Today, video games comprise an essential part of the modern society. People at different age play video games and, steadily, the number of people playing video games increases. At the same time, the growing popularity of video games in the modern society raises a number of concerns, which educators and health care professionals maintain and which can have a significant impact on the development of an individual and health of players. In this respect, it should be said that the modern society is mainly concerned with negative effects of playing video games, to the extent that video games are associated with numerous risks and threats to health of people. Moreover, children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of video games because they cannot adequately distinguish the reality and video game that increases the power of impact of video games on children. Therefore, it is extremely important to define whether the impact of video games on children is negative or positive and whether there are any serious threats to health and development of children or probably video games can be helpful in development of children and have some positive effect on their health. To answer all these questions, it is necessary to refer to the current studies related to the problem of the impact of video games, which become compulsion for children today. However, the overwhelming majority of specialists warn against negative effects of playing video games rather than about positive effects of video games on skills, abilities, and especially health of people.
First of all, it is necessary to dwell upon reasons of the growing concerns with potential negative effects of playing video games. In this respect, it should be said that many people believe that playing video games can have a negative impact on children because they are wasting their time while playing video games. Naturally, playing video games contributes to the development of the sedative lifestyle and children decrease their physical activity that increases the risk of the development of various health problems, including obesity, cardio-vascular diseases and others. In such a context, researchers are also concerned with the risks and dangers of playing video games, because numerous studies reveal different negative effects of video games which raise the public opinion against playing video games. In this respect, it is possible to refer to Larry Greenmeier’s article “Can kids become addicted to video games?”¯ (2009), in which the author discusses the overall effect of playing video games on children. In fact, the author reveals the fact that the overwhelming majority of children play video games regularly or occasionally that means that playing video games is a norm for children today. To put it more precisely, Greenemeier concludes that 88 percent of American kids between the ages of eight and 18 play video games occasionally or more and that four times as many boys as girls were considered “pathological gamers”¯ (Greenemeier, 2009). In actuality, this means that the majority of children playing video games have characteristics which are traditionally attributed to addicts. In this regard, the gender differences are quite noteworthy because they indicate to the existence of substantial difference in the attitude of boys and girls to playing video games.
Nevertheless, the fact of the existence of psychological addiction of children on playing video games naturally evokes the disturbance of the public. Therefore, it is possible to presuppose that the existence of such addiction and researches which prove the existence of such addiction on the scientific basis are factors that contribute to the development of the negative attitude of the public to playing video games.
To maintain the findings concerning the risk of development of addiction in children to playing video games, the author discusses major characteristics which are normally attributed to addicts. After that, the author extrapolates these factors on children and their behavior and attitude to video games. On analyzing the typical behavior of children and their attitude to playing video games, the author attributes several factors, which are characteristics of addicts, to children playing video games. In such a context, the conclusion of the author seems to be logical and the public can hardly accept video games as harmless to children. In stark contrast, such studies raise the public concerns about risks and dangers of video games and their potentially negative impact on children.
On the other hand, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that the addiction of children to video games is psychological and it does not evoke physiological addiction of children to video games. The latter factor is very important and shows that the debate concerning the negative impact of playing video games on children is open. In such a context, it is still necessary to focus on other researches to identify effects of playing video games on children. In fact, it is obvious that video games are not necessarily negative or dangerous in relation to children. Nevertheless it is obvious that playing video games does have a negative impact on children. Even though addiction related to video games is a sheer psychological addiction or, even if video games are just one of many factors forming persistent addiction in children, it is still obvious that playing and distribution of video games should be carefully regulated. What is meant here is the fact that the regulation of playing video games by children should involve parental control over video games their children play and the amount of time they spent while playing video games. As for the control over the distribution of video games, this means that state agencies should rate video games to prevent or, at least, minimize their negative impact on psychology of children as well as adults.
However, some researchers attempt to stress positive effects of playing video games. At this point, it is possible to refer to another article by Larry Greenmeier (2009) “Using virtual worlds and video games to teach the lesson of reality”¯. In this article, the author attempts to reveal potential benefits of playing video games and, as the matter of fact, Greenmeier (2009) argues that video games can be useful for children and their development. Basically, the article discusses the potential application of video games in education and upbringing of children.
Unlike the previous article which reveals the addiction of many children to video games, “Using virtual worlds and video games to teach the lesson of reality”¯ explores another side of playing video games. Greenmeier (2009) refers to researches of educators who have revealed the fact that modern schools use video games in the learning process. Educators use video games to stimulate the real-world situations in the classroom to help students to develop critical-thinking skills and enhance their understanding of science and math. In such a way, the article reveals that video games have a large scope for application and educators can use them in the learning process to accelerate the development of children and facilitate the learning process because video games naturally evoke the interest of children to the subject. As a result, it is possible to presuppose that the use of video games by educators in the learning process can evoke the interest of children to learning.
However, such a view on video games does not take into consideration positive effects of such innovations in the learning process. To put it more precisely, using video games in the course of learning can stimulate the development of even stronger addiction of children to playing video games. What is more important, the systematic use of video games in education and the learning process will have a long-lasting effect on children’s psychology and development. In fact, the involvement of video games in the learning process raises the problem of video games becoming an integral, essential part of the life of children, because games become not just the mere entertainment but rather the necessity for they do need video games in their learning.
In addition, Greenmeier (2009) points out that the use of video games in education can have a long-lasting effect in a long-run perspective.
To put it more precisely, the author argues that video games can encourage children to pursue careers related to subjects where video games were applied as well as video games encourage children to pursue careers in technology and engineering. In such a way, the author implies that video games can influence career choices of children. However, the potential of video games as career forming factor needs further detailed research since career choices are influenced by multiple factors, but it is necessary to avoid underestimating the significance of video games in this regard. Thus, it is obvious that arguments of supporters of the use of video games in education of children are inconsistent because they have negative effects on health of children, they can form long-lasting addiction to playing video games and, what is more, they contribute to the formation of a sedative lifestyle in a long-run perspective.
In this respect, it is possible to refer to the study conducted by Choi and Kim (2004) “Why people continue to play online games: In search of excellent design factors to increase customer loyalty to online contents”¯, where the researchers develop the idea that playing online games can have a negative impact on the development of children as well as adults. According to the researchers, video games contribute to the consistent change in psychology and behavior of players as customers. To put it more precisely, playing online games can lead to the formation of virtual communities, increase the time people spend online. In such a way, people escape from the reality and change their lifestyle consistently because they spend more and more time online, while the real world steadily becomes secondary to them. Choi and Kim (2004) stress that playing online games can have a long-lasting effect because it needs the development of specific gaming skills, while success in games encourages people to play over and over again. As a result, video games become an essential but harmful part of the life of people.
Furthermore, in a long-run perspective, playing video games can influence consistently the character of an individual playing such games. In this respect, it is possible to refer to numerous studies (Hagelin, 2006) which stress the negative impact of violent video games on the character of players, especially children. In actuality, the development of the personality is vulnerable to the impact of games since game is a natural activity for children. Therefore, playing video games influences the personality of children, especially if they play regularly and for a long time. Some researchers (Hagelin, 2006) point out that playing violent games, such as GTA-2, provokes consistent change in the behavior of children in a long-run perspective. To put it more precisely, violent video games increase aggressiveness of children as well as adult players. Moreover, children learn models of behavior from the game. The problem is that children cannot distinguish what is good and what is bad. As they play violent video games, such as GTA-2, they get accustomed to violent behavior and they view this model of behavior as a norm. In case of GTA-2, children play performing criminal acts and they cannot understand that crimes are unacceptable in the real life. As a result, they can commit violent acts or crimes extrapolating their game experience on the real life situation. In such a way, playing video games for a long time can lead to negative changes in the character of an individual, while children can develop their personality under the impact of models they learn from games. In other words, children extrapolate their game experience on the real life.
Hypothesis and research question
Greenmeier’s study (2009) raises the problem of the addiction of children to playing video games. In such a context, it is possible to presuppose that children are likely to develop a strong addiction in case of playing video games for a long period of time.
H1: If children play video games continuously, regularly, and for a long period of time, they can develop psychological addiction
Hagelin (2006) argues that playing video games increases aggressiveness of children and lead to significant behavioral changes in players, especially children.
H2: If children play violent video games for a long period of time, they are likely to become aggressive and violent in the real life.
Choi and Kim argue that playing video games leads to the slipping of players toward the virtual world and they tend to spend more time while playing video games. In such a way, video games lead to the change in behavior of players.
H3: If players are accustomed to play online video games and spend a lot of time online, they can change their behavior and spend more time online ignoring the real world.
RQ1: Can video games lead to the development of addiction in children?
RQ2: Can the long-lasting exposure of children to playing video games lead to increased aggressiveness, violence and behavioral changes in children?
RQ3: Can players change their behavior and shift toward the virtual world in the result of playing online video games?