How Do Video Games Affect Adolescents?

November 22, 2019
Worried about how video games affect adolescents? Playing games together with your children and discussing the game contents, as well as supervising video game activity, are some of the suggestions and recommendations you can follow.

Society as a whole tends to believe that video games mostly affect adolescents in negative ways. However, it is essential to identify which of these perceptions are myths and which are based on evidence.

Just like with the rest of the technology in existence today, video games have their uses. However, there are many variables at play, such as age, length of play, the themes that videogames address, even the characteristics of the users – in this case, adolescents.

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How video games affect adolescents

Several studies have shown that some video games can improve cognitive parameters, as well as the ability to solve problems and process information. However, other reputable sources warn about potential risks.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) of North America highlights just that:

“On average, girls spend more than an hour a day playing video games and boys spend more than two hours. Teenagers often spend even more time than younger children.”

How excess video games affect adolescents
Video game addiction can cause several problems in teenagers, especially in their behavior.

Likewise, researchers from this scientific society point out that video games have become very sophisticated and realistic. Some games “connect to the Internet, allowing children and teenagers to play and have conversations with adults and unknown players.” Therefore, it’s fundamental to be aware and conscious of the possible dangers and to be cautious.

Some games have educational content. However, many of those that are most popular also contain negative aspects: they promote violence against human beings and animals. Also, some even feature prejudicial or discriminatory characteristics, gender violence, and stereotypes that reinforce the persistence of certain negative stigmas.

Potential effects of the use of video games in adolescents

Most of these concerns are associated with the effect of excessive video gameplay on young people and their degree of involvement with roles and characters, as well as difficulties in controlling the amount of time they play.

What are some of the possible harmful effects of playing too much?

While it’s not possible to talk about all of the negative effects, it’s important to know the following:

  • Less socialization time with friends and family.
  • Insufficient time for school and leisure activities.
  • Less exercise and a more sedentary lifestyle, with a greater risk of obesity.
How do video games affect adolescents

In addition to behavioral problems, video game addiction can influence sedentary lifestyle and have consequences on health.

What can you do?

  • Family and educational institutions must promote better use of video games. Thus, they will decrease the dangerous effects and instead promote the emergence of benefits.
  • Choose video games that you can play together with your children and make sure to talk about the contents of the game. Also, supervise any social interactions occurring through the video game.
  • Along those same lines, it’s important to establish specific playing schedules and enforce those allotted time frames.

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In an interesting publication on Exploring Your Mind, Ana Ramos also points out that there are many different types of video games in existence, such as platforms:

“These types of video games are the ones that pass from one suspended platform to the next, in successive screens, and at the same time overcome obstacles. They promote a quicker thought process, since the action is fast-paced. However, precisely for this reason, they can cause a lot of fatigue and inhibit concentration during subsequent activities.”

The author also points out the existence of sports- and non-sports-related games, as well as simulation and shooting or fighting games in which there are “fast-paced fights with martial arts or firearms”.

These violent games ​​are perhaps the most infamous ones and have given video games, in general, a bad rap. In fact, some studies show that these violent types of games can increase violent tendencies in children who play them.

In summary:

  • Video games are here to stay, so it’s not a good idea to prohibit them. Instead, adequate supervision – via accompaniment – is the best option. This allows parents to show adolescents how to safely use technology starting at a young age
  • It’s necessary to eradicate myths that claim there’s always a negative connection between adolescence and video games. The truth is that it’s complicated. Like everything, video games can be OK and even provide benefits if taken advantage of correctly.
  • Consult with other parents, teachers and health professionals about these issues, because when parents lack tools, these people can be a big help.
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psichiatry, AACAP, www.aacap.org
  • Ana Ramos. “El uso de los videojuegos en los niños, ¿benefician o perjudican?, agosto 2013 en lamenteesmaravillosa.com
  • Shao R, Wang Y. The Relation of Violent Video Games to Adolescent Aggression: An Examination of Moderated Mediation Effect. Front Psychol. 2019;10:384. Published 2019 Feb 21. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00384
  • Saquib N, Saquib J, Wahid A, et al. Video game addiction and psychological distress among expatriate adolescents in Saudi Arabia. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;6:112–117. Published 2017 Sep 28. doi:10.1016/j.abrep.2017.09.003
  • Kimmig AS, Andringa G, Derntl B. Potential Adverse Effects of Violent Video Gaming: Interpersonal- Affective Traits Are Rather Impaired Than Disinhibition in Young Adults. Front Psychol. 2018;9:736. Published 2018 May 16. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00736