The Good, the Bad and the Screen

Scholarly Critique #5

Throughout much of the reading in INTE 5320, the benefits of video games have been examined with little to no attention paid to the detrimental effects games can have.  With this in mind, I sought out an article with a more non-biased approach to the pros and cons of video games.  Growing up, in the 80s and 90s, there was the mantra that video games would ruin your eyes and rot your brain.  Recent research, seemed to contradict these claims.  Sara Prot, et. al. in her chapter “The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Game Play” taken from the book, Media and the Well-Being of Children and Adolescents presents a more non-biased approach to the effects of video games.

Prot uses meta-analyses to examine both positives and negatives of video games on youths.  While a significant portion of the text is focused on aggression instigated by violent video games and an increase in attention deficit for serious gamers, the chapter does take into account positives such as mental processing and visual spatial coordination.  The final conclusion is still nebulous.  Prot comments that significant additional research is still needed on all fronts in regards to the effects video games have on participants, but it will always be impossible to designate gaming as strictly good or bad due to the complexity and variations in video games.

Aggressive tendencies being born out of violent pathological gaming is a strongly rooted social concern amongst non-gamers and skeptics and is one of the foundational anti-gaming tenets.  To counter this sociological downfall in gaming, Prot also examined the social effects of prosocial video games.  Prosocial games consist of gaming contexts that encourage players to help other characters as opposed to killing characters in more violent games.  These prosocial games increased empathy and a more congenial approach in the participants.  It can be assumed that gamers assume identities from the games they immerse themselves in much the same way that people adopt traits from the people they surround themselves with.

Considering the risk or video game addiction and the chapter’s detailed analysis of consequences on schooling: poor grades, inability to focus, apathy, etc., the question begs to be asked how parents will respond to an influx of video games in the classroom.  Although benefits are associated with using video games for educational purposes, there are still dramatic adverse consequences associated with over gaming.  With screen time on the dramatic rise, it will be interesting to see if parents draw the line or embrace further escalating the amount of time in front of screens in the name of educational pursuits.

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