The gaming industry is now a growing multi million dollar industry. The level to which the industry has grown since its conception is unimaginable. The credit for the industry booming, could be very well handed over to our children. Computer and video games have been very popular among children and teenagers aged between seven to sixteen.
The strategies used to build the games, the graphics, the quality of sound, the interactivity all make them quite irresistible among the younger generation. Gaming industries now have a new strategy to market their games - the medical benefits of playing games. Not only medical benefits but also educational. We cannot just ignore it as a cheap marketing strategy because they do have researchers and doctors to back them up.
Researchers have found that frequent game players score better at vision tests as compared to non players. It has also been found that playing these games could improve children's logical thinking ability and problem solving skills. Games such as SimCity, Age of Mythology, etc where gamers have to build houses, cities and develop war strategies help them to develop their logical skills and also help in decision making. Educational games help to improve their communication and problem solving abilities, alertness, locating things easily without straining too much and so on. American teachers have also found improvement in their students' mathematics, spelling and reading amongst children who play these games. The government is pondering and researching ways to integrate such games into the academic curriculum.
Where on one hand the games do prove to be beneficial to an extent, at the same time, its ill effects cannot be ignored. Doctors have found a possible threat to these frequent gamers, affecting their health. Common complaints found among children obsessed with games are eye strains, wrist, neck and back pains, etc. Photosensitive epilepsy, headaches, hallucinations, nerve and muscle damages etc. Speculation is going on about whether playing games can cause obesity in the long run.
Specialists have confirmed that children who spend too much time playing computer games not only are easily susceptible to long terms problems like bad posture and RSI (repetitive strain injury), but it also causes a disequilibrium in their daily routine. This stands true not only for children playing games but also for those who spend long hours on the computer. Dr Diana Macgregor of the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital has highlighted the case of an 11-year-old boy who suffered from tendonitis following long periods on his Nintendo Game Boy, a condition that has come to be known as 'Nintendonitis'. RSI is not as simple as it sounds. Its treatment is generally a long difficult process. It could be anything from simple relaxation exercises to Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Is this really something that parents would like their children to go through?
Spending many hours in front of the monitor and not going out could also cause social problems, thus making them shy and introvert. Apart from that the games developed nowadays happen to be a lot more violent thus the gamers do have a tendency to lose control and become more aggressive.
A controversial new research has proved that excessive playing of games can actually stunt the growth of a human brain. Brain-mapping expert Professor Ryuta Kawashima and his team at Tohoku University in Japan measured the level of brain activity in teenagers playing a Nintendo game and compared it with those who played other arithmetic games. It was concluded that the Nintendo game stimulated activity only in the parts of the brain associated with vision and movement. While arithmetic games stimulated brain activity in both the left and right hemispheres of the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is associated with learning, memory and emotion and continues to develop till the age of 20. Hence it is a matter of concern. Though the games do provide certain benefits, the question is how much and is it really worthwhile.
Parents need to keep track of how much time their children spend in front of the screen playing games and also as to what type of games they play. Every aspect has its advantages and disadvantages; so is the law of nature. What we can do is trying to maintain a balance and get the best of what it has to offer, be it nature or technology.