Do Computer Games Harm Childrens Learning?

Computer games for children of all ages are widely available these days, but could playing a computer game harm a child’s learning ability rather than increase it?

The debate about the effect of computer games on children has been raging for a long time and there are a variety of viewpoints to consider. There are those that steadfastly stick to the view that, yes, playing any type of computer game will harm a child’s learning ability, and those that think they could actually have a degree of help; yet more people are undecided on the issue.

Potential Harm

The issues surrounding the potential harm of computer games usually stem from the idea that endlessly playing computer and video games without doing other activities is detrimental for the health and learning of children. There are some games, for example, that do contain an excessive level of violence, racist messages and images not suitable for children.

Studies have been carried out into the potential dangers of using computer and video games and problems have been highlighted in children who spend hours and hours playing such games.

Excessively playing such games could have a detrimental effect on a child’s health, as it’s not healthy to spend hours and hours sitting in the same position, only carrying out limited movements with hands and staring at a computer or TV screen. There have been reported instances, for example, of children developing bad RSI type symptoms in their arms and hands from long hours of playing computer games.

Potential Benefits

Despite the negative coverage of computer games, there is the potential that they can also offer benefits. As long as parents are able to monitor the type of game played by a child and the length of time it’s played, there shouldn’t be any major concerns. In fact, there are some highly educational based games available for young players that can enhance learning and education, rather than harm it.

With most households now having at least one computer in the home, children grow up with an awareness of them and how they work. Children are now able to get to grips with computer use from a young age, providing them with skills that previous generations didn’t have.

For the under fives and pre-school age, there are a variety of specially designed computer games available which help to teach essential education elements in a fun and interactive way. As they’re presented in the form of stories and games, children are likely to be unaware that they’re learning basic maths or English concepts – something that’s actually one of the best ways of learning.

For older children aged six and over, a variety of educational games for the current generation are being produced for use on formats such as the Nintendo DS. For example, there are some great brain training games that are specifically designed for this age and help children learn key skills whilst enjoying a fun game. To get over the notion that playing games endlessly for long periods of time is detrimental, the onus is on spending a small amount of time each day playing the game and completing tasks.

There’s also the Wii, which still focuses on games and fun, but in a way in which more people and even the whole family can be involved and in a much more physically interactive way than previously.

To conclude, there are definitely some issues involved with computer games and it’s certainly not recommended that children play games for hours on end each without breaks. However, used appropriately and where games are chosen to suit the age of the child, it appears that they can provide some learning abilities and help boost the skills and confidence of the children involved. It comes down to being a matter of balance and getting the balance right.