Growing up, my parents regularly told me to limit my time playing video games or it would rot my brain. I’m willing to admit that I never took their advice too seriously, but maybe their opinions were not as far-fetched as I originally thought. We live in an era where our children spend hours viewing television and movies, as well as playing video games which may appear harmless; however, research has shown that video games, movies, and television have a profound impact on the mental development and behavior of our children.
For the past decade, researchers have gathered a vast amount of information on the effects of playing video games on child behavior. For instance, studies have found that consistent video game playing may lead to an increase in hostility by over stimulating our children’s nervous system. In essence, video game playing triggers the fight or flight mechanisms in our youth, which may lead to irregular acting out. Moreover, long-after the nervous system of our youth have returned to normal, our children still appear to suffer from sleeping difficulties and inhibited concentration. Furthermore, after playing video games children also appear to experience hindered impulse and emotion control. Experts have also found that simply viewing media may have an impact on children, active participation may not be necessary.
Recently, the New York Times noted that modern movies have a profound impact on the likelihood of future tobacco consumption. For instance, In a recent study done at the University of California San Francisco, researchers found that children who were heavily exposed to smoking in films where two to three times more likely to smoke later in life. Researchers concluded that the connection between smoking in films and future smoking outcomes stems from the reverence our children place on actors. In essence our children attempt to mimic the behaviors of the actors they admire, this on its own is not bad; however, the current films regular depict smoking. For instance, one out of every four movies rated for children depict smoking, and the number of incidents of smoking in top grossing films has increased by seventy-two percent among all movies. Research has also shown that television like movies also affects our children.
Like movies television also appears to have an effect on the behavior of our children. For instance, research has found that violent television can increase the likelihood of violent behavior later in life. Moreover, research findings have noted that watching sexual content can increase sexual behaviors. Televisions ads are especially troublesome to younger children because of their attention grabbing ability and our youth’s difficulty differentiating between ads and programming and separating advertising and reality. In essence, children get engulfed by an ad and a difficulty realizing that the depictions in an ad may be an impossibility.
I hate to admit it, but maybe my parents were on to something. Granted, I don’t believe my brain has rotted from staring at a television or movie screen. However, research indicates that video games can increase hostility and cause sleeping difficulties, that movies may increase the likelihood of smoking, and that television can increase sexual behaviors in children. I don’t think I’ll give my parents too much credit, but I’ll probably spend less time in front of a screen.
Dunckley, Victoria L. “This is Your Child’s Brain on Video Games.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 25 Sept. 2016. Web. 19 July 2017. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201609/is-your-childs-brain-video-games>.
Klass, Perri. “Why Smoking in Films Harms Children.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 July 2017. Web. 19 July 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/well/family/why-smoking-in-films-harms-children.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FChildren and Youth&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection>.
Vitelli, Romeo. “Television, Commercials, and Your Child.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 22 July 2013. Web. 19 July 2017. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201307/television-commercials-and-your-child>.