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Curbing Computer Use

Excessive computer use among children is not without its risks. This pastime, fast escalating into an obsession, carries its own share of direct and indirect side effects.

A Washington based survey found that children and teens are spending an increasing amount of time using "new media" like computers, the Internet and video games, without cutting back on the time they spend on "old" media like TV, print and music.

International efforts to curb computer usage amongst children

From July, China's 31.12 million online game players must register their real names, identity card number and residence permit information to log on to games. When the system is installed, teenager players will get only half their game experience points after three hours' consecutive playing and lose their points or virtual weapons after five hours.

PC-Turnoff Week is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 in the USA, as part of an effort to raise parental awareness about the potential risks involved with excessive computer use among children. The PC-Turnoff Week is hoping that children will experience more quality family time, improved family communication, more outdoor play, additional time for reading, and less stress and noise.

A different real world

People love reality television, largely because they are able to vicariously live through real people and real-life incidents. And so it is with video games today. Youth are able to leave their world behind and enter a whole different "real" world!

Moderate usage is best

In today's environment, PCs are increasingly becoming important educational tools. Children's time spent on home computer use is positively associated with cognitive-skill test scores and self esteem, and did not adversely affect time spent on reading, sports or outdoor play, except for heavy users.

Excessive computer use at home can contribute to lower grades in school, weight problems, social isolation, attention problems and a stress-filled family life.

The good, bad and ugly of video games

Does this mean every video game is bad? The themes of most popular games go against God's Way on many different levels, but do all of them?

Some games are educational. As computers become more popular, programmers are finding more creative ways to teach. There are games that can increase your intelligence and expand your mind. There are also some games that are not specifically educational but may be found to be entertaining, without any sex, violence or other deviant behavior.

In addition, studies suggest video games can help patients suffering from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Dr. Margaret MacDonald uses Smart BrainGames, a feedback system that monitors brainwaves through a hat-full of sensors. The system adjusts video game performance in order to "train" the player into emitting certain brain patterns. Dr. MacDonald explains how the feedback works: If the player crashes in a car game, the sensors will keep trying to probe the brain so it succeeds in the next game."

Does it work? Results so far seem positive….

According to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, "Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye and brain coordination by playing video games. The Air Force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets." Yet the implications of Mr. Reagan's statement are serious. Not only are children learning how to fly, they are learning how to kill. One young person, who had never shot a gun in his life, was able to shoot moving targets the first time he ever held a realgun. Why? Because he was very good at the "shoot-‘em-up" video games. Instead of getting into regular fights with your children over the computer, try and schedule other outdoor activities for them. Pretty soon they will realize that real life is far more interesting than virtual life!

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