Author: Rachel Kowert
Publisher: Self Published
First Published: November 28, 2016
Genres: Non Fiction
Format: ARC, eBook
Over the last forty years, video games have transformed from a niche market to a multibillion-dollar industry. No longer limited to arcade parlors, video games are everywhere and are accessible at any time. Along with the popularization of video games has come a growing concern about their ability to transform those who play them into antisocial killing machines who are desensitized to violence, have no friends, and will forever live in their parents’ basements. But are these fears based in reality?
Over the last twenty years, psychologists, sociologists, and media scholars have been working hard to answer these questions. Until now, their findings have largely remained insulated within scientific circles and inaccessible to the general public. A Parent’s Guide to Video Games breaks the long-standing barriers between science and society by providing the first comprehensive guide to the science behind the headlines.
Drawing from the most recent research in the field of game studies, A Parent’s Guide to Video Games was developed specifically to help parents better understand if, how, and why video game play can impact a child’s physical, social, and psychological well-being. This includes addressing questions such as these:
Will playing violent video games make my child more aggressive and more likely to commit violent crime?
Is video game addiction real? If so, how do I know if my child is addicted to video games?
Will video game play worsen the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD)?
Answers to these questions and many more are discussed inside. Armed with accurate and up-to-date scientific information, parents will begin to understand the science behind the headlines and be able to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families.
With the recent discussions of gun violence and video games, I thought it timely to bring up this book. A Parent’s Guide to Video Games provides a simple guide to the history of video games and the countless studies surrounding gaming and it’s social and cultural influences.
The first thing I want to note about this book is it’s gorgeous graphic design which I found aesthetically pleasing. The start of each chapter has eye catching and charming art in the same style as the front cover. Maybe in the future the style will seem dated but right now the look and feel is very modern. The book is formatted very much like a textbook but is extremely readable and approachable.
As for the actual content, the book covers a number of controversial topics that have come up over the last couple of decades. Included are topics such as the effects that gaming has on health and social skills, educational advantages and disadvantages to gaming, violence, and sexism to name a few. Kowert approaches all of these topics, even the extremely difficult ones, with a professional and neutral tone. This is perhaps the most important aspect to note because when it comes to presenting an argument, it is good to do so with consideration to both sides. When the person presenting the argument leans too heavily to one side and pushes their argument too hard while offering no solutions, they end up just preaching to the audience that already agrees with them and driving anyone else away. Kowert does a good job at making strong arguments for the positive aspects of video game play for children and adolescents while also acknowledging known problems and offering up solutions or ways to deal with such problems.
“You may be surprised how your children open up (about a range of things) when you show interest in what interests them.”
In typical textbook fashion the chapter ends with a brief summary of the points covered. True to the title and aim of the book, the end of the chapters also included advice for parents which I appreciated. The book is also well cited and includes a chapter full of recommendations for those interested in doing further reading at the back of the book. Each of the topics, divided into chapters, are relatively short and usually consisting of three to five pages in length including the summary and advice sections. The author gets straight to the point and the book is easily digestible for the busy parent or gamer that maybe isn’t too big on reading.
Overall I think the book does a fairly good job at doing exactly what it set out to do: use research to tackle common concerns for parents about the negative effects of video games and explain the topics clearly while presenting a strong case for the positive aspects of gaming.
- Are you a parent with a child that plays video games?
- Do you feel that video games contribute to violent crime? Why or why not?
- For non-gamers, do you find guides like this helpful for understanding youth?