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Pros and Cons of Video Games (2023)

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Many parents played video games growing up like Super Mario Bros at home, the Oregon Trail at school, or PacMan in an arcade.

There are many video game options today ranging from educational games to violent video games that can all seem overwhelming to learn. Many parents may be left wondering: are today’s games safe to play or are they are causing harm to students? The answer is yes, to both.

While there are many positives to playing video games, there are also some negative effects that parents should be aware of before letting their students play video games.

What students think about video games (video)

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

Why do students want to play video games?

The games are fun because of the action feeling of hiding, running, and shooting. It can also make you feel better than others because of your weapons. - Tyler, SmartSocial Student Advisor
They are fun because you can play those games online with other students and it builds connection or feels like a social game instead of an "on your own" sort of game. - Ziya, SmartSocial Student Advisor
  • Connecting with friends - Opportunities for more socializing compared to TV or reading - many games offer chat features and players enjoy interacting with other players 
  • Problem-solving and challenges - Many video games, like role-playing games or action games, require the player to solve problems and work towards a goal
  • Edge of seat - The action that many games offer is exhilarating and finding hidden secrets in the game can be challenging and rewarding
  • Fun topic of conversation - Students at school will talk about video games, which may lead to game-inspired ideas or projects
Entertainment Software Association

Student, parent, & educator training video

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

Students: Download this pdf to follow along with the video

Family checklist (video lesson)

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

Pros and cons of video games (expert video)

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

Expert guests include: 

Christian Ulstrup, Founder, Virgils, Inc.

Gabe Zichermann, Founder & CEO, Gamification.co

Monet Goldman, Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor, Monet Goldman Video Game Counseling

Josh Ochs, Founder of SmartSocial.com

Pros of video games

Teamwork, leadership, & problem solving skills

  • From your own console, you’re working with a whole squad or small team to complete a mission
  • You may have time constraints of only one game so you must keep it productive
  • You must be clear with your words to complete the mission, earn new weapons, or whatever the goal is for the main character
  • Keeping cool under pressure can help with the end goal
  • Chances to cover for your friends if they need help
  • Learning your strengths and those of your squad
  • Managing your emotions through failure and success
Entertainment Software Association

Better real-life friendships & being social

  • Work with your parents to make sure they know you’re playing with your school friends, so they encourage your time together
  • Support each other when it’s game time, but also help your friends to focus on school, so you can have more game time
  • Listen to your feelings and your friends

Builds family relationships 

  • Gaming as a family can build relationships and allow parents to better understand what kids like and enjoy
Entertainment Software Association

Opportunities to dialogue between parents & students

"Games may be a useful tool in psychotherapy for…building rapport, and providing social skills training. Family members or loved ones may also play a useful role... For example, playing…video games together is a good way for parents to participate in a child-directed activity…"- Frontiers in Psychology

Making learning fun

  • Many video games create learning opportunities to prepare you for your future (while having fun)
"AI, automation, VR/AR, and nanotechnology—demand different skills from employees and creates new challenges for both employers and educators…"- EdSurge

Hand-eye coordination

Studies have shown that [gamers] have improved hand-eye coordination and gaming requires tremendous concentration and cognitive abilities. - Technology.org

Players learn to fail & learn from mistakes in low-stakes environments

  • The challenges inside of games can oftentimes help a student learn to try multiple solutions to get through an obstacle
  • Video games are sometimes used in classrooms for specific learning objectives
  • Benefits of video games according to educators include:
  • ~Coding practice
  • ~Problem-solving skills
  • ~Team building
  • ~Memorization skills
  • ~Sparking creativity
  • ~Reading and writing
  • ~Math (calculating costs, time, and resources)
"...Failing, and feeling responsible for failing, makes players enjoy a game more, not less."- Jesper Juul, The Video Game Theory Reader

Cons of video games

Chatting with strangers who may not be who they say they are in real life

  • While video games deliver a lot of positives, including social interaction, sometimes other video game players whom we chat with in the game might not have our best interests in mind
  • Consider chatting with only those people who you know in real life (at school or family friends) and never share your real-life location with anyone in the game
  • Be mindful of the language others use, as it might impact how we feel after playing the game
  • Cursing can make people feel good as it can release endorphins. But hearing others curse repeatedly can cause that word to enter our vocabulary if we aren’t careful (Source: KIDAS)

Hard to put down the controller:  Screen time addiction 

  • Too much screen time is bad on any screen but the video game industry wants to keep us hooked
Epic ames sued for not warning parents 'Fortnite' is allegedly as addictive as cocaine
...‘Fortnite’ was developed by psychologists, statisticians and others over four years ‘to develop the most addictive game possible,’ all so Epic could reap lucrative profits. - USA Today

How does addiction impact us?

  • Addiction impacts our physical health and mental well-being
  • We can get addicted to certain behaviors that give us a same rush of good feelings
  • Addiction can negatively impact our sleep, eating habits, family, and friendships
  • We may not realize we are addicted to something until a friend or family member points it out to us, and we never like to hear it from them
  • At that point, hearing that you might be addicted to something is the last thing you want to talk about. It makes all of us avoid the subject
  • Maybe you have a friend who displays these traits?

Look out for these video game addiction signs in your friends 

  • Thinking about gaming constantly
  • Feeling bad when they can’t play
  • Needing to play for longer and longer to feel good while playing
  • Not being able to put the controller down or reduce playing time
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Having problems at school or home, but won't use services to help
  • Lying about how much time is played or sneaking extra playing time
  • Turning to their game console to release bad moods or feelings

What to do if you suspect a friend is addicted to video games 

  • Talk to a trusted adult about your concerns
  • Invite your friend to do non-video game activities with you to step away from your consoles 
  • Talk to your friend and share what you know about addiction and how you see them acting
  • Encourage your friend to set a time limit when they’re playing

Reasons to talk about gaming addiction

Impacts academic performance: In the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement nearly 27,000 first-year students reported gaming more than 16 hours/week. These students had lower SAT scores, lower high school grades, and went to college less prepared.
Cause of college dropout: 9% of first-year students bring gaming problems to college with them and studies show 48% will avoid studying because of it. Add a tougher workload, change in environment, and more stress, and you have an increase in dropouts.
Correlates with depression: Studies show gaming addiction can lead to psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. These symptoms cause isolation in students who need support, and lead to poor academic performance and dropout. - Game Quitters

What causes video game addiction? 

Gaming addiction signs & tips

  • The gaming companies make a profit by selling advertising, in-game upgrades, brand new games, and releasing new versions of already popular video games that make players want to spend more money and time playing video games
  • The most addictive games have no defined ending or “Game Over” and enable and encourage social interactions with other gamers or collaborating with other players to advance in the game
  • “Gaming Disorder” was declared a mental health condition by the World Health Organization (Source: Business Insider)
Gaming disorder has been classified as a mental health condition by the World Health Organization

What can parents do to help keep kids safe?

Example of ESRB rating for Call of Duty
  • Start with clear limits on time--American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 30-60 minutes per day on school days and less than 2 hours on non-school days (Source: AAP) and make sure they are still getting daily physical exercise
  • If your student plays the games on a console (Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or Playstation), use the console’s parental controls to limit how much time they play
  • Remind your student to never give out any personal information to others online (home address, real name, city, school, etc) and that people online are not always who they say they are
  • Reassure your child that they can talk to a parent or trusted adult if any online interactions ever make them feel uncomfortable
  • Read and follow the ESRB ratings for each game in their own right

5 ways families can be safer on online games (video lesson)

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

#1: Play together

  • One of the best ways to get more game time is to invite your parents to play games with you
  • Use game time as a way to connect with your family 
  • Tell your parents why you like playing certain games and how much it would mean to you if they joined you for a match
  • Students: be the expert and walk your parents through your favorite games to show them what you know and what you do

#2: Play without a headset

  • When you hear profanity being used casually on a consistent basis, you are more likely to use it and get in trouble
  • Some strangers use headsets to learn personal information about others--never share personal details with anyone online  

#3: Set goals and earn game time

  • Showcase your responsibility (and possibly earn more game time) by prioritizing school work, family, and extracurricular activities before game time 
  • Think of game time as something that you can look forward to once you’ve done all of your other activities first

#4: Be cautious of scams

  • There are lots of email and social media messages that claim to give away free money or credits for games if you provide your account log-in info in exchange for claiming a prize. Any real giveaway promotion will occur only in the game
  • ONLY give your passwords to your parents, never a stranger or a friend

#5: Manage your game time 

  • Work with your parents BEFORE you start playing to determine an acceptable amount of time or a certain number of matches to play
  • If you’re playing for a set amount of time, use a visual timer like an egg timer to track how much time you have left

Quick tips for parents (3 min video)

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

  • Create a username that does not directly identify you, but that wouldn’t embarrass you if someone knew who you were
  • Work together to decide the amount of play time BEFORE you start playing
  • Find other activities that help you develop your knowledge and skills of the game without more screen time (like find books or magazines about the game with tips and stories, or write a plan for what you want to create or do next time you log in)


Joining friends to work towards a common goal in a virtual world can be a fun and rewarding experience for many students.  Regardless of what genres your kids play, there are potential dangers. No matter if they are world building, playing an Xbox series or on a Nintendo Switch, or playing on a tablet or smartphone, there are possible negative effects of playing video games. There are many ways families can have fun and still stay safe while playing video games.

Additional resources

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These Pros & Cons of Video Games lessons will help parents, students and educators learn:

  • Pros and cons of playing video games
  • Tips from students and experts to maximize benefits and how to watch out for the dangers
  • Tips to maximize fun as a family playing video games together

Unlock this video to learn what you can do to help kids have fun and stay safe while playing video games

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


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