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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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YOUNG PEOPLE ASK

What Should I Know About Electronic Games?

 Electronic game quiz

In the United States, where electronic games are a multibillion-dollar industry . . .

  1. What is the average age of electronic game players?

    1. 18

    2. 30

  2. What is the gender breakdown of electronic game players?

    1. 55 percent male; 45 percent female

    2. 15 percent male; 85 percent female

  3. Of these two groups, which one makes up the significantly greater portion of the game-playing population?

    1. Females 18 and older

    2. Males 17 and younger

Answers (based on 2013 data):

  1. B. 30.

  2. A. Females make up 45 percent—close to half—of all players.

  3. A. Women 18 and older make up 31 percent of the game-playing population, while boys 17 and under make up 19 percent.

Those statistics might give you an idea of who is playing. But they don’t tell you the effects—good or bad—that electronic games can have on you.

 The good

Which of the following statements about electronic games do you agree with?

  • “They’re a fun way to bond with family and friends.”—Irene.

  • “They’re a nice escape from reality.”—Annette.

  • “They enhance your reflexes.”—Christopher.

  • “They help you develop problem-solving skills.”—Amy.

  • “They’re mentally engaging; they make you think, plan, and strategize.”—Anthony.

  • “Some games encourage teamwork with friends.”—Thomas.

  • “Some games help you work out and get in shape.”—Jael.

Do you agree with some of those statements—or even all of them? Video games can have mental and physical benefits. Even if some games are just a way to pass the time and are—as Annette put it—“a nice escape from reality,” that’s not always wrong.

● The Bible says that there is “a time for every activity under the heavens,” including recreation.Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

 The bad

Are electronic games robbing you of your time?

“Once I start playing, I find it hard to stop. I keep telling myself, ‘Just one more level!’ Before I know it, a couple of hours have flown by and I’ve spent way too much time in front of the screen!”—Annette.

“Video games can be time vacuums. You sit there for hours and then feel as if you accomplished something because you won five games, but in reality you haven’t accomplished anything at all.”—Serena.

The bottom line: If you lose money, you may be able to get it back. But that’s not true when you lose time. In a sense, then, time is more valuable than money. So don’t let yourself be robbed!

● The Bible says: “Go on walking in wisdom . . . , making the best use of your time.”Colossians 4:5.

Are electronic games affecting your thinking?

“Crimes that would be punishable by imprisonment or death are ‘committed’ in a video game without a second thought.”—Seth.

“Many games involve defeating enemies to reach your goal. Often, that means killing them in various gruesome ways.”—Annette.

“Sometimes you can’t believe what you are saying to your friends as you play—statements like ‘Die!’ or ‘I’m going to kill you!’ ”—Nathan.

The bottom line: Avoid games that promote things that God hates, including violence, immoral sex, and spiritism.Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:10; 1 John 2:15, 16.

● The Bible says that Jehovah “hates anyone who loves violence”—not just commits violence. (Psalm 11:5) Even if your choice of electronic games doesn’t indicate the kind of person you will become, it may say something about the kind of person you already are.

To think about: According to the book Getting to Calm, “violent video games probably have a greater impact on behavior than television, because kids aren’t merely watching the fierce and bloody hero—they are the hero. Because game playing mirrors principles of learning, they’re essentially teaching violence.”—Compare Isaiah 2:4.

 Back to reality

Many young people have learned to be balanced in their use of electronic games. Consider two examples.

“I used to play video games until the latest possible hour, thinking: ‘I only need five hours of sleep, right? Just one more level.’ Now, though, I’ve learned to put video games in their proper place. I view playing them as a nice hobby that I can engage in from time to time. But everything has to be done in moderation.”—Joseph.

“I cut back on gaming, and I get so much more done! I’ve been able to improve my ministry, reach out to help others in my congregation, and even learn a musical instrument. There’s a whole other world out there!”—David.

● The Bible says that mature men and women are “moderate in habits.” (1 Timothy 3:2, 11) They enjoy their recreation but know when to stop, and they have the self-control to do so.Ephesians 5:10.

The bottom line: Playing electronic games can be good recreation if kept in its place. But don’t let the games control your time or make you lose focus on the important things in life. Really, instead of focusing too much on trying to achieve a goal in a game, wouldn’t it be better to invest that effort to reach your goals so that you can be a winner in real life?

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