Debate: do kids spend too much time playing computer games?

5 August 2009

Gone are the days when our children spent their time playing ring-a-ring-of-rosies or conkers. Now young people are more likely to be in front of the television playing Grand Theft Auto or Halo.

Is this a bad thing? Do kids spend too much of their time playing computer games?

  • Are children missing out on important childhood moments?
  • Or is this just part of life in the 21st century?
  • Are computer games damaging to a child’s development?
  • Or are they are integral part of growing up today?

Is this an issue that affects you or your children? Have your say, and debate the issue here on PCS comment, and a selection of the comments will be published in View, the monthly magazine for PCS members.

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  1. Bravo

    26 August 2009

    Well done to Kieran John for what he said. Hit the nail on the head. I have a new nephew thanks to marrying into my wifes family. We both love computer games and have found we have similar interests when it comes to that particular hobby. This has opened up a gateway to do other things. I am taking him to a Star Wars convention and we are going to do an exercise course together. I have bonded with a magnificent child through computer games so you can't be so negative. Furthermore, I throughly agree that parents need to guide and channel their children's focus to include other interests if they don't want their children watching too much TV or playing computer games. Parents should not outlaw computer games though, it's extremely narrow minded. Personally I don't see the harm in it at all and have known many children that have grown up with computer games and now as adults hold respectable jobs such as police officer, lawyer, fireman, office manager etc etc. They have played some of these supposedly "offensive" games and yet remain sound minded. They haven't had the inclination to kill, maim or mutilate anyone, steal their cars or any such activity. I think that people that blame computer games for their attrocious crimes or flaws are just grasping at straws so that they can escape blame and sanctions. It is human nature I'm afraid. Computer games come with age certificate, just like films do. A parent wouldn't let their 8 year old child (for example) watch Jaws, Night of the Living Dead etc so why oh why do they allow them to play these games? It is 100% a parenting issue by way of failing to encourage children to do other things. Telling a child they can't do something, you should know, will just make them do it more so by saying "I won't allow my child to play computer games" is just going to force that child to go round to his mates house and play them. That's no solution to a non-existant problem. I suppose by walking round to their mates house, at least he/she gets some exercise!

    Paul Warwick-Eales
    Kids & TV Viewing Habits

    25 August 2009

    Kids of today are spending too much time in front of the Television Screens. On return from the school, the fist things the kids pick up these days is the TV remote. The endless hours spent watching TV do have a detrimental affect on kids well being. As result kids interact less with their parents or sibling which is likely to impact on their social skills in the long term. Advertisers are milking the situation and the merchandise associated with TV programmes is endless. With proliferation of TV channels in the digital era the problem is going to get worse. The solution to combating this problems lies with more outdoor activities away from the TV screens but then again the great British weather is not much help in this regard.

    Jawid Iqbal
    What's wrong with books?

    25 August 2009

    How can blowing up imaginary aliens possibly be good for a young person's development? What's wrong with reading a book or playing a sport?

    Moses Smith
    Games unsuitable?

    25 August 2009

    Largely aimed at Clarissa Hogg's comment: Do you intend to ban your child from watching films and reading books? Guess what, some of those are unsuitable for children too! And unlike the literary world video games come with a warning to inform parents if the game is suitable for their children. I'd be hard pressed to find something "pernicious" about Super Mario Galaxy, or immoral about the up-coming PS3 game "eye-pet". Video gaming can be a way for families to bond together nowadays, get everyone around for a quick game of Buzz or maybe break out the Wii and get Grandma up bowling. This generation of console especially has introduced the concept of 'family gaming'. Much like films and books there are adult titles, because adults do play video games. Perhaps the parents of your teenage nephew should be watching what he plays more carefully? These games (the more violent ones such as Grand Theft Auto, Madworld, Ninja Gaiden) will be rated 18 and as such aren't intended for use by minors. In fact the BBFC who rate films step in to rate the adult titles and the sale of these to minors is strictly forbidden. Consoles in fact are relatively safe for this type of thing. Each new console comes with a "parent filter" allowing you to stop your child playing anything you think is unsuitable. So perhaps it's time to stop blaming video games and put a little of the onus back on the parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing. As for if kids are spending too much time gaming... perhaps, but I think it's up to the parents to monitor and decide.

    Kieran John
    Some kids do.

    24 August 2009

    Some children do spend to much time on tv, some don't. Computers though, most children and teenagers spend far too much time on computers on laptops for internet games such as Runescape,Club Penguin or Warcraft or social sites such as Bebo, Facebook or Myspace. So in short, some children spend a lot of time on tv, some don't.

    Kevin Thang
    Kids and Computer Games

    20 August 2009

    I don't get it. Kids spending too much time on computer games? Rubbish! Spending too much time on the computer in general maybe. What with your facebook, beebo, twitter and other such sites. I grew up on computer games that could be construed as violent and mind warping. I am now a happy family man, working in the civil service and helping my fellow members. And guess what? I still like to play computer games in my spare time. I say give the kids a break. I would rather them sit in front of a computer game than going out into the streets playing "how many ASBO's can I get before I get sent to Juvenile Detention". I really can't believe that this question is even being asked. I think trying to attribute computer games with violent crime and gang warfare is diabolical. I firmly believe that too many parents let their kids loose without positive attention and guidance and this is detrimental in itself. I think trying to put the blame on one specific issue like computer games is frankly pathetic and fruitless.

    Paul Warwick-Eales
    artificially polarised debates

    13 August 2009

    what is this obsession with artificially polarised debates? The answer is that it depends on a whole load of factors. Such questions, in my view, serve to encourage a reactionary Good or Evil approach to complex issues.

    Alan Smith
    Too much time playing video games?! What is left to do?!

    11 August 2009

    It's a funny old world as they say. People complain when kids play outside near their house and car. People complain when kids play in the park. People complain when kids cross the road. People complain at what kids eat. People complain that kids spend too much time watching TV. People complain that they are playing too much on the PC. People complain that they play too many video games. Perharps people would prefer if we lock them up in a cupboard under the stairs collecting stamps?!

    Jason Prichard

    9 August 2009

    The simple answer to the question is Yes, some but not all kids (and adults too) are spending too much time gaming. There is nothing wrong with gaming, this is the 21st century after all, but when it takes up a large % of your life then that is arguably wrong. Kids and people need to get out and do other things as well and have a range of interests or else you become an anorak. Having said all that, tests have shown that the best RAF jet pilots today are ones who are good at gaming! lol.

    Lin Black
    A bad influence

    7 August 2009

    I have to say I disagree. My son is only a year old, but when he grows older he is not going anywhere near these so called games. I have seen the sort of games that my teenage nephew plays - and I can only describe them as pernicious and most definitely an immoral influence.

    Clarissa Hogg
    Whatever happened to Jet Set Willy?

    7 August 2009

    Yes, some kids spend too much time playing computer games, at the expense of exercise, real life interaction and mucking about up trees and on bikes, but many others don't. Don't believe the paranoia press. There's nowt wrong with a bit of gaming. It's not going to give you cancer or turn you in to murderer, prostitute or amphetamine addled hedgehog, but it should be balanced with other stuff.

    Dave Plummer
    the times

    5 August 2009

    i think it depends what computer games, as now we have things like brain training and wii sports and wii fit which encourage kids to be healthy and learn more through entertainment, games like grand theft auto however are a different story, despite me being a huge fan of the grand theft auto games i dont believe they are games children should play as they have a negative influence on kids minds as they can be very impressionable depending on their age, so i believe its a 50/50 thing and ultimately lies with the parents to monitor.

    cara nurse
    Gaming is good

    5 August 2009

    Gaming is part of life now, so if anything a child that grows up not playing computer games is missing out. Its part of a technological culture that we have to embrace - young people will immediately be at a disadvantage if using techology is anything but second nature to them. All these old fuddy duddies who pine for a golden era where children grew up playing in fields and making daisy chains are being unrealistic - the fact is children these days have far more in the way of entertainment, education and information than previous generations. We just need to make sure they don't become couch potatos.

    Max McGinty
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