Is video gaming harmful? According to experts, it depends. Leading psychologists say video games can and do change the actual physical structure of our brains the same way learning and playing musical instruments do. In fact, playing video games is a better option than TV for young children.
However, playing video games has negative effects is something that has been debated for long. Some of the negative effects such as addiction, increased aggression, and various health consequences such as obesity and repetitive strain injuries tend to be more visible than the positives.
Let’s take a look at both the aspects of video gaming and decide ourselves whether it’s good or bad for our brain.
Positive side of video games
- Helps develop or hone problem solving skills: One of the positive aspects of video gaming is that it can develop problem solving skills. Playing games allows for us to sharpen quick puzzle solving abilities. Some psychologists consider this as necessary brain training.
- Helps in decision making process, fast counting and quick thinking: People often make decisions based on constantly calculated and refined probabilities. It makes sense that our brains get one strenuous work out by playing these games.
- Helps in moving swiftly, albeit accurately: Action games go a long way to train our brains to make faster decisions without losing accuracy. Considering our fast-paced world, this is an additional benefit.
- Helps in anticipation and strategizing: Gamers learn to keep long-term goals in mind while dealing with immediate problems. That's an essential entrepreneurial skill set.
- Helps in testing theories and inductive reasoning: Gamers regularly try out a variety of combinations in some games if one doesn't work, they develop a new proposition, etc. These are considered to be “objective-driven encounters,” which is a key ingredient to learning.
Negative side of video games
- Poor school performance and an urge to argue: Video gamers tend to achieve poor scores and regularly engage in a fight with their teachers and friends. Many of them skip homework, admitting that their poor school grades are a direct result of video game habits.
- Lack of concentration: Video games can enhance our concentration ability but only for a short term. In a longer run, it tends to get damaged.
- Increased susceptibility to depression and anxiety: Depression and anxiety are found in almost all video gamers who play games excessively. Children who have become addicted often depict social phobias.
- Attention deficit and impulsiveness: Children can and sometimes do exhibit attention deficit and impulsiveness, having difficulty sustaining behaviour to reach an objective.
- Problem with physical health: Psychologists have recommended that video games may cause children to develop bad health issues such as postural, muscular and skeletal disorders along with obesity.
Games that include educational content can improve educational and reasoning skills. Some games rely on reasoning and problem solving to build different structures. More violent games increase aggressive thoughts, behaviours, and actions that can lead to troublesome real-life situations. As parents, the onus is upon us to make the right choices for our kids.