Effects Of Video Games On Kids
Andrew S. Bub is The GamerDad! According to the Associated Press, he is the #1 independent expert on the issue of videogame violence and children. He encourages parents to get involved and play games with their kids. GamerDad.com is a blog where parents can ask questions, participate in discussions and learn about games that GamerDad's readers are playing. Quoted newspapers and magazines include The New York Times, London Times, USA Today, Family Fun, iVillage, Family Circle and more. He was the Keynote speaker at the American Library Association's ‘08 Tech Conference. Andrew has two kids (7 and 10) and a lovely wife.
1. What is your view on video games?
I think video games are not meaningfully different, better or worse, than other media. They at least require concentration and some can teach meaningful lessons. They're fun, kids like them, and they aren't going away, so a parent's job is simply to pay attention.
2. What common misconceptions do you think parents have about video games?
When kids play they often get that "slack jaw" look. That's concentration, not becoming a zombie. Video games require constant thinking and paying attention. Another misconception is that video games are addictive. There's no chemical addiction, they are simply fun; like a book you don't want to put down. A final misconception is that they're all violent or about killing. There are plenty that aren't violent and even the gory ones are more about challenge and surviving. It isn't "Kill, Kill!" that most kids are thinking. It's "Survive, Survive!"
3. What effects of video games do you think are positive on kids?
They tend to be hard and challenging, so they teach kids to not give up. Often they require quick thinking, imaginative problem solving, hand/eye co-ordination and reaction time. They are also good bonding tools.
4. What types of video games would you recommend kids just starting school?
Almost anything Mario or movement, Wii, related. Kids usually want to go for the violent stuff right away, instead stick to the less violent, the exercise or music games and the cute stuff.
5. What are the negative effects of violent video games?
They take up a lot of time and kids can get too invested in them. They can be frustrating, that's what encourages aggression more than anything else. I think they can also desensitize kids - but not to real violence, to fake violence. I've met hundreds of the hardest of the hardcore gaming teens and none of them wants to see my quadruple bypass chest scar or any of the horror stories associated with it. The violence is mainly there for the same reason roller coasters go fast; it adds to the thrill. If you think violent game players want to actually experience violence, then you must also think roller coaster riders actually want to crash.
6. What do you think of the present suitability ratings attributed to video games? Do you think they’re accurate or out of touch with reality?
Out of touch, but not in the way you might think. They are actually TOO conservative. The average PG-13 movie contains violence and sexuality that even mature rated games don't show. This isn't a bad thing, but I find a lot of parents would like to get their kids what they want. They come to me to learn if a game "isn't so bad" more than they come to learn "is it too offensive."
7. What attributes do you focus on when you are reviewing video games?
Mainly how fun and well-made it is. I look for quality, because these things are pricey! With GamerDad I also pioneered the concept of a "Kid Factor" where I, without judgment, simply list offensive things that are in the game. I don't do this so much anymore because other sites with more money are doing a fine job of it now. Now I mainly just blog and start conversations about games and kids.
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