With the development of digital technologies, video games have taken an increasingly important place in our society. Whether they are played on a console, computer, telephone or tablet, they have become a leisure activity and even a sport in their own right.
For several years now, many studies have been looking at the effects that video games can have on the brain development and mental health of individuals, and in particular children. And contrary to what we might think, everything is not black and white and playing video games can have positive or negative effects depending on the circumstances.
💡However, before detailing these points, it should be remembered that all studies agree that exposure to screens is strongly discouraged before the age of 3 as it is not adapted to the brain development of children.
Let’s start with the positive: what are the benefits of video games?
From a cerebral point of view:
- They promote the creation of new neuronal connections, they allow the development of logical sense and problem solving abilities.
- They slow down brain aging by stimulating memory
- They accelerate the processing of information
- They help concentration thanks to the attention they require
On the development of physical abilities:
- They increase the individual’s visual and spatial abilities
- Improve motor skills (including fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination)
On the emotional side and in relation to others:
- They teach perseverance and self-control
- They encourage the pursuit of goals to meet or exceed them
- Multiplayer games develop interpersonal skills, social skills, cooperation and teamwork as well as healthy and fun competition
👌As you can see, there is no need to ban video games from your child’s daily life as they can have a positive impact on his overall development.
However, beware of the risks they may entail:
Video games can have adverse effects on physical health:
This can manifest itself in:
- Sleep disturbances (violent games, inappropriate play times)
- Muscle pain
- Dietary deficiencies due to overconsumption of snack foods and poor eating habits
- Weight gain due to decreased physical activity and poor eating habits
Mental health risks:
By activating the hormonal circuits of reward, video games can induce aggressive behavior if the player fails to achieve his or her goals. This can also lead to addictive behaviors characterized by the following symptoms
- Gradual abandonment of other activities and social relationships
- Decreased school performance
- Poor sleep, poor nutrition
- Mood disorders
If you detect these signs in your child or teenager, do not hesitate to contact a professional who will be able to help you manage this disease.
If you have any doubts about a video game addiction, you can take this online test for yourself or for a loved one.
And the role of parents in all this?
In order to control the risks that video games can have on your children and teenagers, it is therefore necessary to adopt good practices. So that gaming remains fun and does not take over your home.
Here are some rules for healthy digital use:
From the beginning and whatever the age, it is up to the parent to set clear rules and a framework. By keeping control of the child’s consumption, by explaining why there are limits.
Parents can also play with their children, so that this time becomes a moment of sharing and learning as a family.
Finally, to avoid nuisance, it is recommended to:
- Limit the amount of time per week by following the recommendations related to the child’s age
- Be informed about the content of games through the PEGI system
- Avoid video games 1.5 hours before bedtime
- Spend time with your child outside of playtime
- Ensure that the child has time for physical exercise, relaxation and rest
- Establish a dialogue with the child so that he/she understands the importance of the rules and that the exchanges are not too confrontational
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