In the recent years there has been an introduction of many new technologies in the entertainment field. Video games are the most obvious example of new ways of entertainment. The aim of the report is to show the positive effects and the negative ones that this new technology has one the mental development of people especially the young age group. The report is divided into five sections. First section will be the introduction. After that come the positive effects of video games including some examples and research. Next, I will talk about the negative effects that the video games have on mental development of children and other age groups. Finally, the conclusion will provide my opinion stating whether I agree or disagree with the topic. I will also mention some of the measurements that should be taken by people in order to eliminate the negative effects of video games.
There is no doubt that video games have developed around the years and almost everybody now is playing games no matter how old they are. By time, all technologies must face some changes and developments in order to keep up with the consumer's needs and satisfaction. Video games have seen a variety of game types and brands. For example, game types such as strategy games, RPG and adventure games and many others that is fun for all age groups. Companies that are making video games are competing with each other. As an example of a brand of video game makers is Nintendo. Scientific research has shown that playing video games is good for mental development. There are many fields of video games in which they have based this assumption on, for example strategy games, marksmanship games and even adventure games. On the other hands, when people look at video games, all they see is violence and waste of time and health. Positive effects are concerned with creating new thinking skills and improve the educational and practical skills. In contrast, negative effects of video games should be highly considered as they send the wrong image to our children and teach some bad habits which can have an effect on their social life and academic development. However, these negative effects should be taken care of and should be a responsibility to all people in order to make benefits of video games and to teach young children the skills they need to develop their minds.
Some games have educational value beside the fun they provide. It familiarizes the concept of edutainment (education& entertainment) by experiencing the of education while playing video games." Research dating right back to the early 1980s has consistently shown that playing computer games (irrespective of genre) produces reductions in reaction times, improved hand-eye co-ordination and raises players' self-esteem". There are lots of skills that children can obtain while engaging in the experience of educational video games, such as
Many games provide for their players a variety of skills that can contribute in the process of language development. For example, answering questions, following directions and having discussion topics can teach some language skills and help to share information with others .
Mathematical and calculations skills
Mathematical and calculations skills such as addition and subtraction are learned by collecting scores and lives in the game. For example, in many games especially with long term games there are score counters and this gives the player flexibility in calculations when he or she engages deeply in the game .
This includes the character dialogue, the signs, the maps and other readable subjects. Some of the famous phrases that are faced in most of the video games are 'play', 'go', 'stop', 'load' .
There are a lot of new games especially that played through the internet. In these games, players meet new peoples that have another way of thinking. There are many discussions rooms in these games. Through these rooms, players will meet new people and improve his or her way in dealing with people in social situations and also the other discussions in the real life. For example, the children that is in the school who share the same passion about video games .
Improving visual-spatial skills
Games such as GTA3, half life, Crazy Taxi and halo are considered one of the most popular games .they were played by college students through a research to see how it influences visual-spatial skills. Researchers C.Shawn Green and Daphne Bavilier, from the University of Rochester in New York, had players playing those games . They have found that the video games have some benefits in improving some skills such as:
Students playing video games have better visual attention than students with less or no experience with video game. Game players have the ability to track objects better, react faster in certain situation and locate targets and goals more effectively. As an example of a type of games that improves visual attention, "A recent study proves that working memory and visual attention can be improved through the use of web-based cognitive training programs - "brain games" -".
Another research has been conducted between groups of students playing action games and non action games. They found that people playing action games can recognize new patterns such as detect new enemies and avoid in game deaths. Another good thing about action games is that they help people with problems in pattern recognition and mental problems. For example, students who play video games have the ability to recognize a lot of patterns easily because they will have a full experience in action games that gives them this skill that is needed not only in video games, but in real life and academic life also. .
By training and experience, in general, the person can obtain what is called induction skills the same thing occurs in video games. A research was done between different age groups, mostly teenagers, including people with video game experience and other with less or no experience. The result varied according to the experience that these students have and showed that experienced players can recognize fast moving objects faster than inexperienced players. They also had the ability to identify certain two and three dimensional objects that are repeated in different levels of the game. Another thing is that they could detect the change in objects more easily .
Practical and intellectual skills
Intellectual skills are concerned with using human intelligence. There are mainly two types of thinking, the creative and critical thinking. In a practical way, developing critical thinking is the most important one and from critical thinking, we can reach the highest levels of finding the causes and the effects of the problems in order to have the ability to deal with them. From this point, we can obtain good abilities in goal setting and strategic management and this will lead us to the ability to make the good decision.
Critical thinking is very important nowadays is better because it gives us an ability to think in a new way different than the traditional way. Many videogames give the players the ability to think in the new way and that is called "Critical thinking".
"So say researchers including Constance Steinkuehler, PhD, assistant professor in the educational communication and technology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This research took about 2000 players online in a network game called World of Warcraft" .
The results were as follows; 86% of the posts were about social knowledge, which mainly a discussion of problems and argumentations. There were an 8% of the posts that were purely social chatting and the rest 6% were mainly about the game itself .
There are two types of plans, the strategic and the specific. Strategic management is related with long term video games that give the player a good performance in putting plans during a long time while playing strategic video games. In contrast, specific is very simple. Many of video games especially strategic video games give the player an experience in long term tasks. An example of a game that needs strategic management skills is Age of Empire."Since there is only one viable strategy -- attrition -- victory will go to the best tactician, not the best strategist "says Nathan Toronto .
The ability to make proper decisions is the most important thinking skill. Making good decisions will definitely help to bring good results on the long run. As an example of games that require good decision making are the puzzle games such as chess, checkers and playing cards. Another example is a game called "Simuworld.". A game like that is similar to many business fames that are so useful in teaching decision making skills and integration of marketing, production and financial data .
Problem solving abilities
Children that are used to playing games that required solving mysteries experience what experts call "Fluid intelligence". Studies have shown that video games make people more insightful to training their brains to analyze faster in the video games world that are about trading such as monopoly. They help develop the kind of skills that child needs in the future. They give them a higher abilities to introduce more solutions and experts them to find the best one .
Leadership and teamwork
Video games that require more than one player can improve team work and build cooperation between the players of the same team. There are a lot of games that are played through the internet. By these games, players learn how to cooperate with other players to achieve SMART goals. We will learn many things like helping each other and sharing information and also organization the tasks in the leadership field that will give us an ability to control and advise people in our life and academic life as well. The video games will give the player self confidence about what he or she achieved in the video game and this will give the player an experience in leadership and self assessment also .
Negative sides of video games
Video games can send bad signals to the cerebrum of the brain and encourage bad behavior by influence them in resorting to violence and drug dealing. By showing people that police are bad and drug dealers are good, that will trigger violence and bad behavior another form of bad influence is the displaying of explicit materials that are not suitable for children under age. Other forms that will not will be discussed due to their irrelevance to mental issues such as waste of time and health (obesity, tension problems and pain in joints).
Researchers have proven that video games can be related to teenage murder crimes where young teenagers are prone to using weapons and committing murders and suicides. Most of the influencing video games that are concerned with gun use are the shooting games. Video games start their damage by preparing the mind into thinking in certain way, more like brain washing. Most of that brain washing includes young teenagers and children who tend to glue themselves to a box for hours and hours without any thoughts and destroy their minds with games that are filled with violence .
2.2. Sexual themes
There are many types of video games that contain sexual themes and many other materials that are not appropriate for children. One of these games is Grand Theft Auto. These games that show explicit materials can destroy the mind and result in bad behaviors such as committing sex related crimes. What grand theft auto shows is that the person who goes to jail for crimes is considered a hero, that will result in negative effects on the countries' safety and security. There are a lot games that show the hero engaging in sexual intercourses in order to gain energy and power .
2.3. Social problems
No one in the world can live alone. All of us have to communicate with people and share our ideas and information. Video games take a lot of time from the person's life; the player may spend more than 4 or 5 hours daily. That will affect negatively on his or her social life and relationships with their families and friends at the same time. In addition, it will affect on the school performance because video games will take from the study time and will decrease the concentration because his or her mind will be related with the actions in video games.
2.3.1. Family interaction
As the person is attached to violent games, the way of behavior and the change in mood effect their interaction towards family. Their attachment to the imaginary characters will be more than in real life, which means that they will learn from these characters more than they would learn in their life and that will result in bad behavior towards family. There is research conducted between more than 800 student form different colleges. The research shows that the students who spent more time on video games have weak relationship with their families than those who don't spend a lot of hours on video games .
2.3.2. School performance
Some research showed that students who are playing video games during the week do worse in school. They found that students who are playing video games get lower grades if they are compared with other student who are not playing video games during the study time and played video games only in the weekends and holidays. For example, previous study indicated the link between the ability to study and playing videogames, it showed that children who have video games and TV in their bedrooms scored about eight scores lower in math and language exams than those who do not have video games and TV in their bed rooms.
2.4. Excessive imagination
They are many games that are related to people having super powers that normal people usually do not have such as high jumping, flying and breathing fire. There are many children and even teenagers that are influenced by those imaginary characters and that will lead the person in to staying away from the world of reality and being locked up in the world of imagination. As a result there are many accidents that are caused by this type of video games. For example, sometimes children attempt to fly like superman by jumping of high places and end up with serious injuries can lead to death. There are also the low academic achievements that accompany this attachment to video games and imaginary character. In 1985, there was a student in Wamego, Kansas. He shot himself in the head. The investigation showed that the reason was a game called Dungeons and Dragons. "He wanted to go to the fantasy world of elves and dwarves instead of the world of reality with conflict," said the coroner. "It led to his death. He had been obsessed with the game" 
To sum up, it is a vital thing that that we make the best use of the positive effects as they contain a lot of skill learning, thinking abilities and pattern distinction techniques. On the other hand, the negative effects should also be considered due to their effect on children. In my opinion, I think that video games are good for mental development and they should be used more often in the educational experience. I also think that game producers should create games that are less violent and have more values that the ones that are destroying young children's' minds nowadays. Family should also be open-minded about video games as they teach some great values and probably a good media to be used in the process of education as it helps to obtain some skills and help children become more intellectual and strong in their future. Other facilities such as schools and social centers should also encourage what helps to obtain good skills and getting away from bad habits.