Every parent is concerned with the healthy growth of their children both physically and mentally in an encouraging way, motivating them in the right path to help them build up a successful career ahead in the future. In order to achieve this, parents should be in a position to provide proper guidance to their children in each and every stage of their life cycle. Childhood is the molding point in every person's life. It is the most delicate phase where every activity that has been carried out even for a short span of time has a long lasting effect on a person's behavior.
Parents in today's world are more concerned about the long lasting impact of computer games, video games on their children as the children of this generation are mostly attracted and fascinated about the computer and video gaming technology. This technology is mainly based on a communicating device used between the user interface and video display unit to generate visual effects. The home video game industry is now over 30 years old. The advent of computer and video games was evidently recognized in the 1980s when there was a nationwide drive to get computers into the classrooms. In the following years, many researchers have found that educational software and games can indeed have several positive effects on children's academic skills. This developing technology improves the player's manual skills and computer knowledge, fastens the eye-hand coordination and also provides the players a realistic experience of playing virtually through graphical techniques. These games can also be helpful in developing the mathematical skills in children. Since for every game the kid tries to reach the next level, he/she will eagerly count the score that had been earned. In this way, even a kid who hasn't had a good interest in mathematics can be able to improve his/her mathematical skills. (Pediatrics for Parents, Inc., 2004)
Apart from these positive effects, they also have some negative impacts on children. Numerous researches focused on these negative impacts of video games on children found that they are so seductive that they stimulate the sensory portions of children's brain. They also found the unpleasant effect of aggressive behavior of different characters in a game on children, especially with the violent games. The extent of time children spend on video games also plays an important role to increase the aggressive behavior among children. Spending most of the time on video games and computer games tends the children to go through a personality transformation and emerges them into nearly an otherworldly state. ( Expedient InfoMedia, 2008)
In addition to this aggressive behavior, the use of video games by children for a longer period of time tend to desensitize them to violence, decline in progress at school, argue with their parents, teachers, and others, decrease in attention span, fight with their peers and indulge in many kinds of violent acts.
Children started playing video games for increasing periods of time, and the games themselves have become more and more graphically violent over time, which has left the parents in a feeble situation of not knowing what to do. So, there always exists a need to understand the view of parents belonging to different communities about the existing situations and also know their level of awareness on the remedies that have to be followed to protect their children from these threats.
Aim of this research is to explore the extent of awareness of parents on the impacts of playing computer and video games on their children.
Perform a planned Study on the existing literature.
Selection of suitable methods to carry out the proposed research.
Design of questionnaires and interviews with parents
Selection of parents from different communities, providing the justification to this selection.
Carry out the proposed research using the properly designed questionnaires and interviews on the selected groups of parents.
Analyze the findings of the research carried out, with reference to the existing literature.
Come to a conclusion regarding the awareness of parents on the impact of playing computer and video games on their children.
To what extent are the parents aware of the potential impacts of playing computer and video games on their children?
Playing computer and video games is not limited only to adolescent boys or any particular group. Almost every one of different age groups play games including children. The amount of time spent on playing computer and video games is increasing day by day. These games are turning out to be the innate teachers for those who find a great pleasure and interest in playing them. Mostly children find them highly motivating, by virtue of their interactive nature and the graphics displayed, which makes them actively engaged with these gaming devices. Some Video games have been designed to teach children healthy skills for their self-care and have been successful at imparting the attitudes, skills, and behaviors that they were designed to teach. With the help of games people can also learn iconic, spatial, and visual attention skills. These facts make it likely that video games could have large effects, some of which are intended by game designers, and some of which may not be intended. These computer and video games have several positive effects and unsurprisingly also has many negative effects.
The negative effects of these games include both the physical as well as the behavioral effects on children. The effects concerned with physical health are obesity, video-induced seizures, postural disorders, muscular disorders and skeletal disorders, such as tendonitis, nerve compression, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The behavioral effects can be like the degradation of academic performances due to the increase in the amount of time spent on playing games. And moreover playing violent games leads to an increased physiological arousal, increased aggression and decreased social serving.
It is a general and a well known fact that children learn by watching things. Even if children know these graphic games are not for real, it still has an impact on them in contrast with the reality. Children playing violent games exhibit measurable decreases in pro-social and helping behaviors and increases in aggressive thoughts and violent retaliation to provocation. Through playing these games, they act behaviorally abnormal due to the extensive exposures to the violent scripts causing increased feelings of hostility, expectations that others will behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of others and increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence. These violently designed computer and video games teach children that violence in the society is good and support that by awarding the players with points for their violent acts on the opponents. These effects are doubled even more when there is an addiction of children with these games. This issue has become a major threat to the society in view of many parent communities for the healthy growth of a child.
So there is a need to know whether parents are really aware of the existing situations in the society, if yes then to what extent? And what kind of care they need to take about their children to protect them from this coercion. Because at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the parents to look after their children without getting them exposed much to these effects. So in my opinion, the outputs of this proposed research would help several parents from different communities to have a better understanding on different aspects of the newly developing technology which create many obstacles in the welfare and growth of children and also helps them to focus on the remedies they need to follow, the care they need to take to avoid this from happening.
Overview of Relevant Literature
There are many research papers, web publications and much amount of literature works found about the proposed topic "Impacts of playing computer and video games on children" ,which have been published since years and very recently too.
All this literature work suggests us with a sufficient amount of statistics depicting the growth of the field of computer and video games, the advantages or the positive effects of games and the issues faced by children and people of different age groups by the negative impacts of a particular genre of games due to the increase in the addiction of youth to gaming.
INTRODUCTION TO GAMING:
The video game industry is now over 30 years old. In that time, computer technology has improved at a promising rate. The eminence of computers and video games was clearly recognized in the 1980s. The arrival of 'Space Invaders' in 1979 saw computer games become renowned to a mass audience. By 1981, no game has subjugated the field as many new games have emerged into the market, till the Space Invaders became outmoded. The mounting fame of computer games inspired a certain amount of research attention in their effects. While, there was an instant where the market got overcrowded with tons of games and the public had lost their interest in buying them. In the late 1980's, the arrival of the Japanese Nintendo system had started the sales to rise. "In 1991, the Economist Intelligence Unit noted that UK sales of console games connected to televisions increased by 200 per cent and sales of hand held games had risen by 700 percent." Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate (2001) (Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, 2001).
According to the Research studies that have been carried out in this field have proven that among elementary and middle-school populations, girls play computer and video games for an average of about 5.5 hours/week and boys play on an average of 13 hours/week. This shows the discrimination of gender towards game playing. Some time ago it was also reported by the Wall Street Journal that several companies have now started designing video game consoles for preschoolers.
It was also found out in the research studies that over 10 percent of parents do not check the ratings on the computer or video games that their children buy or rent. According to the studies, in a poll conducted among the children in grades four to eight for their favorite games 33 most popular video games have been marked out as selections and out of the 33 games, 21 percent of them featured violence against women, and illegal violent acts against other forces. It is also important to note that the computer and video game industry is earning billion worth of sales across the world each year out of which the most popular video games making the video game manufacturers the most money prove to be the ones containing violent acts. (Associated Press, 2007) (Time International (Canada Edition), 2005).
Studies have also proven that youth of adolescent age group have their brain functions altered as a result of playing violent games. After playing a violent video game for just 30 minutes, they tend to experience an increased activity in the part of the brain involved with the emotional arousal and also a decreased activity associated with self control in the part of the brain. This study proves to be prominent in establishing a link between the activities of brain and the type of games children play. While these facts extracted from different studies do not produce conclusive evidence that violent computer or video games generate violent behaviors in children, but it definitely opens up the potential for an in depth research in the proposed field of study.
Different studies quote that violent computer and video games are a distinct threat to children, because they provoke children to an aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares and fears of being harmed by others. And moreover, the games that allow the player directly to initiate any violent and devastating acts prove to be even more of a threat to the healthy and civilized growth of a child. It was quoted that there is an increase of about 13 to 22 percent of adolescent population that has been observed to exhibit violent behaviors, at instants, who are indulged in playing violent video games. Studies have proven that computer and video games can be addictive. This fact adds to the issue by signifying that not only will children be playing violent games, but they will also be exposed to the violent acts and scenarios for long periods of time. Repetition of these acts may be within the games but in reality it increases the negative effects externally on the children playing violent games. (LoveToKnow Corp., 2007)
All the above facts and statistics are derived from the literature extracted out of many research based studies that have been carried from many years. This whole set of information is collected by observing and studying the general behavior of children playing games and with the help of this data I will carry out a research on different groups of parents whose children are addicted to gaming, or moderately interested in gaming. So that the collected opinions and views of different parents can be used for reforming a generalized study on the role of parents in the behavior and health aspects of children, which I feel would be helpful to support the study of awareness of parents on the potential impacts of playing computer and video games on their children.
A consideration of competing approaches, and a selection, explanation and justification of one approach
To carry out a primary research on different groups of parents on the proposed field of study for the purpose of deriving an answer for the my research question, a perfectly planned approach is to be followed so that the quality of the information gathered from the sources would be good enough to propose a materialistic methodology and conclusion for the topic.
For achieving this I would select a qualitative research method of implementing Questionnaires and Personal Interviews with the parents for carrying out my research. The main reason behind selection of this approach is the quality of the information to be collected. A questionnaire approach is always helpful in aiming the focus of our subject on to the key points of field of study. If we wish to collect the responses of a group of individuals on a particular issue then this approach gives us an opportunity to design a questionnaire in such a way that the focus of each and every individual in the group is restricted only to that issue so that the quality of the information gathered to a great extent is relevant to that issue only.
And a face to face interview is even a better approach to improvise the information quality. This approach gives us an opportunity to explore the knowledge of an individual or a group on an issue to the fullest. It always benefits us to gain a rich quantity of information by building up a comfortable and friendly conversation with people, exploring in depths into the heart of a topic selected. It also gives a chance to gain some additional information on the directly provided responses for an issue through studying the body language, gestures and postures of different individuals.
Using these two approaches I would carry out my research by designing a questionnaire meeting the minimum requirements related to the awareness of parents about the game playing activities of their children and some interviews with different groups of parents with a predefined set of basic questions that are helpful to understand the fundamental impacts of playing games, both positive and negative, on their children and for my future study.
An outline research design
I will design a well structured and formatted questionnaire such that all the important points related to the awareness of parents on the impacts of playing computer and video games are thoroughly covered. I will distribute the questionnaires among different groups of parents from the selected communities, gather their answers and use these answers for my study on the topic.
I will do a well structured interview on the selected groups of parents, which I will record every word to word. This selection of parents is done on the basis of their locations. I will select two communities of parents from two different regions each group consisting of 4 or 5 parents, as the change in the locations creates a drastic difference in their cultures. And this helps me to collect a diversified set of opinions on the prominence of game playing in their respective societies from parents. By making an appropriate plan on how to carry out my interview, I will list out all the possible doubts I have in the critical reception of parents on the game playing activities of their children, questions based on the literature review, issues over the data collected by me regarding the impacts of playing violent computer and video games.
All the information gathered from these procedures are carefully utilized to full efficiency so that the results obtained from the research would be of high quality.
A discussion of research outputs and dissemination
The possible outputs from the research carried out would be the form of some facts that determine the level of knowledge of parents on the game playing activities of their children, their level of encouragement towards those activities, their level of attention in the selection of games to be played, their observations on child's behaviour, limitations to be implied on the children to control them from addiction and their level of awareness on both positive and negative impacts of these games.
Also the remedies to avoid the negative impacts of this issue are also grouped under the possible outputs of this research. And these outputs can be presented to different groups of relevant audiences in the form of a case study with the help of examples and feed backs on different genres of games and their impacts on children.
A consideration of any ethical issues that may have been identified
There are a few ethical issues in the process of designing the questionnaires and interviews. Considering these ethical issues the necessary questionnaires and interviews must be carefully designed such that the information provided in the questions asked will not implant any bad intensions or ideas in the parents in a way leading to any unwanted consequences of over restricting their children.
Also the task of bringing awareness among the parents about the potential impacts of playing computer and video games on children must be carefully handled such that the primary focus of the audiences should mainly be directed on a particular genre of gaming to explain the issue of potential impacts, but not on a particular game, spoiling the reputation of the game or the developer.