We Need to Redefine How We Approach Video Games


There are many pros and cons to playing video games. (Courtesy of Pia Fischetti/The Fordham Ram)

As the ever-growing number of games and devices on the market picks up, there is also concern that kids are spending too much time playing video games. If parents are concerned, they should be the ones setting the limits, but video game developers should be implementing better tools to facilitate setting those rules.

First, the effects of playing video games must be established. There’s a laundry list of cognitive benefits that are cited in a study from the American Psychological Association, including “faster and more accurate attention allocation, higher spatial resolution in visual processing and enhanced mental rotation abilities.” Recently, a video game was approved by the FDA to be prescribed for ADHD treatment, called EndeavorRx.

Video games often serve as a fun vehicle of socialization. Players can either interact with people they know, or use video games as a means to meet others all over the world. However, they’re also a very potent distraction. Video games are often used to escape whatever is wrong in the real world; virtual landscapes are a place where people can execute control over their surroundings.

That distraction however, is still a distraction. If given the choice, many kids would rather be playing video games than studying, practicing an instrument or even writing a newspaper article. Going outside seems dull compared to the latest patch of “No Man’s Sky” on maximum graphics. Why socialize at all when “Persona 5” has 200 hours of singleplayer content? Not enough time in a day to play as much as you’d like? Shave off a few hours of sleep. Skip a few classes. Pretty soon one spends every waking moment playing video games.

Congratulations, you’re addicted. Welcome to the 1% of addicted video game players.

6C51. That’s the International Classification of Diseases code for gaming disorder, otherwise known as addiction to video games. The mere fact that it appears as a diagnosis in the same category as gambling and drug addictions shows that the medical community deems it to be a problem.

Here, China is once again ahead of the curve, banning minors from playing video games on the weekdays and limiting their time on the weekend. Before the U.S. mirror’s China’s policy, perhaps an alternative solution should be considered.

If one simply stops putting video games on a pedestal, a path forward exists. One doesn’t limit how much time a kid spends outside, despite the many dangers of poisonous vegetation and wild animals that pose far greater risk to life and limb than sitting around on the couch. If kids aren’t presented with video games like it’s a treat or reward, they won’t get nearly as hooked because they perceive that it isn’t scarce. By presenting it as an alternative and not an inferior option, kids will naturally balance their time between gaming and other normative activities.

If limitations are needed however, the parents cannot be expected to be able to curtail their children’s activities singlehandedly, as quite simply, children will be more advanced in knowledge about technology as they have grown up with it. As such, developers should make parental controls standard, perhaps as a notification of when one plays video games on the smartphone of, presumably, a parent.

Parents also need to start gaming with their children. Gone are the days where one’s parents didn’t even know how to pronounce Wii. A family can replace board game night on the uncomfortable coffee table with Monopoly on the computer, and the processor can handle the banking to avoid accusations of cheating. Instead of building a pinewood derby car, a dad and a son could construct a PC for gaming. Given the digitization of our world, maybe spending an evening playing video games will give parents and children a way to better understand each other better. 

Parents and video game companies should implement means of restricting kids’ access to video games in order to help them form a healthier, non-addictive relationship with the outlet. While video games are a distracting, potentially addictive activity, they aren’t all bad and they are clearly not going anywhere, so we need to rethink our connection with video games and adapt to their many landscapes. 

Owen Sibal, FCRH ’26, is a political science major from Richmond, V.A.