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Various published articles and research projects have looked at some of the negative effects of video games. Although the writer’s concern is primarily with the fact that our children are certainly exhibiting evidence of spending too much of their time on gaming, both on video games consoles and the computer, it would be wrong to ignore the fact that, used properly, video games can bring certain benefits to their users. Although there undoubtedly are some recognised detrimental effects of excessive gaming, including violent and aggressive behaviour, poor socialisation, educational difficulties and certain adverse physical effects, we should not lose sight of one important fact. Video gaming is now such an integral part of the lives of so many children, young people and even adults, that it is important to take a balanced view of its advantages and disadvantages. The perceived benefits of playing video games has been researched and recorded in a number of projects that have been undertaken during the course of the last few years. Some of the general findings contained in the reports from those research projects are set out below.

1. Hand/Eye Co-ordination and Manual Dexterity

Games machine play has been shown to help in the development of hand/eye co-ordination and fine manual skills in children, as well as in the improvement of their visual accuity.

2. Enhancement of Learning Ability

Some of the specific educationally based games, can improve the ability of the child player, particularly in regard to the development of their skills in language and math.

3. Creativity

Children who spend time playing on games machines can enhance their creative sides and find that they have an improved understanding of and interest in technology.

4. Self-Confidence/Cognitive Abilities

Playing on video games can enhance the ability of children to reach decisions for themselves, which can then assist them in the development of their confidence. Cognitive ability can also be similarly enhanced.

5. Taking the mind off negatives

Playing on games can, for temporary periods, distract children from feelings of pain, caused by injury or illness, or from other worries that they may have.

6. Recuperation from illness or injury

There are some video games that can be used to help children during the period of recuperation or to constitute one element of a physiotherapeutic programme for children who have suffered an injury.

7. Socialising

Some children, who have problems with their ability to enter into new relationships with their peers, may be helped by playing certain video games, which give them an idea of the meaning of engaging with another person, in partnership, to the benefit of both, and the value of working in a team.

8. Achieving Goals

Video games that provide a reward, within the context of the game itself, for a player who has attained a certain level of competence, can engender a heightened feeling of self-worth and an enhanced sense of self esteem.

The fundamental factors that are associated with ensuring that the potentially beneficial effects of video games do not become overwhelmed by the negative effects is the amount of time that children spend on the games consoles and the particular type of games that they are allowed to play. Key to both of these matters is the control of parents over both. As in many areas of life where over indulgence can result in detrimental effects, the vital factor is moderation. Children are, by the very fact of their age and relative lack of control, which will only come with maturity, unable to achieve moderation without the intervention and continuing involvement of their parents. It is up to the parents to be the ultimate games controllers and make sure that their children can enjoy the advantages of video games and avoid the disadvantages.

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