Can video games cause health problems and violence in youth?
By: Alysia Taylor
Video Games have been around from the late 1950s to the present. Video games can focus on education and/or be used for entertainment, but both can cause medical problems in children. Children are drawn to video games more now than in the past; as a result, there are more health problems related to video games than there were before. Some of the health problems children are facing are seizures, obesity, and aggression. Even though video games can be educational; parents need to educate on how to prevent your today and the next generation from having these health problems. Playing video games either for the first time and/or consecutive times can induced seizures, called “Dark Warrior Epilepsy”. (SM, 1997) There have been reports about seizures worldwide, but not all were related to video games. Most children that have seizures from video games have photosensitivity to flashing lights and images. (SM, 1997) Some of the side effects that parents should look out for when dealing with photosensitivity or “Dark Warrior Epilepsy” are loss of bladder control, breathing patterns changing, and loss of consciousness. (WebMD, 2014) After the seizure has subsided, the youth may experience confusion, tiredness, loss of memory, a headache, and a sore feeling. (WebMD, 2014) Even though television has a lot of the same characteristics, video games are more prone to cause seizures because of the geometrical figures and from the proximity of the child to the screen. (SM, 1997) In order to prevent these seizures or “Dark Warrior Epilepsy” from happening, parents need to monitor behavior while the child is playing, reduce the intensity of exposure to the screen, and have the child wear protective lenses while playing the games. (Solodar, 2014) About 12.5 million Children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese. (Loop, 2013) Although genetics and diet play a role in childhood obesity, media viewing and gaming can contribute a big part. (Loop, 2013) According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) and Erica Loop, the average child should get at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity each day. (Loop, 2013) (CDC, 2011)If not, children can grow up having a plethora of health problems including but not limited to: high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea. (CDC, 2011) Parents can help their children from becoming obese by balancing calories, encouraging healthier choices and eating habits, keeping the kids more active, and reducing T.V. and video gaming time. (CDC, 2011) Video games and aggression (violence) have been connected in the media since the 1990’s. (Layton, 2008) An estimated 97 percent of American’s young people are playing video games, with many of the most popular games featuring violent content. (Layton, 2008)The average youth player plays at least 13.2 hours per week of games. (Layton, 2008)According to Julia Layton, a 2000 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, college students play video games and then engage in a competition that ended with the winner punishing the loser with a loud audio blast. (Layton, 2008)At the end of the study, the student who had played a violent game punished their opponents for longer than the students who played the nonviolent games. (Layton, 2008) To prevent youth from experiencing violence from video games, parents should monitor what type of games their child is playing, how long they are playing and how often the child is playing it, and if there are any signs of aggression and/or violence