Pros and Cons of Video Games (2022)

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July 27, 2022

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

  • 5 pros of video games 
  • 5 cons of 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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Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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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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Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ app reviews at SmartSocial.com

This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Most parents remember playing Super Mario Bros, the Oregon Trail, or a favorite arcade game.

Today’s game options are vastly different and can be 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 some positives to playing video games, there are also some dangers 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)

In this video, students answer the following questions about video games

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in the video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. How much time do you spend playing video games?
  2. Why are video games so addictive?
  3. How do you feel after playing video games?
  4. What are some negative impacts of video games?
  5. What would you recommend to a younger student?
  6. What are the positive impacts of video games?

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

What we're covering in this video lesson:

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in the video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

Positives of video games

  1. Pro: Eye-hand coordination
  2. Pro: Practice leadership skills
  3. Pro: Builds family relationships
  4. Pro: Opportunities to dialogue
  5. Pro: Makes learning fun
  6. Pro: Real-life relationships

Negatives of video games

  1. Con: Random people
  2. Con: Hearing & using foul language
  3. Con: Becoming oblivious to the real world
  4. Con: Hard to put the controller down

More tips about screen time and gaming addiction

  1. Screen time addiction signs & tips
  2. Reasons to talk about gaming addiction

Family checklist for playing video games (video lesson)

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

What we're covering in this video lesson:

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in the video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Is the gameplay actually fun for you?
  2. Can you be social with people you know in real life?
  3. Is there something to learn?
  4. Can you turn live audio off?
  5. Is gameplay parent-friendly?
  6. What are the chances of off-game chat or moving to other games?

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

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

What we're covering in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Play video games together
  2. Play without a headset
  3. Set goals and earn video game time
  4. Be cautious of scams
  5. Manage your video game time
  6. More family tips
  7. Next steps for students

Parent & Educator Content:

Pros and cons of video games (expert video)

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

What you'll learn in this video lesson:

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What attracts students to video games?
  2. What are some of the benefits of video games?
  3. What are some of the most dangerous features predators and strangers use when they are talking with students?
  4. How can parents keep students safe while playing video games?
  5. Pros and cons of video games

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

Quick tips for parents (3 min video)

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

What you'll learn in this video lesson:

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Family tips for online gaming
  2. How to manage game time
  3. What to do if you see red flags of addiction
  4. More tips for parents

What is “swatting”?

Swatting is when someone calls 911 to deceive emergency services into sending a response team (SWAT) to someone else’s address.
  • There's a phenomenon in social media/online games called "Swatting." It's when someone makes a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address
  • Due to wasted resources and emergency services, swatting is described as terrorism
  • Swatting is triggered by someone falsely claiming a serious emergency to emergency dispatch (such as bomb threats, murder, and hostage situations) with the goal of having a SWAT team deployed to a specific location
  • Making false reports to emergency services is a criminal offense in many countries and is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment
  • Not only is “swatting” a criminal offense but it can also be deadly. Performing these activities can have a serious effect on your and your families lives

What can parents do about swatting?

  • Teach your children to call emergency services only if there is a legitimate emergency
  • Consider explaining to your children the consequences of fabricating an emergency and alerting dispatch services
  • Swatting is a common cyber bullying tactic used in online gaming communities
  • If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, remind them that they can always come to you or a trusted adult

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

Entertainment Software Association

Examples of why students play video games 

  • Connecting with friends - Opportunities for more socializing compared to TV or reading - many games offer chat features and players enjoy interacting with other players 
  • Fantasy world - The graphics, colors, and music can all be very alluring and help the player get lost in the fantasy 
  • Competition - Most games require that you battle and/or compete against others
  • Problem-solving and challenges - Many 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 even when they are not playing, which may lead to game-inspired ideas or projects

Pros of video games

Eye-hand coordination

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

Teamwork, leadership, & collaboration skills

Entertainment Software Association

How games build 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

Builds family relationships 

  • Playing video games as a family can build relationships and allow your parents to better understand what you like
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 game titles 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

Business skills for game developers of all ages

"Roblox has turned its tween audience into an army of entrepreneurs… ‘It’s almost as if we’re running American Idol for up-and-coming game developers,’ [said Roblox’s cofounder.]... The company also helps budding coders up their game."- Forbes

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

"...Failing, and feeling responsible for failing, makes players enjoy a game more, not less."- Jesper Juul, The Video Game Theory Reader
  • The challenge inside of games can oftentimes help a student be ok with trying multiple solutions to an obstacle
  • Video games are sometimes used in classrooms for specific learning objectives
  • Benefits of playing 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)

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, when they are playing it’s a great time to see how they are doing in other aspects of life and help them see the additional purposes of playing video games

Cons of playing video games

Random people want to chat with us 

  • While video games deliver a lot of positives, sometimes those who 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
  • Also consider the language others use, as it might impact how we feel after playing the game

Hearing & using foul language

  • 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)

Becoming oblivious to what’s going on around them in real life 

Play with headphones allows players to disconnect from the "real world"
  • Headsets allow players to become fully immersed in the sound effects and chat of the game
  • When students wear headsets it is easier to become completely focused on the game and harder to know what is happening in real life

Hard to put down the controller:  Screen time addiction 

  • Too much screen time is bad on any screen but video game creators 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

Things to look out for while having fun 

  • Some games, like a role playing game, have no defined ending or “Game Over,” this can make it hard to put the controller down and take a rest
  • Enabling and encouraging social interactions with other gamers
  • In-game rewards and “leveling up” can make us want to spend time/money
  • Collaboration or teamwork to advance in the game
  • Often viewed as a harmless activity, which makes it more difficult to recognize changes it can make in your future or behaviors
  • Rewards are often set on a variable schedule (Ask your parents: how are slot machines addictive for adults?)
  • The virtual world can continue to change even when you are not online - causing you to feel like you are “missing out”
  • Regularly released upgrades or expansion packs make gamers want to come back for more
  • Video games can generate intense emotions even if your parents think it isn’t the real world

How does addiction impact us?

  • Addiction impacts our mental and physical 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 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? 

Addiction signs & tips

  • The video game industry is worth more than $300 billion worldwide (source: Earthweb) and they continue to make money by creating gaming experiences that cause players to want to play as much as possible. (Games vary from Star Wars, the Pokémon Company, Final Fantasy, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, etc. and on different consoles like the PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, etc.)
  • The gaming companies make a profit by selling advertising, in-game upgrades, brand new games, and releasing new versions of already popular games that make players want to spend more time and money
  • 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
  • In-game rewards and “leveling up” are often set on a variable schedule
  • The virtual world can continue to change even when the player is not online - causing the player to feel they are “missing out” if they aren’t playing
  • Video games can generate intense emotions that feel like “real life” 
  • “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?

  • Read and follow the ESRB ratings for each game in their own right
Example of ESRB rating for Call of Duty
  • Discuss and set expectations WITH your student
  • Set the family rule that games can start only AFTER a child’s responsibilities for the day are done (school, sports or music practice, reading, chores, etc.)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Consider using a visual timer, like an egg timer or phone timer, to track how much time your student has left to play
  • Select specific days of the week that devices are disconnected
  • Help kids identify and line up other activities to look forward to after their game time is over
  • Play WITH your kids for at least 15 minutes a week and watch how they light up when you spend time on a subject they enjoy
  • Turn off the game’s chat for younger players
  • 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
  • Don’t let your students wear a headset while playing online multiplayer games
  • Don’t allow gameplay behind closed doors
  • Set up all available in-game parental controls 
  • Check-in often. Children are more likely to stay safe online when their parents check in regularly
  • Tell your student to immediately tell an adult if they know that a friend is chatting with strangers online and/or going to meet up with someone in real life
  • Learn more about each specific game
  • Tell your student to immediately tell an adult if they know that a friend is chatting with strangers online and/or going to meet up with someone in real life
  • Learn more about each specific game

5 family tips for video games

❐ Is the game fun (not just because everyone else is doing it)? Does the student think it’s fun while they are playing?

❐ Is the game social with people you know in real life? (Who can you talk to about the game offline?)

❐ Is there something to learn from the game (team leadership, organization, planning, eye-hand coordination, etc.)?

❐ Can live audio from others (strangers) be turned off through the game’s controls?

❐ Is the game parent-friendly? Can we play as a family?

#1: Play together

  • One of the best ways to get more game time is to invite your parents to play 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  
  • Use the game’s audio settings to turn off background music or other noise if playing the game is too loud in the house

#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
  • Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is

#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
  • Get on the same page and set expectations WITH your parents
  • 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

Manage game time

  • A healthy amount of time playing video games on a school night for most is 20-60 minutes per day
  • Think about your time in terms of how many matches or games you can play to know if you have time for one more game/match 
  • Explain to your parents how some games can’t be paused and that each game has different time requirements
  • Think about your responsibilities and schedule overall for the day: homework, chores, practice sports or music, reading, family meals, school, bedtime, etc. 
  • Look forward to your game time, but don’t allow the gaming companies to control everything else you do!

We become the average of the 5 people we play games with

  • Some games with chat/audio features  are known to contain bad language from other live users
  • Others may use bad language often to get attention from others, but with so much foul language in online gaming it might become more of a habit than getting attention
  • Students, have you heard people scream foul language in the game?
  • Swearing is often connected to an emotional response or a substitute for a physical reaction to something negative
  • Consider muting players (or turning off live chat) if others are influencing you with foul language

More family tips for online gaming

  • 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)

Game development and ratings

  • 71% of Americans under the age of 18 regularly play video games according to the Entertainment Software Association
  • Players say the games give them mental stimulation and relaxation
  • 83% of players say they play with others online or in person
  • 83% of parents use parental control settings on at least one of their student’s games
  • Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a non-profit regulatory body for the video game industry working to help parents make informed choices about games their families play (Source: Truelist.co)

Key terms/slang about video games (not just an arcade game anymore)

  • Arena mode - A player-controlled character is placed in a closed-off area and must attempt to defeat other players using their unique skills in the video game
  • Assault mode - One team tries to attack (or capture) areas that are defended by the other team in the video game
  • Avatar - The player’s character in the game world
  • Battle Pass - An in-game, tiered reward system to give players more options and extra items after playing the game or completing certain challenges.  There are usually both free and paid video game options 
  • Battle Royale - Individual players or teams enter a shrinking playing field and must search for weapons/shelter while battling until there is one player/team left in the video game. Currently one of the best video games in popularity
  • BM - Bad Manners - Player input that is disrespectful or unsportsmanlike in the video game
Example of a Battle Pass in Overwatch
  • Boss - A computer-operated character in a video game that is harder to beat, often at the end of a level or a game
  • Campaign mode (Story mode) - A mode that tells a story and the player’s actions can affect which path the story takes from the original game
  • Challenge mode - a level of play that requires the player to repeat a certain section or battle but with limited resources
  • Cooperative gameplay (co-op) - The gamers work together as a team to face computer-operated challenges
  • CPU - A computer-operated player in the video game
  • Cranking 90’s - A Fortnite term that refers to building a tower full of a 90-degree turns
  • Cross-platform play - Games that can be played together by gamers on different devices or gaming systems (everyone doesn't have to be on a specific console and one player could be on a Nintendo Switch playing online with others on an Xbox and Playstation)
  • Deathmatch - A gamer must try to kill as many other gamers as possible in a given time period of gameplay
  • E-Sports (Electronic Sports) - Organized, competitive gaming where gamers are usually rewarded with monetary prizes and recognition
  • Expansion Pack - A free or paid add-on or new content to a game that usually offers new characters, worlds, weapons, etc. where a game already takes place  
  • FPS - First Person Shooter - a genre where the player experiences play from the view of their character, often down the scope of their weapon
  • F2P or FtP - games that are Free To Play
  • Game Launcher -  an application program for a PC that is used to launch games (example: Battle.net, Steam, or Epic Games Store)
  • Health - the amount of damage a player can take before being defeated
  • IAP - In-App Purchase
  • Kill-death Ratio (K/D ratio) - The number of times that you killed an opponent vs the number of times they killed you
  • Loot box - Rewards to gamers for completing certain levels or tasks usually given on a random basis - may cost money
  • MOBA - Multiplayer Online Battle Arena - teams of players have to defend their home base from enemies 
Example of FPS view from Call of Duty
  • Microtransaction - In-game purchases where players can purchase virtual goods
  • Mod - third part addition or change to a game
  • NPC - Non-player Character - a character that is controlled by the computer (also, CPU)
  • PC - Player Character - the character in the game that is controlled by the player
  • PvE - Player vs Environment
  • PvP - Player vs Player
  • PUG - Pick-up Group - a group of players that spontaneously join together to beat a common goal and then disband after completion
  • RPG - Role-Playing Game
  • RTS - Real-Time Strategy
  • Sandbox - A game where there is no true objective or goal, players have the ability to create, modify, or destroy their environment (Minecraft Creative Mode)
  • Skin - An add-on to a player’s avatar to change its appearance or weapons

Conclusion

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 student plays 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.

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