Video Games

Lately I have been thinking a lot about TV and Video Games. The reason why is because it has been so prevalent in our world today. Playing video games and watching TV is how most Americans spend their leisure time. I am against these activities if they are chosen too often, unless done in moderation and here are my reasons why I disagree with them.

First of all my father did not allow my brother and I to watch too much television. We never even had cable, and video games in my house were pretty limited. We had to do our chores and make sure things were done before we could play. I honestly recall it wasn't very much that we played any video games or watched TV. Besides my brother and I would usually choose to be in our rooms doing things, playing with friends, or playing outside with each other. Of course when my brother got older he was into video games, but that slowly changed when he found his sweet heart and started his own family. I on the other hand continued my habit of not playing video games as much, and only watching television on occasion. During my college years I did not have time for those things, so seldom did them as well. Because I was not used to watching a lot of TV or playing video games I continue to be that way even in married life.

Secondly I am pretty familiar with the statistics of how excessive amounts of TV and video games can negatively affect children in the long run. There are many articles that state that aggressive behavior is linked to violent video games. Just do the research if you aren't familiar with it and you'll find out the same thing. Sure there are arguments from both sides on the matter, however I find that in most of the cases like the Columbine story, they have been found to be addicts of violent video games. Now some may say video games are not the cause and that might be true. Maybe violent video games are not the direct cause of violent acts in real life, but they could easily influence such behavior and are most likely contributing factors. To be fair I have also learned there are now more video games and television shows where children can learn their ABC's and can be considered beneficial or productive entertainment where you can learn while you play. But isn't there a line, that if crossed, becomes obsessive or just plain too much or too often? Television and video games aren't babysitters and can't replace parents or family time. I understand that a balanced life is important and playing video games or watching TV is a normal part of leisure time or a way to relax, but shouldn't there be a limit?

Finally I come to my point of why I am bringing this up and it's because not only do I see children watching and playing more video games, I see adults as well. This site I found interesting I have a few people that come to mind who are adults and I wonder might be addicted to video games. I have friends that play video games everyday or every week and if I want to get together with them I have to join them in their video game playing. Sure they have the right to do as they please, but why do we always have to get together for that reason, isn't there anything else we can do?? I also have a brother in law who every time we get together with him we have to play video games. Even as a guest at our house over Christmas he gets the video games started. I don't see him very often and when I do see him, we play video games, so it would be nice for a change, to get to know him better other than through video games. I don't mean to speak unkindly of them at all, I am just wondering why does the world find television and video games so exciting. Why does it take up most of their leisure time??

I hope you don't consider me a hypocrite, because don't get me wrong, I have my days set aside where I have my TV watching and occasionally play non violent video games with my husband. I just get on my soap box over people who only do those two activities in their spare time. Life is so rewarding and there is so much to do other than to waste it on media. I understand winter can be tough for some but honestly, there are plenty of other healthy and entertaining alternatives.

Am I alone in this way of thinking? Does anyone feel like I'm too old fashioned? I know there is research out there that says to keep life healthy and limit these things but why doesn't that seem to phase some people? Can someone please help me understand this? My purpose in writing this post is to promote a worth while discussion on a topic that has been on my mind for awhile. Please let me know if any of you have anything to say, no matter if you disagree or agree with me.

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Marcus said...

I don't know if I necessarily agree with you on a lot of this.

The biggest advocate of the link between violent behavior and video games was a man named Jack Thompson, a lawyer from Florida. Any act of violence, and this guy was pointing fingers at video games. He was a nutcase and was eventually disbarred.

For every study claiming video games or TV leads to violence, you'll see one debunking it. For every negative argument, you'll find one promoting the benefits. If video games didn't exist, someone would find something else to blame.

If someone chooses to play video games, who are we to judge? They don't fit into our idea of what happiness is, but that doesn't mean they aren't happy.

If it's someone who has a tendency to make obvious complaints and remarks about being unhappy with their lives, yet continue that behavior, then there's a problem.

I've played a lot of video games in my life... I mean, a lot. I get excited, frustrated and all the other emotions that come with it. I think it's a perfectly healthy way to take my mind off work and other stresses. Some people watch TV, some watch movies, some clean, shop, etc... Who's to say what's right and what's wrong?

There's an interesting book called The Third Wave by a guy named Alvin Tovler. This book talks about how societies have developed over the course of humanity from agricultural, to industrial, and now, technological. He discusses how the industrial revolution encouraged the separation of families and communities. It created more isolationism than anything anyone had seen before. Now, with the technological age, I see how much more isolated people are becoming. Even now, as I write this, I'm writing from a computer screen where in the past, we'd have had this conversation over the phone... And before that, face to face. The close-knit family and community mindset is dwindling quickly. Many people don't even know their neighbor's names. Is this unhappiness, or just a product of the environment?

Tracie said...

I don't think playing video games or watching TV is a problem unless it affects other parts of your life. For instance, your relationships with others, your health, your job, your ability to concentrate, etc.

Some people find a lot of enjoyment in these activities and might be their preferred activity over say shopping, sports, board games, parties, etc. And there's nothing wrong with it.

I do think that kids should have limits because there definitely needs to be moderation in all things. Also, these activities (like many activities) can be addicting and time-consuming. If you spend all of your leisure time playing games/watching TV it's probably not that big of a deal. But what if you start ignoring your spouse and your family. What if you stay up too late and affect your health and job performance? What if you don't really want to play anymore but you can't make yourself stop? Speaking from personal experience, watching TV and playing video games can be a lot of fun, but they can also have their dangers. Austin and I have had fights about gaming before. We cancel our gaming accounts every time our life gets too busy or we find ourselves not spending enough time together.

Another danger is that people can use gaming as an escape from real life. I mean, to blow some stress is no big deal but to avoid dealing with your problem is a psychological issue that can cause real harm.

I agree with Marcus in that violence in the games isn't usually that big of a concern. I think parents not being involved in kids' lives is the bigger issue. Parents need to make time to talk to their kids. I also think there should be age-appropriate guidelines. If my 17-year-old wanted to play a violent game, I wouldn't have a problem with it. If my 11-year-old did, that'd be different. (most likely, it'd really depend on the kid because not every kid matures at the same level)The age and maturity of the kid makes a big difference.

I do know that I will be setting TV and game limits for my kids. ESPECIALLY the first 10 years of their life. These years are so crucial to their mental and emotional development and I don't think games, for the most part, promote this.

I agree and disagree with Marcus. I think social media has brought people together and spaced people apart. I stay in contact with people that I never would have before the invention of the Internet. However, I also don't know my neighbors. I think we are the product of our environment. Teenagers today are in constant contact with their friends via FB and text messages. I think the problem is that face-to-face interaction has become more socially awkward. Teenagers today are more apt to send a message than to have an actual conversation with someone. Language and communication skills have deteriorated, but I think good parenting and active involvement can help in that regard.

Anyway, that's my two cents. I have more to say, but if I write anymore, I'll have to post my own entry. ;)

Darrell and Amanda said...

Kids who spend a lot of time watching T.V. and playing video games are also more at risk for childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. I think that the official recommendation for T.V./video games for children is no more than two hours per day.

BrItTnEeaNN said...

You all have such great comments and things I agree with. No matter what study there is I do know that you are going to find two sides to an argument. Obviously it is no longer a black and white issue, because the gray areas of varying opinions continue to increase.

I am personally fascinated with the criminals that admit that they started playing violent video games as a young chap. I tend to believe that exposure to violent video games at a young age had a negative influence on such types of criminals. So maybe it's more of an issue of careful parenting, setting boundaries for children, and choosing age appropriate media. Also I agree with you Tracie when you say that parents should have open dialog or conversations with their children about the reasons why there are guidelines and restrictions.

Marcus has a great point. I am not claiming that video games are unhealthy or a bad way to let off steam after a hard day at work or to simply have fun. They probably do help people relax and entertain themselves and they might be the first activity they choose. That's fine for them, just not for me. I do believe it is a way to entertain oneself. I don't believe it should be the only way and that is what I was trying to say.

Video games and TV have interfered with some of the people I care about and my relationship with them, because that is all they would ever want to do. They would do it on a daily basis and often times when I would want to talk with them, they would be too distracted or immersed in their video games or TV show to give me the time to strengthen our relationship.

I agree with Amanda that there should be a time limit. People could use video games and TV to escape from life (just like cleaning, and shopping) or avoid responsibilities. My husband Matt has a friend who divorced her husband because he played video games constantly, he got laid off and neglected his family, which eventually made him lose his family. So there are some serious consequences for obsessive behavior not just with video games, but with all things. Whatever we use as our scape goat or whatever our obsession is can often be unhealthy. Video games and TV just happen to be things that pop up in my life often and that's why I chose to write about them.

I love the idea of that book that Marcus brought up. It is so true that we are becoming less social and I think that is what bugs me the most. Amanda had a good point in stating that "Kids who spend a lot of time watching T.V. and playing video games are also more at risk for childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes" I have seen a lot of this.

I miss the days where we would call each other on the phone, but now we revert to emails, facebook, etc. But Tracie has a good point indicating that sometimes its easier finding other friends through the internet.

I understand you love video games Marcus , but I'm curious how marriage has changed your video games habits? How does your wife feel about video games and has it ever interfered with your relationship? I understand if you don't want to share personal information in a public place, please email me privately if you so desire.

Tracie, how do you feel texting will affect the near future? Do you believe children will have less face-face interaction than we did?

Amanda where did you learn about the healthy amount of TV watching, I would like to know so I can get my facts straight.