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Video Game Gains

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Chances are you have heard in the news or other media that video games make children dumber, or ruin their eyesight, or, in the case of violent video games, can even increase violent tendencies. Despite these common perceptions, scientific research does not actually support these ideas. In fact, the areas in which video games have been proven to improve skills in children and adults are the same areas associated with high intelligence. Video games can improve eyesight; they do not inherently ruin vision. And no research to date has pointed to violent video games causing any demonstrated increase in aggression in children. Interestingly, the opposite has been found; it has been found in some studies that playing violent video games will actually make children less aggressive and less likely to actually commit violent acts such as bullying other kids. But, whereas children who play sports or read books for several hours a day largely won’t be criticized for it, those who play video games for the same amount of time often are. 

video-games-1136041_640Video games of virtually any kind can help children to better learn and practice skills to better navigate challenges in life. These benefits are varied and include improvements in perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. For example, action games often have the player tracking multiple objects, actions, and events going on at once, forcing players to quickly analyze what’s on screen and make a decision as to what to do. This increases a person’s ability to make decisions quickly, multitask, and discern and keep track of multiple objects at once, in addition to building their memory capacity. The most widely known function improved by action video games in particular is hand-eye-coordination. Even games as simple as Angry Birds can teach children how to interact with the world around them through the practice they gain in manipulating the world of the game. 

Video games often increase a kid’s desire to learn, since things presented in the form of a game automatically become more fun. The popular Pokemon game series undoubtedly helped many young children learn how to read, filling most every game with text that needed to be read in order to advance to the next step. Additionally, many puzzle games will necessitate good knowledge of mathematics to play and solve, and can increase children’s logical reasoning, thereby helping them in math classes. Even history can be made fun; the game Civilization, for instance, tasks players with building a civilization from the ground up. The game draws from real-world civilizations and cultures, teaching kids about history in the process. This video game franchise also incorporates politics, economics, and strategy into its regular gameplay. Children have shown a greater responsiveness in learning school subjects after exposure to video games that allow them to explore the content and concepts.

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A prevailing notion is that video games are bad for both your physical as well as mental health. However, stress relief is the number one cited health benefit of regular video gaming. Video games can help children reduce their stress, staving off depression and anxiety, therefore allowing them to better focus on their schoolwork and grades. Gaming is also a great mood reliever, allowing children to get out their aggressions in a controlled and practical way. People with disorders such as dyslexia have also found great improvements in managing their  challenges through regular video game playing. In certain studies, noted improvements were as great or even greater than those achieved by programs specifically designed to treat dyslexia. More recent scientific findings have also found interesting support for a new notion that video games may help address challenges associated with autism. pokemon-1581771_640

Video games have been proven to provide a vast variety of benefits to people of all ages – especially children, as they are still growing and developing. But as with anything, video games should be played in moderation and parents should carefully vet the games before allowing children to play them (a safe choice is any game made by Nintendo). In the end, even something as simple as the recent Pokemon Go can benefit kids, by persuading them to go outside, get exercise, and experience the world around them.