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TOEFL Vol 2 Official Practice Test #2

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Playing computer games is a waste of time. Children should not be allowed to play them.

While it is a commonly held opinion among older generations that playing computer games is a useless endeavour enjoyed by the youth, it is still a radical notion to propose that children should be banned from playing them. Indeed, there are perhaps more productive ways to enjoy one's leisure time, such as reading a book, or playing sports games outside, but to say that playing computer games is a complete waste of time is to be ignorant of the benefits this seemingly uninspiring activity may provide. I believe that the enjoyment of computer games does provide children some skills development as well as the opportunity to foster relationships with others, like any other social activity, and that children should be allowed to enjoy whichever activity they so wish to spend their free time doing.

When it comes to playing computer games, many adults might have the knee-jerk reaction of thinking about its pernicious effects on their children: obesity due to the sedentary nature of the games, social alienation because of the stereotype of unsociable nerdy videogamer, as well as addiction to video games that robs children of precious time that could instead be dedicated to academic pursuits and other productive endeavours. But technology has since then advanced in the recent decades, that the clunky video consoles of the past no longer represents the computer games children today recognise. Computer games today acknowledges the criticism the industry has received over the past years, and the industry has aspired to encourage physical movement instead of long hours of sitting down in front of the screen, by developing games involving dance, virtual reality that simulate sports games and other novelty innovations that have revolutionized the previously sedentary image of playing computer games. Moreover, computer games are often played as social activities nowadays, thereby fostering social interactions and shattering the image of the lone gamer in a small dark isolated room. There was in fact a commercial I recently saw, where a man dugged out an old dusty console from the basement, and played a racing game he used to enjoy with his late father. During the game, the "ghost" of the car with his father's record timing would often pass the man's car during the final laps of the race, and this evoked in him a sense of nostalgia and bittersweet memories of sharing the activity with his late father during his youth. Hence, playing computer games no longer has the stigma associated with it, and children should not be prevented from enjoying the activity.

Furthermore, computer games have actually been proven to enhance gamers' motor coordination and other skills. The fact that most games simulate real life experiences, such as car racing, actually improves the players' ability to navigate things that they do not directly observe with their real-time vision. For example, it has been proven that playing video games has actually improved the laparoscopic skills of surgical trainees, because laparoscopy requires visualisation of the internal organs with a camera instead of direct visual observation. In fact, surgical training has now incorporated virtual simulation training modules in the form of video games. Despite all the headlines that claim violent computer games make children aggressive, these claims have gradually been disputed by research studies to be unfounded. On the contrary, world bulding games develop the players' navigational and creative skills, which could all be applied in real life situations and well as future professions. Hence, playing computer games may not be such a waste of time after all, and children may indeed benefit from actually playing them.

In conclusion, I believe that children should be given the freedom to choose the activities they wish to indulge in, and playing computer games would not be such a bad option after all, considering that it is no longer the sedentary, socially isolating activity it has always been perceived to be. Moreover, playing computer games might be good for children to some extent, because it allows opportunities for social bonding, development of skills that may be advantageous to them in the future, as well as simply having a good time. To forbid children from enjoying such an innocuous activity is authoritarian and would in fact be counterproductive towards their development.

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December 2016

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