There has always been a strong debate on whether or not video games actually cause physical or psychological damage to active players. Especially, in the period, when there was a drastic change in how the typical childhood used to look like. If 30 years ago, childhood years were all about spending time outside playing ball with neighbors’ kids or riding bike with friends, now it is just world of virtual entertainment 24/7. In addition, children are not the only ones who might spend too much time playing video games; nowadays, adults all around the world are equally obsessed. The question is, whether or not it is a problem. Do video games hurt your health or are they actually good for your brain?
The most common reason why parents do not approve of their kids playing video games is “all the precious time wasted in vain”; the time they could have actually used to learn something new and useful, or done their homework, or helped with chores around the house. While that does not sound as much fun as playing video games, it definitely does not sound like losing time to parents. However, what is truly important is whether or not video games have any effect on the brain. Anyone who has had at least some connection with video games would have noticed that most of them are based on purely violence. For years, video games where frowned upon due to their association with the reason for the increased violence among children. While this might partially be true, there are many experts who think that video games actually make kids smarter and help them prepare for the real world.
When it comes to the effects on the brain, playing video games is not much different than studying, learning a new skills, playing an instrument, etc. While playing video games may have some negative effects, it also has some good ones. For some parents it is rather hard to imagine, so let’s start with couple of advantages that playing video games has:
- Brain workout – with all the concentration involved in playing a video game and actually winning it the brain undergoes quite a workout which as a result can strengthen neural circuits that can build the brain.
- Strategic thinking – some of the most popular video games are strategy-themed, where you have to develop a village or a whole world. With such games, children can get the feel of what multitasking is all about and learn how to manage different goals at the same time.
- Making decisions – video games are also a perfect way for your kids to learn how to choose between desired items. Usually, the games limit your resources and you have to make decisions all the time. This gives the player an opportunity to learn how to manage resources and choose something he actually needs.
- Coordination – we already mentioned above that many video games require players to focus on several things at the same time, which is also very good for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor and spatial skills.
- Critical thinking – critical and creative thinking is inseparable part of every video game. It is all about logic, puzzles, following instructions and solving problems.
- Memory – researchers have already proven that some video games improve memory.
- Teamwork – If years ago, video games meant playing Tetris all day, nowadays there is whole virtual world where you can meet and challenge other players. Many video games involve and require lots of teamwork in order to succeed.
- Think fast – compared to the strategy games, shooting games, for example, requires players to think and act fast. Therefore, it develops the skill of analyzing situation in minimum time, making the decision and acting on it as fast as possible.
- It should also be mentioned that video games can make learning much more fun. Parents can use them to their advantage if they have trouble teaching their kids different skills or even subjects like math, history, geography, etc.
- An introduction to the virtual world – whether we like it or not, we have to admit it that soon virtual reality and technology will be indivisible part of our lives. Therefore, children have to slowly adapt to the fast paced change of our surroundings and in this case, video games are a perfect way to introduce your kid to the virtual world.
There are definitely a lot of benefits to playing video games and yes, they can actually be good for your brain, but if you do not know your limits and spend all day in front of the screen the advantages can easily turn into the disadvantages. First and foremost, the issue with video games is always the immense amount of violence that they tend to include. Many of the video games are created around the topics of war, fights, shooting, etc. It has been observed that those who spend a lot of time playing violent video games tend to become aggressive in their thoughts and actions. It also makes it harder for some to communicate face-to-face. However, these are still only observations and there is no research so far that can actually prove the point. Other negative sides of video games include the possibility of getting lost in the virtual world and having trouble adjusting with reality as well as social isolation, obesity and back and sight problems.
Researchers, child experts and psychologists still can’t agree whether or not video games are good or bad for players, especially for younger ones. However, it is evident that while some video games may be violent and have negative effects on children, they still teach a lot of valuable skills and strengthen the brain in a way. Unfortunately, most of these skills are not taught at schools or in textbooks. So the next time you tell you kid to stop wasting time playing video games and start doing homework, you might want to reassess your view on the benefits and disadvantages of playing video games.