Hong Kong - Scientists have found that children who spend hours playing online games may be developing friendships and nurturing vital social skills, a news report said Tuesday.Rather than causing them harm, playing computer games can help boost the self-esteem of shy youngsters and increase their satisfaction with life, the South China Morning Post reported.The benefits of online games were similar to those of making friends in the real world, the researchers from the Chinese University in Hong Kong concluded.More than 600 primary school children were interviewed for the study, which found they spent an average of 67 minutes a day playing online games and 44 minutes using hand-held game consoles.Nearly one-fifth of the pupils interviewed said they played for three hours a day or more, according to the newspaper.Dr Angel Leung of the university's psychology department said: "Online friendship is ... especially important to those who are extremely shy or introverted - those who have difficulties making friends in real life."However, she conceded that playing online games too much could adversely affect their academic results with English the subject most affected by game playing, the report said.
If you ask me, online games and more specifically these interactive video games can eventually turn out to be detrimental to a child's physical condition and psychological growth. They contribute greatly to child obesity and to aggressive personalities. I really don't think they can help shy children build social skills. On the contrary, they tend to cut off children from the real world by making them unfriendly and anti-social while their grades can drop dramatically- not only in English but in all other school subjects. What's worse, these games can become terribly addictive for the child who gradually begins to live in a virtual world of make believe. Children need to go out and play, run, jump, skip, meet their friends, practise sports and take up creative hobbies. That's how they can develop real social skills.
On the other hand, technology is part of both adults and children's lives. Some online games can be really fun for children and can help them develop creative skills, yet, even in this case, parents should, by all means supervise their children, set time limits and stick to them and, most importantly, talk with their children in order to make them realise that real life doesn't work the way they see it in their online games. In this way, children will be able to see the difference between the virtual, unreal world of a video game, and the many benefits they can gain in the real world.