents to prevent the harmful effects of video games and other digital media. Parents have to limit the use of video games and digital media to the level where it is only beneficial for the children.
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