Diving Into a New Paradigm This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 13, 2013
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Right now, children across the country are sitting at a computer, talking to other people they don’t know, and have never met. Their eyes are almost to the point of bleeding, because they have been staring at the computer screen for an average two and a half hours, basically without blinking. Teenagers in today’s society spend over a month per year staring at their computer screens, off in a virtual world, ignoring the real one. It is time to defy the old ways of virtual worlds and dive into a new paradigm.

How long do teenagers really spend on video games? According to journalist Ronald Davis, children who play World of Warcraft (also known as WoW) spend “2.5 hours per day on average (equivalent to 38 days of continuous playing per year)” playing on the computer. This means that children are playing more than one month of video games per year. With constant play of these games, it can lead to many negative physical, behavioral, and psychosocial problems.

Looking into the physical issues, there has been an increase of obesity for young people who play video games. According to journalist Ronald Davis, in a study of children, there has been “nearly a twofold increased risk for obesity per hour per day spent playing electronic games.” This means that children who play hours upon hours of video games are at larger risk for being obese than anyone else. Sitting at the computer or in front of the TV is not healthy because they do not get any physical movement besides in their fingers.

Not only does research link to gaming, but there are other health issues as well. According to the Better Health Channel, gaming can, “cause overuse injuries in the hand.” The problems that can occur from playing an excess of video games can range from carpal tunnel to arthritis. Doctor Yazici stated that the reason these problems occur is because “their musculoskeletal systems aren’t developed.” Children who play excess of video games, have a chance to mess up their bones and their development causing health problems to occur at young ages. If these children mess up the development of their skeleton, they will have to live with the problems for the rest of their lives.

Gamer’s hands are not all that is affected, but according to Better Health Channel, children are also at risk for, “joint problems such as back and neck pain and headaches.” Since kids are sitting in front of the TV screen for hours at a time, they tend to slouch, causing them to receive back problems and horrible posture. These issues they are creating for themselves now, will stay with them for their entire life if the problem is not stopped.

Apart from the physical problems caused by video games, there are also many behavioral problems. According to Ronald Davis, “exposure to violent media increases aggressive cognition.” These poor children who are exposed to violence through the games, are now acting more aggressively in person toward others. The violence seen in video games repeatedly causes the brain to recognize that in real life situations, violence is the answer to their problems.

Is violence the only problem caused by video games? According to journalist Gwen Dewar, “When it comes to paying attention in the classroom, ‘high volume’ gamers seem to have more trouble.” These children are loosing their ability to learn effectively because their brain resembles those who “have less ‘proactive control’.” Video games are causing an epidemic throughout the country, ruining the brains of “high volume” gamers.

Another problem, found from research in children who play video games, is psychosocial. According to journalist Ronald Davis, people play video games as a way to “escape the harsh reality” found in the real world. These children and teenagers play video games as a way of relieving themselves from the real world and all its problems. To an extent this may be okay, but an overload of video games can cause them to become socially reclusive. If this young generation continues to ignore the real world, they will be socially awkward for the rest of their life. Social skills are an important part of life, from answering questions for an interview to giving a presentation in front of a company. If these children continue to avoid the real world, they will have abundant social issues when they have to face the world of business when they are older.

How do my peers at W.P. Murray High School view this growing issue? After conducting a survey about students’ views on video games, my research concluded that 76% of students agreed with the statement, “video games are harmful to children”. This statistic shows that my peers, too, agree that children are receiving harmed by video games.
A few W.P. Murray High School students gave their opinions on video games and their effect on children. A quote from Ashley Hatfield, “Video games have become an unhealthy addiction to children these days.” My peers from WPHS can see the problem growing around them as well. Although there is no actual name for this addiction, it is said to be a growing problem that scientists may now have to give a name too. Another anonymous student stated, “video games make children forget how to use their imagination.” These students understand that there are other problems out side of “no exercise” and “hand injuries”. The enormous problems that are caused by avid gamers tend to affect the brain and its use more than anything else.

Other countries have started detoxing children from video games. According to journalist Sherry Rauh, they saw “gaming was taking over the lives of kids.” But they didn’t just let the games win; they started taking steps toward helping the problem. As their way of fixing the problem, just like one would detox someone from drugs or alcohol, children are now being detoxed from their video games. This detox is not taking place in America, but over in the Netherlands. Therefore; if other countries can come up with a way to help their younger generations, America should too.

Video games are causing problems in America’s children. Everything from defected bone development to aggressive behavior is being seen in avid gamers. If other countries are taking action against this problem, why cant we? Let us begin to defy the old ways of virtual worlds, and dive into our newfound paradigm.

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