Video games: Helpful or harmful for students?


Gaming companies such as Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have been reaping the benefits of the gaming community for decades. So it begs the question are the products they’re making hurting or helping students?

Jasper Greuel, Sports Editor

The query has mired a majority of parents: are video games harmful for students? For some time, it has been believed that video games are mainly detrimental to teenagers. In recent years and unprecedented times such as these, video games have become a haven of escape for many students at Solon High School (SHS). The question is, do the positives outweigh the negative effects of the constant stimulation of video games for our students? I personally think that video games are more beneficial to kids than negative.

Many are quick to claim that video games have no benefits whatsoever, but in fact there are a lot of positives to be found. SHS Senior and Pro Gamer Yakov Mader details how video games have actually helped him be more social with others.

“Video games have helped me stay in touch with many of my friends during the pandemic, it’s an activity that we all have fun doing and getting together to try and achieve the common goal of winning a game is really fun,” Madar said.

Gaming also has a diverse range of health benefits as well, such as helping your hand-eye coordination and increasing reasoning skills. An example of this is seen through the game of Tetris, which has surprisingly shown to be beneficial to those suffering from addiction, as it distracts them by making the addict use all of their brain power to focus on solving puzzles. 

All interviewees had one thing in common to say about gaming and that is gaming is the ultimate scapegoat for undiscussed issues. A child may play a violent game like “GTA (Grand Theft Auto)” or “Mortal Combat” as a young child and then later go on to be violent later in life, but that does not make it cause and effect. Just because a student commits an action later in their life doesn’t mean that video games caused it, just like how it gets blamed for being the sole reason students don’t do their homework.

“All of this about how if you play violent video games you’re going to turn out to do all of that is stupid to me,” Madar said. “There is a difference between committing a crime and playing a video game in which you can commit that crime. If there were no difference, go and arrest everyone playing GTA V.”

SHS Senior and gaming enthusiast Derek Gill concurred with Madar’s statement.

“Gaming isn’t that bad for students, and we exhibit none of these violent traits that some parents and teachers claim we do,” Gill said, “If anything it’s a distraction that lets us get some stress out.” 

Gaming has done a lot for a lot of people. It’s provided a community for many to gather around. So before you judge someone for it, I’d consider the culture that surrounds gaming and respect others’ feelings.

That being said, since their inception and popularization from Pong in 1972, video games have been viewed by many in this negative light as a time waster, which, in fairness, it is. SHS Junior and local gamer Jared Ogle detailed in his interview the dangers that video games provide, especially with them being used to take advantage of young people who don’t yet know the importance of money.

“I think video games are very addictive, the more entertaining the game the more likely you are to put off your school work,” Ogle said. “Also younger students who don’t know the importance of money will often spend a lot of cash on mobile games without knowing what they’re doing.”

However, I would like to point out that this can actually be a good learning experience for some kids, it prepares them for the many microtransactions that companies will try to get all people to fall for. Games like “Fortnite” and many mobile games try to lure people out of their money for the idea that they are getting a better gaming experience by getting costumes but when in reality they are just making bank off of exploiting our need to look cool. However, when dealing with this manipulation you actually are preparing yourself for scams, I’d rather lose some cash on a scam in a game then lose it to a telemarketing scam.

Video game corporations make billions of dollars off of these titles they sell. But are what they put out there a necessity? Not really. Many spend thousands of dollars which could be allocated towards other uses. Priorities can distract people, and separating needs and wants is definitely something that impacts people who spend money on games. The enjoyment you would get out of saving your money vs. buying the new game clouds many players’ minds.

The argument can be made that this isn’t true though because video games provide entertainment when people could be bored, so you can argue that the money isn’t wasted. People spend hundreds of dollars on movies every year, but no one complains about the time that takes up. This same argument could be made about anything you do in life, but it only really applies to video games.

While video games do pose some harm to our students due to their addictive nature, I would argue that the benefits outweigh the negatives.

So all in all, video games are not harmful to a student if the gamer is aware that games are good in moderation. Madar details the many stigmas about gaming when it comes to how it affects the minds of a student.

“All of this about how if you play violent video games you’re going to turn out to do all of that is stupid to me,” Madar said. “There is a difference between committing a crime and playing a video game in which you can commit that crime. If there were no difference, go and arrest everyone playing GTA V.”

In my opinion, video games are often used as a scapegoat to distract from bigger issues that students are suffering from, such as lack of sleep or lack of social interaction, when in reality these visual stimulants can help the student with the lack of social interaction by making friends through a game.

Overusing gaming can result in negative effects of course so it’s good to remember (just like with all things in life) gaming is good to do in moderation. Shockingly enough, if you play video games for 13 hours straight with no stopping, you will have major eye strain and headaches. So once in a while, go out and just throw the old sport ball around.