Courtesy | Toronto Star

Gamers must have shud­dered in their parents’ basement when news of China’s crackdown on video games hit head­lines. Would their gov­ern­ments overstep their bound­aries and exercise parental power? Gov­ern­ments should not restrict video-game use. That’s a job for the parents.

Yet China has recently “barred online gamers under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays and limited their play to just three hours most weekends,” according to CNN Business.

While overuse of video games can be a problem, mod­erate and respon­sible play is a pos­itive good. For many people, the problem with video games isn’t playing them too much but rather playing them too little or not all — and failing to take advantage of the ben­efits they can deliver.

Lots of people do need to limit their enter­tainment usage. According to a survey by Common Sense Media, “on any given day, American teenagers average about nine hours of enter­tainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework. Tweens use an average of about six hours’ worth of enter­tainment media daily.” The spe­cific screen time was 4.5 hours for tweens and nearly seven hours for teens.

“Playing really violent games alone all the time at the expense of getting exercise or making friends is not great,” said Jenny Leonard, a Hillsdale sophomore who grew up playing video games with her sisters. “But like almost any­thing, I wouldn’t nec­es­sarily say they are always bad or always good.”

People can abuse good things like food and exercise if used in excess, and that includes video games. Ulti­mately, the ben­efits of relax­ation, fel­lowship, and cog­nition out­weigh the costs that can come from their abuse.

After a long day at work or at school, people relax once they are home, whether it is hanging out with friends or reading a book.

“Per­sonally, I play video games in order to de-stress my mind and focus on some­thing that doesn’t par­tic­u­larly influence my day-to-day choices,” sophomore Jack Leatherwood said.

Gamers can clear their minds of issues they can’t find an answer for and shift to a video game problem that is guar­anteed to have a solution. People can calm down and collect them­selves with the help of video games.

Video games can bring people together through quality time. Paul Lin­dauer, a sophomore, said he enjoys the fel­lowship that playing games brings.

“In cam­paign games you can bond with your team­mates and achieve goals together,” Lin­dauer said.

Video games also allow people to play together, even if they are hun­dreds of miles away. Sophomore Ewan Hayes said that over the summer he was in North Car­olina, but he called his friends in Indiana and Idaho to play games online, in order to keep in touch.

Some people regard playing video games as a passive activity, but only people who haven’t played them can think this way. Gaming is an active pastime that requires players to con­front problems and solve puzzles con­stantly. This gives them advan­tages over books and TV.

The Queensland Uni­versity of Tech­nology in Aus­tralia found that “spending time playing video games rather than watching tele­vision improved cog­nitive skills in the children.” 

“Playing games that are inter­active is good for a child. Research has shown that playing these games can improve self-esteem, cog­nitive skills and in some cases, physical activity,” the report reads.

A survey by the UK’s National Lit­eracy Trust “linked video games to improved lit­eracy, cre­ativity, pos­itive com­mu­ni­cation, empathy and mental well­being in young people.” Many respon­dents said they felt like they became better, more engaged readers than they could with a book.

Video games make room for cre­ativity and can be helpful tools for edu­cation. Every­thing I know about the Aztec Empire comes from a Nancy Drew com­puter game I played when I was 12. Sub­jects such as history, science, and math can all be included in a video game to make learning fun for a child.

To avoid abuse, parents and adults must limit screen time for either their children or them­selves. As a gamer myself, brought up in a family of gamers, I’ve learned that play in healthy doses is important.

“In mod­er­ation, video games can be a great resource for enter­tainment and much needed relax­ation,” Leatherwood said.

They have the authority and respon­si­bility to care for their children. Playing more than three hours every day is unhealthy, and it is the role of parents to dis­ci­pline their children and teach them self-control.