Do Video Games Help or Harm the Malaysian Youth?

January 4, 2023

For years, parents have been concerned about the effects of video games on the development of their children.  For the most part, parents feel that video games take time away from more worthwhile activities, while others are concerned about how video games promote violent and anti-social behavior in children. Meanwhile, there are scientists and psychologists who believe that video games do have some benefits – one of these is that they can make children smarter.  So, how good or bad are video games for children?

In a research by Ts. Dr. Rajermani Thinakaran, it is proven that video games are loved by people of all ages ranging from children to the elderly. It has evolved remarkably from the early days of computer games and the very first versions of Nintendo and Atari.

Titled ‘A Case Study on the Impact of Video Games Towards Malaysian Youth,’ the research revealed that the video game sector has become larger than the movie and music industries combined.

Ts. Dr. Rajermani Thinakaran, a senior lecturer at INTI International University’s Faculty of Data Science and Information Technology, believes that gaming is a positive and beneficial experience when done in moderation.

“The United States holds one of the largest video game markets in the globe with 226.6 million video game players in total, of which 18% of them are above 55 years old and 20% of them are below 18 years old with an average age of gamers who are 31 years old. As of 2021, Asia has 3.2 billion gamers emerging as the largest video game market with Europe coming in second place with a figure of 715 million gamers,” shared Dr. Rajermani.

According to Dr. Rajermani, a senior lecturer at INTI International University’s Faculty of Data Science and Information Technology, studies show that those who watch simulated violence, like that in video games, can become immune to it and are more likely to act violent themselves.

“There has been a correlation between violent game use and aggressive behaviour. Although there is insufficient evidence to link violent video games to criminal behaviours, the interactive nature of some of the video games can worsen the effects of game violence on youths by encouraging repetitive action and rewards for such behaviour through its animated games,” she said.

Dr. Rajermani said added that playing video games for long hours can affect teenagers’ performance in school. Studies have shown that a higher amount of time spent playing onscreen games can be associated with lower academic performance while some participants admit that their video game habits do affect their results at school.

“Another study also found that video game addicts have more destructive behaviors such as arguing and fighting with parents and teachers. These are worrying problems but if they are nipped at the bud, it would be easier to handle,” she said.

Despite the concerns of many parents, not all video games are harmful to a child’s development.  Many games provide interactive forms of education for children that teach them a variety of skills.

“Games such as ‘Legend of Zelda’ provide children the opportunity to think creatively as obstacles arise.  The character in the game searches, navigates, plans, and tries different approaches to advance through the game.  ‘Minecraft’ is another popular game that encourages players to utilize modification options to customize their characters’ appearance.  They can develop new realms and levels while modification gives children the opportunity to express themselves,” added Dr. Rajermani about the positive outcome video games may have on its audience.

She further narrated that video games can help improve children’s memory even when they no longer play the games.

“Studies show that video games facilitate cognitive changes in the brain. Adults who have had experience with video games before they become an adolescent perform better at memory tasks than those who have not had video game experience as a child,” she added.

Dr. Rajermani concluded that gaming can be a positive and beneficial experience when played in moderation. If one plays games in moderation, for fun and recreation, you may experience many benefits. However, if you play games excessively to escape real-life problems, then you may begin to experience problems from your play, and in extreme cases, develop a gaming disorder.

“Playing games can have both negative and positive implications on quality of life so it’s important to be aware of your play and keep it balanced,” she advised.