Video Game Playing and Attention Problems

Can Excessive Video Game Playing Cause Attention Problems?

Yes, its just like you thought. The more your child or teen sits around watching TV or playing video games, the more at risk they will be for learning problems and attention problems. We have written about this before, and not to much has changed except that the research is starting to show up to validate what parents have known for years now.

As parents we have to understand that video games may be addictive to our children and teens. In fact, others have reported that up to 30% of all males who play video games regularly may be physiologically addicted to game playing. The more violent the game is, the more potentially addictive it may be.

Parents, please understand that your children are growing up in a culture that is far different from the culture that we grew up in. Our children don’t know about Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Viet Nam, or even Jimmy Carter.

Our children have far more media and entertainment choices than we ever grew up with, and they don’t know that they can live without cell phones, ipods, video games, rental videos, cable TV, and the internet – because they have never known a world without them!

Children and teens live their lives saturated with media. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent study of children ages 8 to 18:

o Young people spend an average of 6.5 hours per day with entertainment media, which works out to over 44 hours per week!

o Since young people often multi-task with media, they are actually exposed to about 8.5 hours of entertainment media every day, or about 60 hours per week.

o TV, videos, and music are the dominant entertainment media, averaging 4 hours every day.

o Internet use for fun averages about 1 hour per day.

o Playing of video games averages 1 hour per day.

o By comparison, reading books, magazines, or newspapers averages only 45 minutes per day. Doing chores averages 30 minutes per day, and doing homework averages 50 minutes per day.

Of course, we parents are the ones who have created this media entertainment environment for our children and teens to grow up in. Our homes average 3.6 CD players, 3.5 television sets, 3.3 radios, 3.9 DVD players, 2.1 video game consoles, and 1.5 computers. In fact, 25% of children are growing up in a home with five or more TV sets!

There is a new study out of Iowa State University, published in Psychophysiology, that reports that young adults (they studied young men between 18 and 33 years old) who play around 40 hours per week of video games have more difficulty maintaining focused attention in the classroom or similar settings, and that certain brain wave patterns associated with attention were diminished in the video playing group over the control group.

One of the study’s authors is Dr. Craig Anderson, director of Iowa State’s Center for the Study of Violence. Dr. Anderson has studied the effects of a number of video games on human behavior. He has written an letter to parents that I would encourage you to read here: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/VG_recommendations.html and his website’s home page is here: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/index.html

Another recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine by Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute research team led by Jeffrey Johnson, and Tara Stevens of Texas Tech University.

This study shows that teenagers who spent a lot of time watching TV were more likely to have attention and learning problems “that persist, and interfere with their long-term educational achievement.” The researchers advise parents to limit the amount of time they let their children watch TV (or we would add any entertainment that is similar to TV viewing, such as video game play) to less than two hours per day, adding that they should only watch quality programming.

They specifically noted that video games have little educational value, and may promote attention problems in children. We are concerned by other studies that show that violent video games, they kind that can cause the release of adrenalin, can be highly addictive, and that about 30% of boys who play these games are already addicted to them.

The researchers found that watching TV for three or more hours per day at the age of 14 often resulted in attention problems, failure to complete homework, boredom at school, failure to complete high school, poor grades, negative attitudes about school, overall academic failure in high school later on, and failure to go on to college.

This list looks a lot like a list for someone abusing drugs too, doesn’t it? We have always been concerned that TV viewing acts on the brain much like a narcotic, and that too much viewing can be addictive. Though this study doesn’t address that issue, the list of results from too much viewing is certainly troubling.
The researchers conclude that we should restrict the time that our children and teens spend viewing TV or playing video games.

By the way parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years of age not watch TV at all. TV watching by infants has shown to be associated with problems of attention control, aggressive behavior, and poor mental development. The AAP views excessive television viewing by infants as “one of the major public health issues facing American children.”

Parents, its time that we come to understand that TV and video games are not our friends, and they are not our children’s friends. We were not created to spend 40 hours per week inside our rooms, sitting on sofas, playing video games or watching TV shows. We were made to move, to go outside and play, to work, to interact with others, to make conversation, to think.

It is time for us to re-evaluate how we let our children live their lives. It is time for us to re-evaluate our own lives. Please don’t let those that you love waste their lives in virtual worlds.

What You Need to Know About Video Game Design Colleges

If you are interested in a career in video game design, you are in luck because there are video game design colleges that specialize in this. Video design programs have been made popular by the increased interest in video games. Video games are not just for the teenage boys since even a majority of adults now play them. The traditional colleges are still cautious about offering degree in video games but a large number of them are warming up to the idea. Some of the colleges are now offering PhDs for this field.

The internet is a great source to find the game design colleges but it will take a lot of research to find these design programs in the traditional colleges. If you are joining a state college the design programs may be listed under a different name. Some of the other names used to refer to these programs include digital media, digital arts, video game studies, interactive media or game and simulation arts.

Once you get the video game college, the next step is deciding what you will actually study. There is a theoretical part of the design programs where you will learn how to analyze video game playing. This will give you a chance to understand whether players learn through playing and how the learning takes place. A lot of research is now being carried out about the learning principles and video games.

The programs offered also include a creative aspect where you will learn about the fundamentals of animation and drawing. There is also a technical aspect involved that involves studying about the game interface designs and software. Some of the programs will require you to take courses in mechanical engineering and physics. This is the only way to understand how the video game characters act and move.

If you want to attend a game design college that specializes in the design of video games you have to take some advanced classes in computer programming and mathematics while in high school. Make sure that the field you apply for has adequate job opportunities before settling on it.

9 Benefits of Playing Video Games

Today’s games are ambitious, challenging, and complex. The games are getting better with the passage of time. As a matter of fact, the benefits go beyond the entertainment. Given below are a few surprising benefits of playing video games.

1. They are good for surgeons

Reading latest research is a must for surgeons. According to a study of laparoscopic, it was discovered that surgeons who have a habit of playing video games for over three hours in 7 days are more likely to perform better during the procedures they perform.

2. They Help You Overcome Dyslexia

According to some research studies, attention difficulties is one of the main causes of dyslexia. As a matter of fact, a study found that patients shown better reading comprehension once they have played a video game. Actually, what happens is that video games change the environment on a constant basis in order to make the player focus more.

3. They Improve Your eyesight

You may have heard that sitting too close to the TV is bad for you vision. However, today, scientists found that if you play games in moderation, your vision will get better. Therefore, it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time playing your favorite video games.

4. They boost your career

Some game genres make players develop better leadership traits. As a result, they provide better services for the society. According to researchers, players show a correlating motivation to choose a better career.

5. They Make You Physical

Some games improve your body interaction. Even if you play with a handheld controller, it will be considered a physical activity. As a matter of fact, sports games, such as tennis, basketball or skateboarding games may help your kids practice the required skills.

6. Games slow down your Aging Process

Today’s brain games help you improve your memory, puzzle components and problem solving skills, especially if you are a senior player. According to a study, a few players played these games for 10 hours. In the end, they showed an improved cognitive functioning.

7. Games help you lessen your pain

What do you do to distract yourself from pain? Of course, you focus your attention on something else. However, you can also play video games to achieve the same purpose. As a matter of fact, playing games helps your body produce a pain-killing response in your body. You don’t feel the pain at all if you are paying full attention to the game that you are playing.

8. Games help you get social

People think that gamers are too insulated; however, this is not true. Nowadays, you have multi-player games that let you get in touch with new players. People from different corners of the world get together, play their favorite games and solve mutual problems.

9. Games help you reduce stress

Some games induce stress, but you can also find some that help you reduce your stress. According to a study, players who played video games had stable heart rates compared to the ones who didn’t play video games.

So, these are some of the benefits that you can enjoy if you play video games.