Villainizing video games: are we rushing to judgment?

Haylen Jackson

More than 214 million people in the United States play video games, and 75% of all households have at least one person who plays them. With this hobby being so prevalent in the United States, it invites the question: is playing video games bad?
Video games can help improve hand-eye coordination, the ability to process information faster, decision making, and attention span length. It also helps with problem solving skills and the use of logic, especially when playing puzzle and strategy games. Playing multiplayer games can even increase the ability to work with people.
Players can also learn from video games. For example, games like Wordscapes, Tetris, 2048 or Big Brain Academy can help with problem solving and completing puzzles. A variety of educational games exist, including Portal, a well-known puzzle-solving game, and Myst, a video game trilogy about mystery and problem solving.
Video games can be beneficial as long as they aren’t played for an excess of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that people shouldn’t have more than 2 hours of screen-based entertainment a day. Playing video games too much can lead to addiction, and just like drug addictions, sudden termination of the activity can cause withdrawals. Prolonged and intense use of video games can also make people lose interest in other activities.
For sophomore Taite Meggitt, time boundaries help him keep a healthy relationship with gaming.
“Two hours, I feel, is a good time. Any more could be harmful to your body and could hurt your legs. It can also just be bad for your eyes,” Meggitt said.
Meanwhile, a large argument against video games is the violence they may cause. Video games like Doom or Mortal Kombat are stated to increase aggressive thoughts and behavior. These games may increase aggression because they contain guns and violent activities. However, Meggitt disagrees with this idea.
“I feel they don’t increase aggressive thoughts and behavior, because I’ve played a lot worse and seen a lot worse. It doesn’t make people violent like websites state,” Meggitt said.
Many activities have pros and cons, and video games are no different. It is important to remember the amount of time spent playing games determines the severity of negative effects. As long as people play games for a regulated amount of time, all of their cons can be decreased, if not avoided at all. Limiting playtime can even increase the pros of video games. So, are they bad? Not necessarily. Although video games can bring many negative side effects, these can be avoided by restricting the amount of time spent on the activity.