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Home Health First Aid Effects of Video Games on Children

Effects of Video Games on Children

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Can Children Learn to Use their Imagination with Video Games?

"When I was a little girl, we used to know how to use our imaginations." How many times have you uttered these words to your children as they sit there complaining that they're bored with nothing to do because the power's gone off? The technical advances of today are remarkable, and we as adults do appreciate how much easier our lives are because of online banking, mobile phones and navigational car devices!  Children have access to an even wider array of technological toys, so many parents are concerned about the effects of video games on children.

Keeping Imagination Alive and Active

Imagine a family vacation trip in the car without the kids glued to their favorite movie playing on the electronic device, an in-car portable DVD player. But honestly; there is a sad trend that's sweeping the western world in particular as our children find it very difficult to come up with some creative imaginative games that don't require electricity or technology to play!

In most modern homes today there is at least one electronic gaming device; and often even two or three different ones. So many kids have the latest versions of these modern gadgets.  Yet they still complain that they are bored once they have maxed out all of the levels on their video games.

What should you do when your children no longer want to play creative games of the old fashioned variety? You remember: board-games, sports, swimming, dancing and don't forget cowboys and the basic little girl's tea party! Sadly many children are no longer using their imaginations.  The statistics are in and there is concern that many children are demonstrating characteristics of addiction to playing electronic video games, interacting on the computer and watching television.

Children are born with a natural curiosity.  Joseph Chilton Pearce calls it "The Magical Child".  Much in society has evolved to dispel that magical imagination.  The education system prioritizes abilities that do not reward imagination so much as technical skill and factual knowledge.  This makes it even more important for parents to step up and commit to nurturing the "magic" in their childrens cognitive lives.

Remember the time when your baby turned his/her head toward the brightly colored mobiles that hung from the crib?  The objects not only looked dazzling to the infant, but sounded interesting when they moved in the breeze. This resulted in a response beautiful to behold at this tender age, and believe it or not nothing much has changed now that the child is older.  They can still be dazzled, if you give them the experiences they will do the experiencing and ultimately, the learning.

The effects of video games on children do not have to be all negative.  Many games can actually inspire children to think of imaginary worlds and to develop creative problem solving abilities.  For a parent, it is all about helping your children choose the most productive games. A huge key to keeping imagination alive and addiction to electronics at bay is to be an involved parent.

Playing the electronic games with them so that you can extend the characters and situations from video games to teach real life principles, asking questions like, "What would Mario do in this situation, jump or climb?"

The world of creative play is what makes a child's world exciting. Young children love to explore, and often jump straight into creative play with both feet.  Kids are able to thoroughly immerse themselves in a world of make believe and fantasy. It is both interesting and a great deal of fun to listen and watch as children play make believe. You will hear them chatter away endlessly to imaginary friends and watch in awe as they create imaginative games filled with adventure and excitement. So what happens? Where does all of this wonder and imagination that all children possess go to?

Luckily, even with the video game or television addicted child, the truth is that all of our child's imagination is still there. You just have to encourage them and give them positive reinforcement when you catch them using what they have.

Turn off the screen; be it a computer, the television set or a portable viewing device once in awhile, but don't separate the online and real worlds of imagination -- help them integrate the two. Rather than disparage one as being good for them and one as being bad, separate them by time, and have regular screen-free times in your home.  Not just a time to do homework instead, but a time to interact as a family at play.  Kids will emulate you and your enthusiasm.  But a child left alone with the option of a book and a Game Boy will likely turn to the device.

What's the best way to get kids to play imaginatively, and minimize the isolating and negative effects of video games on children?  Be a kid yourself, and learn what it is like to be a kid in the modern world.  Then choose to bridge the gap and show them how you used to have fun! For you, it may have been coloring books that inspired your imagination. For today's children the electronic world can be used to advantage to help build their real life imaginations.

Head outdoors immediately after watching Dora the Explorer with your little ones.  Fill the backpack with water and snacks and create your own map as you hike to the local park.  Comment about what you think a particular cloud looks like. You get the idea.  Let them find their own associations.  Perhaps they will look at you like you've lost your mind.  And perhaps they will realize that going out of our heads and into the real world can sometimes be the best fun they've had all day. Persist, tomorrow perhaps, they'll be looking up at the "real" clouds and pointing them out to YOU!

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