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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Dangers of Online Games Addiction

About 82% of American kids between the ages 2 to 17 years old are currently online gamers. That amounts to 55.7 million, according to The NPD Group. The largest segment belongs to those 9 to 11 years of age, spending a minimum of 11 hours per week staring at their computer screens, taking on adventures as customized characters and participating in a virtual world that resembles their reality. Some grow out of their fascination, but there are others who take it to an extreme. The reasons behind addiction to online games differ from person to person. Some like the sense of achievement they feel in such settings. Others find it a better medium for social integration than their current environment. Whichever is the case, obsession to online games often leads kids to any one of these negative results.
a. Poor academic performance. Some kids today prefer to skip school and stay at home to level up in MMORP games they are playing. Those that do attend school are not able to concentrate because of the distraction. As a result, they hardly participate in and absorb class discussions. And since they usually spend whatever extra time they have participating in online games, they fail to accomplish requirements, therefore failing in their school work.
b. Social retardation and isolation. A lot of kids get used to the scenarios of online games so much, that they forget how it is to be in a real conversation with regular people, or worse, prefer the virtual one than the complicated human interaction. Remember, they can get exposed to these distractions as young as 2 years old. And even though they may not get access to PG games by the time they are 7 (during which, they already fake their identities), there are still some dysfunctional social conducts displayed on games they could mimic, such as poking someone or shouting ceaselessly when they are hurt or excited.
c. Violence. You can defend online games all you want, insinuating that any form of media perpetuates violence. However, the online games children play may not necessarily be always under the control or with the participation of parents. So they are more dangerous than a TV show or a movie they watch side by side. Studies have shown that 21% of the popular video games children between 10 to 15 years old like to play actually feature acts of violence. And with further research implicating 30 minutes of exposure causing alterations in an adolescent's sense of self-control suggests that online games are largely to blame for a teenager's outburst.
d. Health problems. Every kid who spends more than an hour playing online games every day has complained of headaches, sleeping problems, muscle aches and memory gaps. If anything, this asserts that too much gaming disrupts their natural biological processes and makes them feel ill and incapable of keeping themselves in good shape. There have been a number of observations claiming that games also negatively influences kid's appetite and their diet choices.
Now, this is not to say that online games do not have advantages. They are educational and certainly entertaining. This is, more or less, a warning to parents to be mindful of their children and prevent gaming addiction before it becomes too great for them to deal with.
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