The good and the bad video games bring out


Growing up in this generation is very different than it used to be. Most parents say they spent their time outside playing rather than being inside with a screen in their face. Many adults say that video games are bad for children for different reasons, but what do they really do? Do they have a positive or negative effect on the mental health of children?

Some may use their electronics to stay productive, while others use it as a distraction. They seem like the same thing, but, from a different perspective, they are two different things. Electronics can keep someone busy if they have free time, either as a distraction or a way to escape one’s reality.

Eva Valtierrez, a sophomore from Redlands East Valley, says, “Video games make me feel excited in a way, but also kind of destroys my procrastination because I am so focused on the game, but mentally puts me in a good state of mind.” Video games can provide an escape from reality for short periods of time when a person is stressed or overwhelmed.

If they are intended for entertainment, how do video games take a toll on someone’s mental health? There are different genres of gaming and ways to play, whether it’s alone or online. While playing online, players can work together with other people which can provide a form of social interaction. Playing a game stimulates the mind to focus on the goal and makes players aware of what’s happening on the screen.

Showing how video games can have a positive influence on players. Some positive influences that video games can hold are problem solving, social connections, and focus on a particular goal (Artwork by Mia Aranda)

Communicating with others can be rather difficult at times. In a tense situation, disagreements with other players can lead to arguments. This can take a toll on one’s emotions. Jenna Tampubolon, a freshman at Citrus Valley High School, says. “I feel like when people play video games, they worry less about their problems and then eventually isolate themselves from everyone which could lead to anger and or being depressed.” 

Some players say they love the rush of tense situations because it makes them feel alive or captured into the game, but sometimes it can be a bit much. Comparing some of these emotions to how it affects mental health still leaves the question as to what exactly provokes it besides playing with others.

In 1958, William Higinbotham created the game Pong–the very first video game. This game brought a lot of joy to those who got to play it. Fast-forwarding 63 years, video games have come a long way, as graphics, fundamentals and mechanics have improved vastly. As video games became more popular, other creators pitched in and went through different routes to create different games in order to expand the video game community. Varying from adventure, puzzle, horror and roleplay, the genres are endless. Even so, they all collectively provide entertainment to people all around the world. 

On the other hand, what do they do for us mentally? In a typical math class, the brains of students work to add up numbers to find the sum. It’s similar to video games, such as how in puzzle games, players have to think of possible scenarios as to which pieces would work and how to ultimately complete the task at hand. 

Adventure games are made to help you build on strategic thinking and memory formation, while horror games help build awareness and focus. Many who have played a game multiple times have more than likely memorized patterns and strategies throughout the entirety of their playthrough. This particular fundamental is important because many adults still believe video games are not a productive activity. Nonetheless, they still work out the brain and also how well one can remember things. 

Whether it’s making players smarter academically or makes them better people by learning from a character’s struggles in their own perspective, video games do have their benefits and positive impacts. However, the longer a person tends to use them as an escape, the more negative habits tend to emerge in the lifestyle of the person. Staying on a game for too long can severely damage a person’s mental health because that can be all that a player thinks about or looks forward to. Staying up all night while staring at the screen will not only tire the average person but will also make players seem out of touch with reality.

Many people have had to adapt to staying indoors and have naturally gravitated towards video games. Some parents have had to deal with their children being on video games too much since they have so much free time and causing a lot of emotion and stress on relationships. Many people have complained about video games causing their children to become upset and violent and withdrawn at home. 

Maria Phumirat, a concerned mother, says, “When I was younger, I would play outside until the sun went down and nowadays kids just stare at a screen and don’t even do their homework when they get home because they go straight to the computer.”

Overall mental health is the most important thing to maintain. Being emotionally involved with video games can sometimes take a toll on a person’s life. It is best to call it a day and take a break from the game from time to time, as video games are ultimately meant to be enjoyed. As long as players have self-control and manage their time effectively, video games are a perfectly acceptable activity for anyone to indulge in.

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