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Video games: The cause of bad behavior in children?

LET us look at the typical teenager, the age of bad grades, hormones and violence. The once peaceful and tranquil home is turned into a madhouse as "I hate you" and "You're ruining my life" are phrases that echo through the hallways, followed by the familiar slamming of the bedroom door, which puts an end to the tiring argument.

For parents out there, this must be just another ordinary day: to return home from an exhausting day of work, only to come face-to-face with your rebellious teen, ready to settle the unfinished business from the breakfast table. But the question is: WHY? Well, the answer is simple.

The truth is there really isn't much going on in the minds of teenagers. The age of making long-term plans, good decisions or differentiating between right and wrong is a long way away, and all that lingers in their minds are: what can I do to go against my parents' will? When I am going to get my allowance? And finally, playing video games. And that is exactly what we will be looking into: the virtual wasteland of video games.

The early 1970s. The era that marked the beginning of the video game craze. Ever since, this technology has been spreading and evolving, poisoning the minds of those who lay hands on a console. Where is your child now? Doing homework as they should be? I think not. They are probably cooped up in their room, engrossed in a video game. And you shouldn't be surprised, as that adds yet one more teen to the ever-growing number of video game-playing kids out there. But the thing is, we all know that video games are bad for us, so why do we still play them? The fact is, once you start, it is almost impossible to stop. Studies have shown that almost a third of children in their teens play video games daily, and 7 percent of them play for more than 30 hours a week. Which doesn't seem to leave much time for homework, does it? Furthermore, this does not only affect children, but adults as well. In one case, a couple was so consumed in their video game that they neglected their three children to the point that they were malnourished. If grown adults succumb to this "drug," what about children?

However, it is not simply about how much time kids spend on gaming, but the content of the games in which they spend hours immersed in. Today, video games come in more varieties, but it is always the violent ones that are most popular. Picture this: A child has a day off and goes to select a video game to play. In front of them are two games. Will they choose to enter the world of math with Zydgo the mathbot or go on a dangerous quest to eliminate enemy droids? More than likely they'll opt for the violent one. Moreover, it has been proven that games rated "M" or even "AO" have become more accessible to children as young as 10.

Many might think, "This isn't a big deal, it's just teens being teens." What they don't know is that this can have a drastic impact on a child, leaving permanent scars. Take an event that took place on April 20, 1999, for example. Two regular boys, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, launched a shooting rampage in a high school in Littleton, Colorado in the United States before turning the guns on themselves. This rash act of violence not only took the lives of 13 students, but also resulted in the injury of 23 others. Investigators found no particular reason for the assault, expect for one: the fact that they both enjoyed playing the bloody shooting video game "Doom." This shows the severe consequences of playing violent video games, as well as the vulnerability of the teenage mind. Even so, some might argue that video games are not all bad. Firstly, all games come with a set of rules, which forces gamers to read the instructions carefully before carrying out a specified task. This not only improves a child's interpretation skills, but also his ability to follow instructions. Moreover, some games require resource management and logistics, which yet again, help the child think on their feet, analyze situations effectively and make better decisions. In addition, through gaming, kids learn the art of "perseverance" as well as teamwork and cooperation.

Nonetheless, even with a slight glimmer of hope in the dark digital world of video games, the bad effects of gaming far outweigh the good. Yes, it improves the child's ability to follow instructions, but parents out there, does it seem to help? Do your kids choose to follow your instructions? What is the use of this "ability" if not put to good use? Furthermore, is helping your child think on his feet a good thing? Or does it open the door to another set of problems? Would you be proud if they used this "ability" to come up with yet another excuse to explain why their grades have been falling? Also, more "perseverance" might simply mean a few more hours spent arguing with them about not playing video games and doing their homework instead.

Is that really what you want to happen? Taking everything into consideration, I believe it is fair to say that video games do cause bad behavior in children, regardless of age. With gaming comes dire consequences, all of which I believe no parent out there wishes their child to experience.

Article by Megan Loy, Year 9 student of Dulwich


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