OPINION: Watch unforeseen costs with video games

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
Video games can have their downsides, impacting on kids’ behaviour and parents’ bank balances.
Camera IconVideo games can have their downsides, impacting on kids’ behaviour and parents’ bank balances. Credit: IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Video games have been around for nearly 50 years now, with Pong gracing our CRT TV sets way back in 1972.

To say the quality and variety of video games has come a long way since then would be a very large understatement.

According to Gamesindustry.biz, the worldwide gaming’s net worth back in 2018 is about $US135 billion.

This is largely down to games such as Fortnite and PUBG. Both these games have a crucial element in common — you don’t pay for the game itself, but you can, (and people do) pay for all the little bits and pieces that apparently make the game so much more playable.

Video games are predominantly played by children from ages of eight to 16, however I would imagine the children are not the ones paying the bills.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against video games. I have been an avid gamer since my teen years. But my experience with my own children and the children I teach have opened my eyes to a lot of issues.

Firstly, how much screen time is too much? I don’t think it’s a simple one-fits-all answer. We live well out of town and it’s difficult to arrange social time for any of my children that doesn’t require a long drive into town and an equal one to do the pick-ups. The fact my kids get to chat to their friends through the medium of gaming has become somewhat of a blessing.

But not one that does not have disadvantages.

Fortnite, for instance, can get very competitive and through that competition can lead to arguments and even falling-outs.

These falling-outs are often exasperated by not being in each other’s physical company. Let’s face it, kids fall out all the time but they also make up all the time — it’s so much harder to do when you are kilometres away from each other.

Secondly, what are the physical detriments of gaming? On posture, fine motor and gross motor skills?

According to Dana.org, there are many cons but also pros to health and wellbeing to be had from gaming.

Games teach skills but also desensitise us to violence. Games can help socialise children but can also encourage aggressive behaviour. Games may even help with fine motor skills but be detrimental to posture. So the jury seems to be out.

And lastly, those hidden costs. In some cases, these can lead to thousands of dollars being spent in a short space of time with no hope of funds being recompensed.

As parents, we have to be so careful with our passwords and allowing our kids to access such “optional extras”.

I would still say that (in moderation) gaming is a good thing. But it is something that could get out of hand very quickly.

I have no advice to offer other than you know your kids the best, you know how they react and to keep a close eye on them — particularly around your credit card numbers.

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