Can Someone Explain How Video Games Are Worse For Kids Than Plain TV?

from the demonizing-video-games dept

For years, video games have been a convenient bogeyman/scapegoat for politicians to use in complaining about the sort of thing "kids these days" do on a daily basis. In the past, it's been other things -- from TV to music to comic books. But, these days, video games pop up an awful lot. So I guess it should come as no surprise at all that a recent study in Canada found that parents put much greater limits on how much time kids can spend playing video games than they do on TV or movies. Of course, this seems entirely backwards. Not that parents should let young kids just randomly play any video game, but if they're playing age-appropriate video games, you would think that would be a lot better than just sitting there watching TV with no interactivity whatsoever. Plenty of studies have shown that the interactivity of video games helps kids have better hand-eye coordination and (in some studies) problem solving skills. So why not encourage that? It's not examined in the study, but I'd guess that the constant complaining about these "awful video games" has an impact on a busy parent.


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  1.  
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    TheStupidOne, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    I was severely limited in my video gaming time growing up in spite of the fact that I was active in several sports and had very good grades. So one day when I was over my quota for the day (or maybe week) and it was raining outside (so no going out) I asked my dad what was better for me: sitting in front of a TV mindlessly absorbing whatever was on, or sitting in front of a TV actively playing a game that involved some level of problem solving ability.

     

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    dkp, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    no

    no I can't. as long as the games are age appropriate. the problem is the parents who buy games that have a mature rating for twelve year old kid. this is political grandstanding

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:03pm

    Immersion factor

    it's the 'immersion factor' -- kids can get engrossed in a tv show and ignore their entire world (such as the parents yelling "Suppertime") -- but when you're doing something interactive (like a video game) you REALLY get immersed in it -- to the extreme irritation of the parents. It's one thing when the kid gets upset about missing the last 5 minutes of his show, it's totally another when the kid's played for the past 2 hours and if he leaves now, he'll lose everything (because the last savepoint was an hour & a half ago, etc.)

    Kids tend to get very upset when they're forced to turn off the game in cases like that - and between the parents being mad 'cause they're being ignored, and the kids being mad 'cause the parents just don't understand, and they just beat that big bad guy they've been trying to defeat for the past 2 weeks, and they just want to hit that savepoint first, etc... things escalate in a hurry and all of a sudden everyone is screaming at each other (or worse).

    From the (non-videogame player) parent's point of view, it's all the videogame's fault that their precious little snowflake has turned into a demon.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Wow

    "Can Someone Explain How Video Games Are Worse For Kids Than Plain TV?"

    Swear to God, I read that 3 times with my mouth open before I realized that didn't say, "...than Palin TV?".

    Because I'll tell you this, regardless of your political affiliations, there could be NOTHING worse than Palin TV.

    Unless it was on the Spice Channel.

     

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  5.  
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    Ryan, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    WTF dude, you can't leave us on that cliffhanger. What'd he say?

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Immersion factor

    "From the (non-videogame player) parent's point of view, it's all the videogame's fault that their precious little snowflake has turned into a [cyber]demon."

    Well, if the parents would play a game now and then they'd know to just BFG that sumbitch while shift-running and they'd be all set.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Not surprised.

    66 years of Television Ad dollars can fund mysteriously lopsided studies and buy off politicians.

    Were you expecting something else?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Wasn't there a write-up on TechDirt about a year ago that established a positive link between video game players and social skills? The non-video game playing kids were the anti-social ones and the loners and the study sounded legitimate.

     

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    Bob, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    No.

    "Can Someone Explain How Video Games Are Worse For Kids Than Plain TV?"

    No. Even discussing it lends credibility to the notion.

     

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  10.  
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    JJ, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    One problem

    The games available today are generally even more inane than childrens' television is. Of course there are exceptions, but not nearly enough... yet.

    I read somewhere (it may well have been here) that historically, movies only came to be treated (by viewers and creators) as a serious art form when the government stopped censoring them. Even today, movies in Europe are less censored than movies here in the US, and on average (I think most people would agree) European films tend to have more artistic value/integrity, and are approached as an art rather than simply as a spectacle.

    Maybe when they stop censoring video games, they'll be elevated to an art as well, and then I'd feel better about letting my (theoretical future) kids play them.

     

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    Anonymous Non-coward, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:52pm

    Why. Because the games can be addicting. Too much of anything is bad.
    I'd hate for my kid to be ACTIVELY killing within context of a video game.

    But I have no kids... so what do I know

     

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    Anonymous Non-coward, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Why. Because the games can be addicting. Too much of anything is bad.
    I'd hate for my kid to be ACTIVELY killing within context of a video game.

    But I have no kids... so what do I know

     

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    AdamBv1 (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Wow

    sounds like you have been reading too much news, i prescribe an hour of gaming to take the stress out.

     

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    Zaven (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Immersion factor

    Maybe the parents should play the game too and figure out there's a pause button.

     

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    Sharon, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:03pm

    for Gods sake, send them out playing some footie in the rain - bet there are no studies to show long term damage caused by some good old fashioned playing with friends (except maybe a few bruises and black eyes from disagreements).
    I think everything in moderation is the message we have to read here, a bit of tv, a bit of gaming, a bit of footie isn't going to damage anyone's intellect. However, both TV and Gaming are detrimental to intellect, literacy, socialising etc if used excessively. Particularly if inappropriately aged material is allowed.

     

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    Valkor, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Immersion factor

    MMOs don't have a pause button, you insensitive clod!

    Of course, MMOs can have the greatest amount of personal interaction and team strategy, too, so YMMV.

     

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    Rob R. (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Wow

    I'd watch Palin TV in a heartbeat.

     

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  18.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Immersion factor

    Sure there is.

    It's called a flying mount in WoW.

    :)

     

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  19.  
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    Rob R. (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re:

    But I have no kids... so what do I know

    Experience will teach you. Kids are GOING to have play warfare. While I do agree that moderation is a good idea - what is the difference if a kid is "actively killing" within context of a video game, or "actively killing" being outside and using a stick as a rifle/sword/grenade/lasergun/whatever? I have 3 kids and they'll use anything to mock a weapon. Guns, swords, or if they have nothing handy they wave their arms around and it's karate or casting magical spells.

    Let them have their imagination and social interaction. Use moderation to vary it and get them to experience new things, but let them play games.

    This does NOT extend to games where they are pimping whores and shooting the police. The line does need to be drawn somewhere, after all.

     

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  20.  
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    Rob R. (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Immersion factor

    Epic flyer, if it's all the same. I prefer 280% to 60% any day, and it's worth 5000g.

    Man, now I have to go play...

     

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  21.  
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    Brian (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Immersion factor

    Not a bad point. I'd wager there's a bit more of an understanding with interrupting TV (on the half hour) than video games (by save point) that'll be an ease of conflict thing. It's a lot easier for a parent to know the kid's "show" and tell them to get away from the TV knowing the schedule.

    Honestly what parents should be doing with this is setting time limits and having those limits be hardlined. As in, daddy's going to turn the Wii off at 7:30pm and if you didn't budget your time right to hit a save point that's tough.

    A friend of mine with a couple younglings doesn't allow TV or video games at all from Sunday at 8pm until Friday when they get home from school. Computer usage for school work is naturally exempt. That might be a little draconian for a teenager, but before that the little squirt should just succumb to your rule ;)

     

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  22.  
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    Cognivore, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Video games are preferable

    But only if they're supervised by the adult to make sure they're not as banal as the majority of TV.

    My son's play Zelda, Advanced Wars, Mario Kart, and about a dozen games I have bought for them. Every one of them is preferable than TV. Heck, even Plants vs. Zombies is better.

     

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  23.  
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    unbrokenrabbit, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Immersion factor

    I don't think that the scenario you've laid out here is a video game problem, it sounds more like a parenting problem. The precious little snowflake has turned into a demon because the parent has allowed him to become one. As I read this post I remembered being in this exact position as a kid. My parents knew next to nothing about video games and had no concept of how badly I would want to finish up a small section of a game as they were calling for me to come to dinner, do chores, etc. But what they did manage to do in years prior was establish the fact that they were to be obeyed when they told me to do something. I didn't enjoy cutting myself off at these critical points, but I quickly learned to do so without much complaining on my part. If things had ever escalated to the point where I was screaming at my parents over something as insignificant as a video game, that would have been, without question, the last video game I was allowed to play. Or at least it would have been until they felt I had gained a little perspective on what is and what is not worth arguing with them about. For them to shy away from maintaining discipline out of fear that their requests would make me angry and lead to a confrontation is completely ridiculous and would have undermined their role of authority as parents. They set the rules, they set the tone, and I operated within that framework until I was able to show that I was capable of making good decisions. Then the rules would get relaxed to give me a little more freedom.

    As to the overall point of the post though, I don't think that there's a whole lot of value in comparing the benefits of TV to the benefits of video games. Like most forms of entertainment, they should each be enjoyed in moderation. Video games probably have a slight edge in benefit due to their interactive nature, but if you're devoting enough time to video games to actually notice this benefit you're probably just spending too much time playing them on the whole. And now that I think about it, I feel like most games that I've played in the last 5 - 10 years are designed to be just challenging enough to maintain the player's interest. They don't really require the player to dig deep intellectually. So there's probably some degree of problem solving to take away from a game, but I don't believe it to be all that significant. That's not based on anything but personal experience (nor is anything else in my response now that I think about it), but I feel that there are much more effective ways of developing problem solving skills.

     

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  24.  
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    unbrokenrabbit, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Immersion factor

    I don't think that the scenario you've laid out here is a video game problem, it sounds more like a parenting problem. The precious little snowflake has turned into a demon because the parent has allowed him to become one. As I read this post I remembered being in this exact position as a kid. My parents knew next to nothing about video games and had no concept of how badly I would want to finish up a small section of a game as they were calling for me to come to dinner, do chores, etc. But what they did manage to do in years prior was establish the fact that they were to be obeyed when they told me to do something. I didn't enjoy cutting myself off at these critical points, but I quickly learned to do so without much complaining on my part. If things had ever escalated to the point where I was screaming at my parents over something as insignificant as a video game, that would have been, without question, the last video game I was allowed to play. Or at least it would have been until they felt I had gained a little perspective on what is and what is not worth arguing with them about. For them to shy away from maintaining discipline out of fear that their requests would make me angry and lead to a confrontation is completely ridiculous and would have undermined their role of authority as parents. They set the rules, they set the tone, and I operated within that framework until I was able to show that I was capable of making good decisions. Then the rules would get relaxed to give me a little more freedom.

    As to the overall point of the post though, I don't think that there's a whole lot of value in comparing the benefits of TV to the benefits of video games. Like most forms of entertainment, they should each be enjoyed in moderation. Video games probably have a slight edge in benefit due to their interactive nature, but if you're devoting enough time to video games to actually notice this benefit you're probably just spending too much time playing them on the whole. And now that I think about it, I feel like most games that I've played in the last 5 - 10 years are designed to be just challenging enough to maintain the player's interest. They don't really require the player to dig deep intellectually. So there's probably some degree of problem solving to take away from a game, but I don't believe it to be all that significant. That's not based on anything but personal experience (nor is anything else in my response now that I think about it), but I feel that there are much more effective ways of developing problem solving skills.

     

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  25.  
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    m3mnoch (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Wow

    omg. that was the funniest thing i have seen all day.

    dark helmet win.

    m3mnoch.

     

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  26.  
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    Joe, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

    Re:

    How did that work out for you?

    I myself wasn't limited in my video game playing as long as I was doing well in school and did all my homework. Granted I was in a sport every season (3 per year) throughout highschool. So I was pretty busy, but I did get a decent amount of gaming in (when i was single) so overall I have no complaints.

    The only limiting thing my parents did was refuse to buy me games that were in the news for being overly explicit, or if I already owned them they would take them away. That was annoying but not the end of the world. (like some kids tend to say in court when they lose their precious halo 3)

     

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  27.  
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    Easily Amused, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 6:36pm

    Re:

    AAUUUUGHHH the suspense... it's killing me....

    right now i look like Dramatic Hamster

     

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  28.  
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    TheStupidOne, Jul 6th, 2009 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Re:

    Success ... he just laughed and said I should think about being a lawyer. Instead I'm an engineer.

    I did get to play my games

     

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  29.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jul 6th, 2009 @ 9:44pm

    800 lb gorilla

    Of course, neither TV nor video games compare with the real corrupting factor: the internet. Your 13-year-old son, with the computer in his room, has looked at more porn than you have in your whole life. If your daughter has a web-cam, her boobs are on someones computer.

    Oh for the good ol' brain-rotting TV days.

     

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  30.  
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    brent (profile), Jul 7th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Immersion factor

    it's soon to be 100% to 280% with the new patch!

     

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  31.  
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    ChrisH, Jul 7th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Screen Time

    In our household our kids have screen time this is the total time in front of any screen (ie computer, DS, video, TV). After they use up their screen time ( they can choose what screens thay want to be in front of) they have to go out and play, have frinds over, play board games, read a book.

     

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  32.  
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    known coward, Jul 7th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    to answer mike's question

    Video games are a hot medium, that requires active participation and therefore desensitizes the little demons to the violence and hell that is super Mario death match. Giving them an invested emotional interest in Yoshi's death. TV is a cool medium that the little demons do not pay as much attention too and are not living the destruction of Aliens or predators, and therefore do not have an emotional connection in stomping the life out of little yoshi.

    I do not buy it, but in my perfect world, professional wrestling would not be on TV and any act that relied on hitting people in the back of the head with a folding chair as entertainment would have the whole lot being arrested and jailed for assault and battery.

     

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    zaven (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Immersion factor

    Can't say I expected to start a WoW feud with my comment. MMO's didn't even occur to me. Then again, I lost 2 years of my life to playing Diablo 2 way back in the day so I try to stay away from them.

     

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  34.  
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    Lady Gaga, Apr 8th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    VG vs. TV

    i play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 at least 1-3 hours a day and im 12. i bought it with my own money and my mom didnt care about it being rated mature. she didnt try to stop me but now she complains ALL THE TIME. sometimes when i wake up the system isnt where it was where i left it. they say video games are worse than tv. does that make sense? its just lights flashing in a box. video games have more interactivity.

    im passing all my classes and i tried out for baseball. they tell me to go to my friends houses but they live to far away to walk or bike. they tell me to get their phone # but i dont have a cell phone to call/text them.

     

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  35.  
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    Juan, Aug 29th, 2010 @ 10:08pm

    All you need to know and then some

    I know why. Parents have been growing up with tv (unless they dont watch it much or are old and/or poor ). They don understand that video games are actuley better than tv. some also think that they teach there "litle sweety pie" violent behavior but so does tv! violenc can be easily avoided with video games just like a V chip in a tv. its as easy as looking at the ratings on the box. on most games, they have a rating printed. here are the ratings: 1-EC (early childhood) this is a edicational game created for ages 3-5. E (everyone) these games contain maybe minor cartoon violence but nothing bad. they are recomended for ages 6-10. E+10 (everybody ten and up) this has the same content as E but with more graphic violence and very, very low cussing (hell, damn) T (Teen) these games show minor blood effects, violence, cussing (words like hell,damn, and ass) and are recommended for ages 12-14. M (mature) these games contain blood, gore, strong language(hell, damn ass, fuck, shit, etc.), and partial nudity(nothing like extreme nude things) these are recommended for ages 15-18. last is the mother of all messes, Rated AO (adults only) this contains all the content rated M has but with full nudity. only (not recommended, but for ONLY) for ages 18 and up. (respect you state pornogrophy laws) anyways... video games are better than tv because they teach hand- eye cordination and awareness. some games are even teach what you would hear in a classroom!(educational games brain age, brain-busters, mad libs ds, etc.

     

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  36.  
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    Sam allen, Dec 16th, 2012 @ 7:15pm

    Personnaly i play video games because it is my escape. I play to forget the jerks in life, or the stress at school. Without it i would break, i eventually would just break down. I also like the social aspect of talking to my friends over xbox live. I only enjoy playing when im talking to my friends.

     

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