If you’re like me, chances are your parents are of a much older generation and have never been exposed to video games when they were young. Human nature dictates that we tend to fear the unknown; what we don’t understand, we come to both have an irrational fear and hatred for such things and concepts. My parents have always had a “phobia” for video games – completely believed in the negative stereotypes, tried everything they could to limit me from gaming, and would constantly belittle and ridicule me for having an interest in them.
Now with this article I’m not going to list and debunk every single lie about video games that baby boomers have. Instead, I will list down the myths that many parents, especially my own, seem to possess and prove them wrong. I’ll try to keep this compilation of myths and realities as short as possible, as we live in an era where youth tend to have extremely short attention spans and won’t bother reading anything as long as a very short essay. Here are all of the common myths parents believe about gaming and the comforting truths to debunk them:
Myth -> Video Games Rot Your Brain
Parents believe that video games require little to no mental concentration and usage of the brain. They reason that since it is for entertainment, the player is essentially losing their intelligence to such a mindless activity. However, they don’t seem to make the same negative claims when it comes to watching TV and movies…
Reality -> Video Games Improve Your Brain
Not only are those assumptions false and offensive, video games require high amounts of concentration and usage of the brain. Video games are classified as a mentally demanding activity unlike that of watching TV or movies. As with games like chess and poker, one must focus and be sharp in order to win.
In addition, numerous studies conclude you become better at problem solving, hand eye coordination, greater tenacity, and other skills that can never be obtained by watching TV or listening to music. Doesn’t it make the parents a bunch of hypocrites when they makes those claims about video games but not TV shows?
I’m not going to lie but video games is what kept my sanity and logic/reasoning in check throughout my childhood. It also prevents me from becoming the stupid man-child they believe I am from gaming so much. I get tired a lot after playing video games because it’s mentally demanding, kind of like when I study a lot for exams.
Myth -> Video Games Are For Youth
Parents believe all games are targeted towards either children, teenagers, or the general audience with some exceptions. Those exceptions they find are too violent, sexual, controversial, or inappropriate in other ways for kids. People who are adults that still game are seen as outcasts of society in their eyes.
Reality -> Video Games Are For Everyone
Although that myth was true back then from the late 1960’s to mid 1990’s, after that was when games were targeted to older audiences. As of the year of 2017, majority of gamers are in fact adults with the median being those in their mid to late 30’s.
Games that are too inappropriate for children are geared towards this audience. It surprises and shocks me to realize so many parents are still completely ignorant of the rating systems put in place for video games. They exist so that consumers can be notified whether it is appropriate for specific age groups.
If you choose to buy a M rated or 16+ rated game to a minor you are not just letting them play “disgusting” games, but you are also breaking the law. Think about that before buying the next GTA or COD game for your child.
Myth -> Video Games Makes You Anti-Social
I can’t believe some parents (including my mom) still believe in this myth but they believe you get alienated from others when gaming. You decrease whatever social skills you already have and become very anti-social. Eventually you’ll refuse to interact with others and become a loner or socially awkward at work/school.
Reality -> Video Games Makes You Social
Oh how those few ignorant parents are so fucking wrong. Starting with the late 90’s and early 2000’s, gamers were introduced to online multiplayer. Consoles as early as the Play-Station 2 and the original Xbox had them which allowed random people to play games with one another from around the world.
Eventually with newer systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360 (as well as platforms like Steam), gamers were able to participate in virtual communities. Gamers were able to trade items, post user-generated content, display their own social profile, and do other things similar to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and WeChat.
On top of that, players could communicate in-game and outside of them through voice chat and/or texting. So playing video games now a days actually makes you even more social and increases your social skills which benefit youth.
Myth -> Video Games Are Wasteful
Parents believe video games are mostly or completely waste of time and that you could be doing better things with your life. They find it just as immoral and time consuming as say doing drugs, banging prostitutes, and joining gangs. Most parents don’t have such extreme beliefs and state everything is to be done in moderation.
Reality -> Video Games Are Helpful
To the parents that believe too much of anything isn’t good and balance is needed, more power and support goes to you. Anyways, they have benefits that I previously mentioned that are proven by scientific researchers.
Such skills can help you get and succeed in jobs such as surgeons and video content creators. They can also help those suffering from stress, dyslexia, poor vision, autism, and so on to improve and reduce of those problems. So no, it’s not just better hand eye coordination that are beneficial in gaming.
Obviously if the only thing you’re doing besides mandatory stuff like eating, sleeping, bathroom, and going to school/work is gaming then you have issues. Unless you’re like me and stuck in a suburbs for the summer with nothing else to do since you lost connection with high-school friends.
Myth -> Video Games Require Gamepad
Now this myth applies more heavily to PC gaming rather than console gaming. Thing is my parents (and most likely others) believe that it is impossible to play video games without using a gamepad controller. Only mobile, arcade, and handheld devices are played using other means to interact in video games.
Reality -> Video Games Require Nothing
Even on consoles, more modern systems such as the Wii, Wii U, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch have other types. From touchscreen tablet controllers and motion based remotes, to arcade joysticks and steering wheels, to even just a typical keyboard and mouse set, there are many options to choose.
Hell, even on much older systems like the NES and Xbox had all sorts of gimmicky non-traditional controllers to play with. This past summer I’ve been mostly spending my time on my laptop just playing games from Steam, yet my parents assume I’m just browsing the internet simply because I’m not using a gamepad controller.
Most parents are already aware of the non-traditional controllers for consoles and arcades, but completely ignorant to other platforms of gaming. It pains me to see that such people still believe in these negative and old myths.
Myth -> Video Games Lead To Hospitalization
I can’t believe that my parents still believe in this bullshit because of testimonies from colleagues and from the mainstream dishonest media. How people still believe that playing video games for over 50 hours can kill you with a heart attack, or how constantly gaming can lead to “hand surgery” is beyond me.
Reality -> Video Games Are Not Toxic
Unless you have severe gaming addiction and/or have health conditions prior to getting ill or dying from too much gaming, you honestly won’t die or get ill. As an experiment, I played video games for one week straight back in university just before exam time to experience the negative affects or prolonged gaming.
I still did take bathroom breaks, cook and eat my own meals, and sleep for 6-8 hours every day. But I skipped out on a few meals, neglected other responsibilities like studying (just for a week), and did nothing else but gaming in my spare time. And here I am still alive and healthy with no problems!
Well, the only problems I suffered was minor carpel tunnel syndrome in my right thumb and left marriage finger. I also became extremely tired due to the fact that video games are as mentally demanding as studying for exams. I honestly didn’t get addicted after that since I went back to studying and not gaming so much.