By Brandon HENSLEY
At its June 21 meeting at Verdugo Hills Hospital, the Crescenta-Cañada Rotary Club was treated to a debate from the Global Initiatives Alliance on the subject of video games and their usefulness to mental health.
The seven-person panel, consisting of middle school and high school students from across the L.A. area, took sides on whether or not video games should be approved by the FDA as medical devices.
“From working with students in south Compton to promote literacy in their schools to working with orphans in Mexico to promote a virtual-style classroom with them, we’ve been working with various types of activities to promote youth advocacy,” Hannah Oh told the club members.
Oh filled in for regular adviser Jin Mary Oh, who was tending other business.
May was Mental Health Awareness month, and Oh said the goal for this debate was to take an issue and create change.
Three of the students argued for video games being approved by the FDA for medical purposes and three argued against. The other member, student president Dorothy Kim, was on the pro side of the conversation, but played more of a detached role in the discussion.
The kids said they chose this topic because of the stigma surrounding video games. The students who were on the pro side of the issue said video games can improve cognitive-based function, citing that fast-paced games can force players to process information at higher speeds. They also said it provides an environment for the mind to learn and improve.
Student vice president Kevin Park argued against the FDA approving video games for mental health purposes. He said video games could induce addiction.
“Although a video game addiction is not a formal diagnosis order, there is an alarming rate of evidence of addiction associated with video games,” said Park, who will be a junior at Crescenta Valley High School this fall.
Park also said there is an anti-social element to video games, as players may neglect to take care of their real-life situations, and that playing games can also lead to teen obesity and an increase in violence.
“The phrase ‘seeing is believing’ really comes into play here. As we continue to observe the effects going on in the screen, we start to believe what’s happening is true,” Park said.
Kim argued for the inclusion by the FDA for non-violent video games.
“Violent video games won’t necessarily be ones which are approved,” she said. “Even if they were, studies have already shown there is no correlation between video games and violence.”
Kim, who graduated from Notre Dame High School in June, made other points also in favor of the use of video games in general.
“A recent study by the University of Toronto examined the sensory motor skills that were developed by video games,” she said. “And gamers have been proved to do a lot better on tests.”
Students who are in the Global Initiatives Alliance are also a part of the New Hope Academy in La Crescenta, 3043 Foothill Blvd.