Warning: Games!

An Increasing Challenge Facing Youth Today

Warning: Reading this article might make your heart rate rise.

The fact that your grandchildren have video gaming systems and smartphones is something over which you probably have little control. Many of us remember when Mario Bros. – the video game – first came out in the early 1980s. It was cute. Then came Tetris which upped the adrenalin factor a little bit. 

Since then the idea of increasing the intensity, pressure, and stress levels has been a key marketing tool as described by this compilation of advertising text: “XXXX promises to test your limits and leave you thrilled! Your pulse will race, your palms will sweat. Any slip-up could mean game over. The tension just keeps building level by level. Get the incomparable ‘YES!’ feeling when you win!” FanDuel claims this is the number one feeling in the world! 

In 2016, the Nintendo Company released Dark Souls 3 (ESRB rating 17+), a particularly intense video game. Reviewers said it was punishing, cruel, sadistic, and uncompromising. The game caused a group of players with an average resting heart rate of 64 beats per minute to spike to 125 beats per minute while playing. The increased stress level stemmed from playing a “slasher and splasher” (think blood) video game requiring “fiercely difficult combat.” “The severe penalty for dying – and thereby losing hard-fought progress – piles on immense pressure to defeat all enemies. This merciless gauntlet of threats demands expert reflexes, strategic mastery, and, most of all, extraordinary persistence, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.” 

What can you do? We need to work within the reality at hand and not just wish it were different. 

There are games designed to build a child’s skills in areas such as math, reading, memory, concentration, problem solving, and cooperation. An ongoing study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children who play the right video games do show improved cognitive skills. However, finding them is a challenge as many games recommended by “experts” will not meet your standards. How can you find appropriate video games?

  • Always check multiple reviews to make informed choices
  • Go to YouTube and watch some of the game play videos 
  • Check the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) ratings. These tell you the best age for the game and what to expect in the content, such as language, violence, and more https://www.esrb.org/

Look out for these symptoms in your grandchildren that may indicate problems with video gaming:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Unhelpful emotional agitation during gaming
  • Attention issues after gaming
  • Self-centeredness or the desire to be alone
  • Inability to manage time and stop playing

Many of these challenges are just a normal part of growing up. Children learn virtue from overcoming weakness and bad habits. At least I did!

Finally, as always, work along with the parents of your grandchildren. It’s a team effort!

This article is excerpted from Grandly, copyright © 2024 Grandly Missions, Inc. Grandly has launched an online seminar for grandparents who are seeking to pass on their faith to their grandchildren more effectively. To learn more or to register for the seminar visit


Top image credit: Photo of a kid playing an intense videogame, from Bigstock.com, © by Vlue, stock photo ID: 6661086. Used with permission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *