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Why this video game maker doesn’t let his children play them

What one video game maker says about why he won’t let his children play them and the latest research on video game addiction

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Children play a video game in Caracas.

In this photo taken Sept. 2, 2009, children play a video game in Caracas, Venezuela.

Ariana Cubillos, Associated Press

William Siu is a co-founder for a video game development company — he has made more than 50 mobile games. In an opinion for The New York Times this week, Siu wrote that his experience developing video games made him keenly aware of the addiction they could instigate, “For us, game addiction was by design: It meant success for our business.”

Siu explained he designed habit-forming games and originally, he did not feel bad about it. But doing more research and having daughters changed everything. “Knowing all the techniques with which we tried to bring about addiction,” he said, “I realized I didn’t want my children exposed to that risk.”

While he does not want a video game ban, he believes that children need to have boundaries around games to prevent adverse effects. Siu said in The New York Times that he hasn’t let his own daughters play video games yet, “My daughters are now 3 and 4 years old and I have yet to show them any of the games I have designed.”

Do video games have potential risks?

Research seems to indicate that video games can have potentially adverse effects on children. The World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as an addictive behavior.

Forbes reported that video game addiction can lead to an increase in depression and can ignore aspects important to their overall health such as relationships, diet and exercise.

While video games can have positive uses, there are identifiable risk factors. One researcher writing for The Conversation described how video games can be used in addiction recovery. However, an article published in European Addiction Research stated that while most people are able to play video games without experiencing intense impacts, video game addiction can have negative personality effects on individuals.

While research is still developing on the impact of video games, it appears they aren’t a completely risk-free venture.