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The Pros and Cons of Video Games

CLE Students Talk Gaming

by Brigitte Cooper, CLE Denver

The pros and cons of video games and their impact on social development.Parents, have you ever walked in while your child was playing a video game and thought, “They are just wasting brain cells?” Students, as gamers have you ever thought, “I just have to make it past this level,” and refused to give up until you beat it? Are there arguments for both of these scenarios being reasonable? We are going to look further into the world of gaming.

I asked Asger, a student at CLE Denver, why he games. He said, “I do it to escape reality. It’s a getaway. I also enjoy the social aspects of it.” When I asked Asger how games are social to him, he explained he prefers playing video games with others. Asger can often be found in his apartment with friends playing a number of consoles. Asger is a student that is considered to cultivate community between his peers. Gaming is another platform in which he brings people together.

Tyler told me that he got into gaming as a distraction from a breakup. Until then, he had not put a lot of time into gaming. Tyler shared with me a statistic I had already found while researching the effects of video games:

Super MarioGaming helps resolve grey level, which in turn makes for better drivers, especially in foggy weather. Despite common beliefs, playing action video games helps with eyesight, enables people to have greater attention to detail, faster reaction times, and improves hand-eye coordination.
(Daphne Bavelier, Ph.D. Your Brain on Video Games).

Jane McGonigal, a game designer that works with Institute for the Future, states that gaming inspires optimism and the belief that someone can succeed by putting a goal within reach. It assists in building trust as you rely on others to help complete a mission. Gaming inspires collaboration through team effort. Gamers feel productive because they are working hard to achieve something within that world. Lastly, McGonigal argues this cultivates people who will stick with a problem and try again, even after failing (Jane McGonigal Ph.D., Gaming Can Make A Better World).

Video games, and social interaction

Nordic Co-operation website (norden.org)

Mason shared with me about his love of gaming. He believes people have a “misconception of gaming.” He explained that when he was younger, he didn’t feel like he fit in. Gaming gave him a sense of belonging, as well as community. “Some of my closest friends are from the game world, we hang out in real life.” Mason explained that over the years, his gaming network brought him friends. “I’m very social. I don’t play computer games alone; I find that boring and I hate it.” He went more in depth about his relationships. “We Skype and talk about things other than games. You should hear us talking about politics, it’s terrible.”

Mason initially got into playing games because it was a challenge, and as entertainment. He found that as he got older, the challenge is what kept him coming back. He also found people with the same interests. Mason discussed how it was difficult when he was younger, because he would be excited about an achievement in a game. His parents did not see this as a big deal, but to him it was a huge accomplishment. Later on, his parents understood the importance of gaming in his life. “They don’t love it, but they respect that it plays an important role in my life.” He is thankful that his mom used to take him to table top games; this led to social interactions with people both younger and older than him. “If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s hard to talk to people. Gaming is a great place for those people to find a community.”

What else does Mason want people to know about gaming? “Can it be addicting? Sure. I have had those moments in my life, but I am an extremist in a lot of areas, not just about games. I can read a book all day, or play table top games all day.” Mason states that a person has to ask themselves if they are gaming too much, and parents can ask this about their children as well. But he wants to point out that there is an outlying problem. “Why are they gaming too much? It’s like any addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or games. There’s a reason.”

Is it possible that games can be bad for you?

Can video games be bad for you?The behaviors some gamers can develop are a potential problem. A poor diet, lack of exercise, or shutting off the world around them can be an issue. It is true that video game addiction does exist. Like any other addict, this can be described as a person who needs more of a substance to keep them going, and if is not received, the person can become irritable and miserable (Michael Brody, MD, WebMD). There’s a psychological component to the addiction, knowing ‘I can escape or feel good about my life.’ (Kimberly Young, PsyD). Jane McGonigal points out that the problem with gaming to some is it is so satisfying to be on the verge of an epic win, they spend all their time gaming. It’s better than reality (Gaming Can Make a Better World).

There are known benefits for playing video games, including social aspects like collaboration and helping to create people who become problem solvers. However, the dangers of gaming lie in the addiction of games at the cost of reality and neglecting health and well being. Like most things in life, when used in moderation, video games can have many positive benefits.

Citations:

Daphne Bavelier, Ph.D., Your Brain On Video Games
Jane McGonigal Ph.D., Gaming Can Make a Better World
Michael Brody, MD & Kimberly Young, PsyD, Video Game Addiction, MedMD
Phil Toledano, Gamers Mrtoledano.com

Newsletter Articles – February 2016

Joan Green

Joan Green is a licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist, and founder of Innovative Speech Therapy. She is a nationally recognized expert on assistive technology and author of several books, including The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education: Resources for Education, Intervention and Rehabilitation, 2nd Edition. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of assistive technology and new developments in the field with Joan.

Video games can teach social skills

Like it or not, the appearance and methodology of socialization are changing in our kids and young adults. As technology becomes a greater part of our everyday lives, it makes sense that our everyday practices may be influenced both negatively and positively by its tremendous pull. Video games were first popularized when I was a young child; however, they were an activity that was by and large used in free time while parents encouraged their children to engage in more “constructive activities,” such as social play.

These days, gaming is more intricately entwined with socialization. All “next generation” systems have modalities to play remotely with other users, game publishers are taking advantage of social gaming by publishing more games that give clear advantages to people who play with others, and more group-based games are being published. The boundary between socialization and gaming is becoming less and less clear, and we as professionals and parents need to evolve along with technology if we truly want to impact students on the autism spectrum or with other special needs in a positive way.

Joshua Ruiz of CLE Davie

Assistive Technology is changing the world for individuals with special or diverse needs. With advanced technology vastly improving, individuals-including neurotypicals-use this modern, advanced technology for everyday tasks such as phone calls, messaging, email, Facebook, and Twitter. But some individuals with disabilities have a hard time using technology. One of my friends, Abel, has cerebral palsy and he is not able to communicate or move at all. He uses a special device that has a button on the head of his chair. When he moves his head he is able to communicate with others but it is also difficult for him to use this equipment. He uses all of his effort to control this system, which is incredible.

Savannah at CLE Costa Mesa

Assistive technology is a tool used by many individuals in the world, which has an astounding amount of advantages to the support it provides. Not only does this technology serve useful to the general public, but especially the autism spectrum population. It allows individuals on the spectrum to communicate with those around them by assisting them in their communication and socialization skills. It also helps with many executive functioning aspects such as organizing, planning, problem solving, etc. Assistive technology is truly an amazing platform that serves multiple purposes throughout people’s lives.

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.