Too much gaming makes kids obese, aggressive, violent: Survey

Children video gaming
New Delhi, Jul 18: Excessively playing video games can generate a greater risk of obesity, aggressive and violent behaviour in children and teenagers, finds a new survey.

The recent survey by Assocham reveals that over 82 percent of teenagers spend an average of 14-16 hours per week playing games on computer, web portal or consoles and about 7 percent of children surveyed qualified as being pathological video gamers (over 20 hours per week).

Gaming is taking away time that could be spend on activities that have educational benefits. Compulsive gamers display signs of diminished empathy, increased aggression and conflicts at home, school and work. It could also create problems and lead to poor social skills.

Rising addiction to video games include easy availability of resources and absence of quality parental care reveals the survey conducted under Assocham's Social Development Foundation (SDF).

Over 2,000 teenagers and 1,000 parents' were interviewed by Assocham-SDF during April 2011 to June 2011 in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Patna, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Jaipur.

The sample included almost an equal number of males and females in the age group of 8-18 years.

About 84 percent(ages 8 to 18) of children said that they play violent games when they're alone than with their parents. 76% prefer to play action game and 45% of gamers who shows signs similar to addiction are also more likely to have a video game system in their bedroom.

A total of 1200 teens (76 percent) played video games. 20 percent of the gamers were girls and female gamers were found to spend an average of 30 minutes playing on the weekdays and one hour playing on the weekends. Male gamers spend an average of 50 minutes playing on the weekdays and two-three hours playing on the weekends.

Gamers who are going to school account for 72 percent and college students at 28 percent. More than half of participants said they played daily, 36 percent play weekly and 18% play 3-4 times a week. Only 36% admitted that they have addictive
behaviors and cannot control themselves when they play. 64% responded said that online game makes them feel good and distressed.

The survey also disclosed that over 90 percent of kids between 8-14 years old go online to play games with Facebook being quoted as their favorite websites.

The social networking games are probably a big part of their gaming habits. Above 80 percent of parents say that videogames are getting worse day by day and some games connect to the internet, which can allow children and adolescents to play online with unknown adults and peers.

"Getting highly involved with video games can become addicting, and parents need to be cautious about how many hours kids play," says Dr B K Rao, Chairman Assocham health committee and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Dr. Rao further said that there are concerns about the effect of violent video games on young minds who play videogames excessively.

He also added that children who are exposed to violence can become "immune" or numb due to the horror of violence, imitate the violence they see, and show more aggressive behaviour with greater are exposure to violence.

"Some children accept violence as a way to handle problems. So the repeated exposure to violence, the greater is the impact on children," he says.

The survey also revealed that 23 percent of teenager feel "addicted to video games", with about one-third of males (26 percent) and a little more than one in ten females (11 percent) feeling "addicted."

On the other hand 44 percent of teenager said that their friends are addicted to games. 30 percent of parents say they always or sometimes know what games their children play. 12 percent say they always or sometimes check the ratings before their children are allowed to play a game.

9 percent of parents say they always or sometimes stop their kids from playing a game 6 percent of parents say they always or sometimes play games with their children.

Parents of teens who play games are generally neutral on the effect of games on their children, with nearly two-thirds believing that games have no impact one way or the other on their offspring.

62 percent of parents say that video games have no effect on their child one way or the other. 19 percent of parents say that video games have a positive influence on their child. 13 percent of parents say video games have a negative influence on their child.

5 percent of parents say gaming has some negative influence/some positive influence, but it depends on the game. The average 8 to 12 year-old plays 10-12 hours of video games per week, while the average 13 to 18 year old plays 14-16 hours of video games per week.

Younger teen boys are the most likely to play games, followed by younger girls and older boys. The most popular games played by teens today span a variety of genres and ratings.

The five most popular are Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution. These games include rhythm games (Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution), puzzle/card games (Solitaire), sports games (Madden), and first-person shooter games (Halo).

For most teens, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their overall social experience. Teen"s ages 12-18 like to play: 82 percent of teens play on a console like the Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii. 71 percent play games on a desktop or a laptop computer.61 percent use a portable gaming device like a Sony PlayStation Portable or a Game Boy.

58 percent use a cell phone or handheld organiser to play games. Rao further added that time spent playing is less important than the effect that gaming is having on the child.

"Video games can lead to poorer school performance due to the time spent on gaming," he says.


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