Why do children like video-games?

A kid using a Nintendo DS

That’s a question I never thought about, until some days ago, when I was reading through some web forums’ posts, and some random worried parent asked what was the deal with his son playing video-games so much. I was curious about the question, so I kept digging, and found tons of other parents complaining about how their children are not going out as they used to, how they spend most of their time online, or on console games…

Well, I just started wondering, and came up with a few answers to that question…

  • They find the virtual world more appealing than the real world

  • Sometimes, it’s just that the child prefers living a fantasy than living the reality. He or she might find the real world boring, or else, maybe he or she is not liking things at school, or at home, and is trying not to think about it playing video-games. In the past, I believe, kids tended to read to do this…

    Both reading and playing video-games takes you away to an imaginary world, whether it’s fiction or not, in which you feel like participating. Even if the words are written long before you read, not to be changed, you’re in, you’re there, and you are experiencing the story as it develops. Most games have a fixed storyline, too. Even when you have a more direct control over your character(s), you must follow some previously stablished path to find out what happens next. Just as in books, you follow the words to an end.

    It’s the concept of a “second life”, or “alternative life”. It’s probably not that the child doesn’t like life at it is (I hopefully believe children can’t think that so early), but that something in his/her life is not like it should be…

  • They like their “bubble” too much

  • Maybe it’s not the “exterior” what’s keeping children playing video-games, but the “interior”. The concept of a mental bubble is that a person (the child), creates boundaries about which things are important, and which are not. He or she will leave what’s believed to be worth the attention inside, and the rest outside. Those boundaries conform the “bubble”.

    The child might be so into its own bubble, or mind, that playing video-games becomes just another way to block interferences: things outside the bubble. Nothing is worse that being interrupted while playing video-games… Imagine being interrupted while playing to not be interrupted…

  • They find interest on how the games works

  • On the bright side, children often have an excess of curiosity, and the reason for they playing video-games is that of finding curiosity on how they work, on the variety of games, with different gameplay, graphic styles and even hardware (some come in disks, some in game cards —like Nintendo’s handheld systems—, the shape of the controller…).

    It might have nothing to do with personality or “exterior stimulus”, but interests: they are curious about the mechanism, the colors… something, which is good.

  • They like to think, more than they like to move (whether they know it, or not)

  • Besides the “mental” approach of whether he or she is or not comfortable with the environment, their bubble or their interests… Video-games can be a substitute for physical action. A lot of children don’t like to move (a.k.a. run, jump, do sports..), even while most do. This is probably a bad thing, but you can always remember 10 positive things video-games do in children.

    Doing physical activities you get tired, and then you have to stop. Doing minimal physical activities like video-games (which become in the end mental activities with a minimal physical response of using joysticks and buttons), don’t make them tired as a whole, or sleepy. I don’t really know if this is valid as video-games can some times make your eyes tired… (Just as reading!)

All of these are just possibilities. I’m no expert in the matter, but an once-a-kid-gamer gamer, so, as always, all is based in introspection and observation (not exactly in that order…).

Photo by Ian Muttoo.

2 Thoughts

  1. Summer D says:

    I don’t know… My child is not… I mean, he doesn’t create a “bubble” around him; on the contrary, he’s always telling everybody to see the game, and he talks while playing…
    We try all we can in giving him a good life, and he seems to enjoy it all the time (video-games and anything else equally). And he practices sports…

    • I sense some concerning in your comment. I can’t see the cause of it. Your kid is perfectly normal. He seems to be a very sociable kid. Not very centered, that’s for sure, but well, he’s an active kid (or seems to be), so maybe he wants to do several things at once… (Talk to other people about this, anyway)

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