Harvard Health Letter

Game on

Violent and possibly addictive, video games have become a major part of American childhood. What should parents do?

It's been decades since the game Pong first bounced digital tennis balls across our TV screens. Since then, video games have become a ubiquitous entertainment phenomenon, as well as a major slice of the electronics industry's profits. Adults, especially parents, worry about the health effects, and there's lots of debate about the social and cultural ramifications of video games.

Not just for kids

The stereotypical video game player is the solitary teenage boy. While teens are the most avid players, more than half of American adults also play video games, according to some surveys, although the likelihood of being a gamer decreases with age. More women and girls are playing. And while people do play games alone, often gaming has a social element to it, either with people in the same room or over the Internet.

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