Video games mostly have a bad reputation for causing negative effect on the health of the people playing them. Well, it does have some positive effects as well.
90 percent of teens and kids in the US are seen playing video games for one hour every day (2).
Video games change the physical structure of the brain just like reading, playing the piano, and navigating a map does. The powerful combination of concentration and rewarding surges of neurotransmitters which occur while playing a video game help build the brain, just like exercise does it.
But it does not mean playing video games has all positives backing, it equally has negative effects as discussed below.
Positive Effects Of Playing Video Games
Playing video games gives a real workout to the brain of the child. The skills required in winning a game involve abstract and high-level thinking.
- Problem Solving And Logic: Certain games such as angry birds, cut the rope, and the incredible machine, trains the brain to think of creative ways to solve the puzzles and other problem in a short time. This trains the brain on problem solving and logic.
- Hand-Eye Coordination, Spatial Skills, And Fine Motor Skills: There are certain games such as shooting games where the character is running and shooting at the same time. In such games, the player needs to coordinate his brain’s interpretation with the movement of hand and fingertips. This requires good hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial ability. Research shows people can learn visual, spatial and iconic attention skills by playing video games (1).
- Reading and Math Skill: Many games that involve quantitative analysis require math skill to win. There are certain storylines of game to be followed which is given from the game text. This helps enhance reading and math skill.
- Inductive Reasoning and Hypothesis Testing: While playing a video game, the gamer needs to come to a hypothesis. It is just like solving a science problem. The gamer tries out a combination of various weapons and power to defeat the enemy. If one hypothesis doesn’t work he changes and tries another one. Video games are goal-driven which, is a fundamental of learning.
- Works On Dexterity: Playing online games improve the movement of hands on the mouse and the keyboard. One can learn to use shortcut functions on the keyboard and give quick responses.
- Improves Cognitive Function: Playing video games enhances multiple cognitive skills such as visual processing, memory, reasoning, perception, and attention. It helps the player, in thinking in different dimensions just the way an academic course does.
- Improve Mood And Reduce Anxiety: Certain games such as bejeweled, angry birds are quite straightforward and bring in happiness and relaxation and help improve mood. Games also teach people on how to deal with failure.
Negative Effects Of Playing Video Games
The game content and the amount of play can bring in the negative effects.
- Aggression: Increase in the level of aggression is one of the most detrimental effects of playing a video game. Research shows that exposure to violent video increases aggressive behavior (3) in children. It can push the children to violence and lower pro-social behavior.
- Addiction to Games: Video game addiction is a widely discussed topic in the medical world. Addicted gamers develop anxiety, insomnia, isolation, and depression. All this makes a person more addicted to games.
- Poor Academic Performance: Performing poorly in academics is a major side effect of video games on teens. It can affect their performance in school. A study shows more time spent on screen decreases the academic performance (4).
- Adverse Effects On Health: Excessive gaming adversely affects the teen’s health and they spend more time on virtual games and become physically inactive. This increases the risk of childhood obesity. Children are also found skipping meals and sleep to play games. Also, the constant glare from the screen harms the child’s eyesight.
The side effects can be managed if the activities of the child are monitored and the game time is restricted. It does have numerous positive effects but if someone gets addicted to it, the negatives become more harmful.