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.