Video Games: Socio-Cultural and Health Effects
In contemporary society, the aspect of globalization has affected and thus influenced the global population in a variant of both positive and negative effects all shaping the civilization’s present. While scientific and technological advancement is lauded for all of its positive contributions, it is still this same arena that is credited with the production, manufacture and design of harmful, deadly and social altering products or substances.
The new media, and specifically video gaming is currently a multi-billion dollar industry; raking in profits to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales and revenue returns. With a large consumer base, the gaming industry has received its wider share of criticism and defense in its effects. While the educational arena may use gaming modules in the teaching of scholarly and academic material, other games are more inclined towards sports and more so, graphic, violent, bad-mouthed gaming scenarios where competition and complete defeat of all opponents is the ultimate goal.
Video games are criticized for among other negative effects and attributes, the following: – leading to an increase of obesity in game-related health issues, especially those in the youth bracket; an increased indoctrination of the attribute of violence, as a ‘means towards and end’, with foul language lacing the background. Furtherance is the aspect of a decline in educational standards vis-a-vis an increase in anti-social activities, most attributable to negative gaming effects.
In the case of anti-social attributes and effects, delinquency and criminality being espoused in most cases, the presence of increased numbers of juvenile prisoners is a worrisome trend, partly attributable to violent video games. Through constant and successive exposure to such media enhanced imagery and sound effects, one’s psychology is later on affected in assuming and attributing such scenarios into real life human aspects.
Though violence and delinquency may not be solely attributableto violent games, as such levels of aggression especially in juvenile detainees, in a big number of cases points to the overexposure of screen time and gradual assimilation of character traits i.e.indoctrination. Though a majority of such minor offenders possess many risk factors vis-a-vis few or limited risk factors, statistics indicate a strong association between violent and delinquent behavior with violent gaming products. Frequency of play in addition to affinity for such violent games also is a causal factor in increased anti-social cultural effects.
In addition to the gaming industry, is the other entertainment arena of movies and music, which also portray a culture of violence and guns, foul language and competitiveness; the end being justified by the means of avenue taken. Thus, the above entertainment facets are termed as causal risk factors due to their influence on the psychological aspect of long-term gamers.
Childhood obesity and overweight cases, especially in the developed Western nations, is attributable to among others, eating and lifestyle habit; gaming being included. With video games, a great advantage is the fact that there is need for only minimal movement in playing through the various stages, as most of the controlling is done through the hand-held gaming consoles, thus entailing limited physical activity.
With childhood obesity and related ailments increasing consecutively in the last successful decades, it has become a concern to among others policy-makers; health nutritionists and medical practitioners; educationists and the federal government in the overall picture. With contemporary generations having lesser time spent engaged in physical activities, and more time spent in sedentary lifestyles, this increase portends to continue; the drastic resultant effects notwithstanding.
Television viewing, music listening, computer and video-gaming account takes a third part of time of contemporary lifestyles, especially amongst school going youthful generations. With such sedentary lifestyles, this exacerbated by frequeent overindulgence in carbohydrate intakes plus sugary liquids, increases chances of gaining extra weight. With fewer calories being ‘burned out’, most of these excesses are transformed into fats which increase overall weight and body mass index.
In terms of educational aspects, video games are either beneficial or harmful to overall childhood and youth mental development. If a video game is educational in aspect, it provides or enhances the following in a person: memorization ability; the acquisition of new knowledge; supplementation of one’s cognition and contextualization capabilities and also portrays a sense of both ethnic and gender balance.
Unfortunately, a majority of gaming products are lacking in one or most of the above, with new knowledge provided being unbeneficial to childhood and youth educational development and growth. Many of these games are either racial or gender biased, and thus not healthy for overall psychological well-being. Furtherance is the overexposure to such material as the visual gaming and sound aspects are enticing and thus addictive over long-term utility.
The three aforementioned resultant effects are negative to the overall well-being of wholesome child and teenage development. Video games, though having beneficial attributes such as being educational tools, they are on the other hand also ways of enhancing anti-social behavior which may result in either delinquent or criminal behavior especially in youthful generations. Moderation should be exercised, as boys also tend to play games having physical aggression, with girls tending to play ‘softer’ games.
In conclusion, a key advice would be for parents to set a limit to the total amount of time engaged in activities which are inactive by nature, and further encourage ‘outdoor activities’ which require muscular interaction. In addition to the burning of calories, such activities increase blood flow throughout the body, unlike sedentary activities aiding the mitigation and reduction of weight issues and resultant effects.
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