The Effects of Video Games: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

 
What are the effects of video games on players?

What are the effects of video games on players?

Effects of video games. Growing up, video games were an inescapable part of life and were a large part of development and socialization. Pokemon, which was very popular when I was a child, is still very popular today and grew from just a video game into a cultural phenomenon. Technology has only gotten more pervasive in everyday life, and with that comes the question of how much good technology is actually doing for us? The effects of video games have caused contention pretty much since they were invented. Parents have said that video games cause children to socially isolate themselves, become obese, desensitize themselves to violence, and just waste their time. With such a variety of games available to play, it can be hard to say if all video games are bad for you in general. But there is evidence for both arguments; video games can be both good and bad for those that play them.

Negative effects of video games

Most of the negative connotations video games bring to mind is the increase of violence and aggression in children and adolescents who play them. However, in all of the research that has been done, there is no consensus on whether the video games actually cause the aggression, or if it is more of a combination of the environment, the family, or personality features. There is, however, evidence that shows that the active participation, repeated acts of violence, and rewards that come from that violence in video games are effective tools for learning those behaviors. But then there is also evidence that aggressive behaviors do not carry over into real life, and players are able to leave those violent feelings behind after they stop playing the games.

One other possible negative aspect of video games is that people spend too much time playing them, and not enough time out in the real world socializing. He/she may also choose to play video games instead of completing homework, reading a book, playing sports, or interacting with the family. Additionally, video games also play a part in the obesity epidemic that is occurring in the country. Children who spend most of their time on the computer or on their game console, are not going out and participating in activities that would keep them physically fit and healthy.

Positive effects of video games

There are actually several benefits of playing video games for children and adolescents. Early educational games can introduce a young child to technology, which is very important in this increasingly technology dependent world. Additionally, video games can make learning seem fun, with the lights, colors, and interaction ingraining the information into the child’s mind. Gamification is even becoming popular in adult learning. Video games can even be a bonding activity between parent and child, or between friends. One of the most important things that children can learn from video games is how to follow directions. The player must follow the directions to complete tasks or challenges and earn their rewards. A large reward that has been seen from playing video games is the increase in decision-making speed. And, according to one researcher, the violent action games that parents worry about the most had the strongest beneficial effect on the brain. Video games have even been shown to increase hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial reasoning. The brain needs to keep track of their player position, direction, speed, aim, results, and actions. Relatedly, the player must then learn strategy,  anticipation, management of resources and quantitative calculations,, mapping, pattern recognition, how to judge situations.

Additionally, teamwork has become a large benefit of playing video games. Ever since the ability to play online with people from all over the world came about, people are able to listen to other ideas, formulate plans, and distribute tasks based on skills with other people of all ages. Social lives are actually expanding because of the ability to play with others all over the country and even the world. There are even some games that allow you to be active, such as the early Dance Dance Revolution, and more recently, the game Just Dance and Dance Central. Nintendo Wii even has Wii Fit and Wii Sports which tracks your movements, and so you have to get up and play. A study has even found that video games can make children more creative, even more so than cell phone use, the internet, or computers. Exploring virtual reality will provide many more opportunities for interaction and creativity. 

There are also positive effects on the physical brain that come from playing video games. The brains of players who participate in action games contain more gray matter and therefore a better integration of brain networks, especially in areas associated with attention and sensorimotor function. Another study found that the gray matter increase in the brain was concentrated in the right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. These regions of the brain are crucial for spatial navigation, motor performance, strategic planning, and working memory. The same study suggested that trainings utilizing video games, like brain games, could possibly be used to prevent known risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease. These are usually associated with a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume.

The effects of video games are more complex than just violence.

The effects of video games are more complex than just violence.

Effects of Video Games: CogniFit Games to improve cognitive skills

Even though the use of video games is still controversial, and the line between a healthy amount of gaming and an excessive amount is easily blurred. Video games will never be completely eradicated, and so using them for good, like learning and development can be very beneficial. Video games have been shown to improve cognition, improve dyslexia, and improve concentration problems from issues such as PTSD and ADHD. CogniFit’s brain games help you get the most out of your daily life and help assess and train your mind, your brain, and your cognitive abilities. The games are specifically designed to help improve more than 26 cognitive skills, like memory, planning, response time, working memory, and a wide variety of other essential skills that you use in your daily life. By using CogniFit’s brain training program, you could see improvements in your overall brain fitness. Start playing today, and see how CogniFit’s brain games and training can make your brain sharper and more agile!

 

References:

Anderson, CA. & Sakamoto, A. (2008). Longitudinal Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggression in Japan and the United States, Pediatrics.

Cesarone, Bernard. “Video Games and Children – Child & Adolescent Development: Overview.” Gracepoint. Gracepoint. Web. http://www.gracepointwellness.org/28-child-adolescent-development-overview/article/1949-video-games-and-children

Gentile, DA. & Anderson, CA. (2014). Long-Term Relations Among Prosocial-Media Use, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior, Psychology Science, vol. 2, 358-368.

Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 66.

Greenfield, P. M. (2014). Mind and media: The effects of television, video games, and computers. Psychology Press.

Matthew W.G. Dye, C. Shawn Green, and Daphne Bavelier. “Increasing Speed of Processing With Action Video Games.” A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Vol. 18 No. 6 (2009) : 321-326.

Elsie is a public health professional working in education and research. She is a lifelong learner, and is especially interested in mental and behavioral health. She loves travelling and spending time with her dog.