We’ve all heard it. Video games are supposedly the mark of the beast and are destined to turn our future generations into reckless, horrific human beings with a thirst for blood and craving for vengeance. Where there is significant research that shows prolonged exposure to the light on a television and sitting for long periods of time is not good for your body, remember that a large majority of people sit on their asses typing on a computer from 9AM to 5PM 5 days a week as well. The major difference being someone playing video games is actively solving problems in their environment and changing their focus, while someone in front of a computer may be inputting monotonous information into an excel spreadsheet mindlessly.
Below you will find legitimate information that is pro gaming and anti-gaming to shed some light on both spectrums. What you do with this information is up to you, just remember to consider that reading back in the day was once frowned upon and woman were once thought to be underdeveloped men so who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong, am I right?
Pro: It can improve cognitive functions.
A study done in 2013 by psychologist Simone Kühn showed a difference in size of the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum after doing a two month study. They observed subjects as they played Super Mario 64 for a 30 minute period of time daily for the two months. Based on MRI’s that had been collected of their brains, it was shown that these specific locations in the brain had grown exponentially. If you’re not familiar with the functions of these parts of the brain then here is a breakdown:
Prefrontal Cortex: In a nutshell, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for making executive decisions for the brain; ie. Solving problems, planning, logic and memory. You can read more HERE: (http://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/blog/2014/5/16/know-your-brain-prefrontal-cortex)
Hippocampus: The hippocampus is responsible for creating new memories. It takes experience and stores them in your brain like a bank, waiting to be accessed later when needed. Without a fully functioning Hippocampus, you’d be Lucy from “50 First Dates” with Adam Sandler. You can read more HERE: (http://psycheducation.org/brain-tours/memory-learning-and-emotion-the-hippocampus/:
Cerebellum: The Cerebellum is responsible for motor functions and muscle memory. In relation to video games, it gives the player hand eye coordination. This also goes for playing instruments like the guitar and piano, or doing sports. In video games, you’re looking forward at the screen while pressing different buttons to create different desired effects. You can read more HERE(http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s3/chapter05.html)
All of these parts play a key role in our day to day lives, and through playing video games these sections of our brains are improved.
Con: Video games can promote negative health.
I know personally when I get into a game I lose interest in the things that matter like eating healthy and bathing regularly. This is why playing in moderation is what’s recommended. The same goes for binge watching TV, I can count over a dozen people off the top of my head that sit and watch TV and eat hot Cheetos like no one’s business when they’re bored. At least gamers are developing hand eye coordination and excellent problem solving skills. Just look at original games for the NES, games like Ninja Turtles and Doctor Mario were laden with problem solving.
If you have a child that has issues coming to terms with exercise, instead of forcing them to stop their habits and cutting off gaming time completely I recommend using the app ScreenLimit. It’s available for iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows devices. I’ll be doing a review on this app soon to go into depth on why it’s awesome and highly recommended for regulating screen time.
Pro: Video games make you happy.
There have been a multitude of studies done regarding the influence video games have on hormone secretions in the body. Achieving in a video game secretes Dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Same thing happens when you watch porn or win the lottery. Being able to reach a new level, find a secret room, obtain a lost item or beat a difficult boss makes people happier, especially when they talk about it to friends and post on social media. But..
Con: Video games make you less empathetic.
This is an argument I’ve tried avoiding for years but science has defeated my arguments. Indeed, violent video games that objectify video games like Grand Theft Auto showed in increase in the lack of empathy young men have towards woman which is a problem. I played GTA when it first came out, but I am a woman. It goes to show that parents really should look at the age rating for certain games… Things are labeled M for mature for a reason.
Pro: They improve coordination in pre-schoolers.
I know, I know. Why give a child a video game?! But, I can attest to this by saying that my child is visibly more coordinated since he plays video games. I decided to give him an only iPad we had lying around (we’re a tech family, we horde a lot of electronics and people just give us old electronics) so I downloaded Thomas the Train even though I hate his cheeky dumb face and showed him how to use it. He now plays Mario Run!, Curious George, games that increase vocabulary and more and more random shit I dind’t really want to buy but did. I have seen an incredible increase in his overall motor function and am baffled by his level of coordination and ability to solve problems. He’s smart, but sometimes he’s too smart for his own good..
Anyways, this study showed that kids who played video games going into preschool were far more coordinated than those who didn’t. Although, I question this when my child runs face first into a wall out of excitement but whatever.
Con: Video games can be addictive.
But what can’t be? I can say while being pregnant I had an unhealthy relationship to bacon and lunch meat (fight me). There have been extremely rare cases of people being so addicted to games that they’ve lost their jobs or even died for not sleeping or eating but these severe cases always linked back to that person avoiding something and using the game as a psychological out.
Have any questions or just want to let me know I’m missing something? Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!