Table of Contents
- Why Video Games
- Cognitive Benefits
- Physical Health Benefits
- Social and Emotional Health Benefits
Why Video Games
It may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but playing video games can help improve your mental, physical and emotional health.
You will improve in several ways that you never expected, whether you are playing Call of Duty alone or World of Warcraft with your friends, there are some important health benefits that you can derive from playing video games.
Challenging, complex and ambitious, contemporary video games have changed considerably compared to the straightforward arcade titles you played in the 1970s.
There is mounting evidence which suggests that the health benefits of playing video games go far beyond better hand-eye coordination.
Here are some of the health benefits of playing video games.
Help Overcome Dyslexia
Video games can help overcome dyslexia.
Research studies indicate that difficulty to maintain attention is a vital element of dyslexia.
A recent study found that dyslexics significantly improved their reading comprehension after moderate to long sessions of action-oriented games.
The main reason, according to researchers, is that these video games feature constantly changing environments, requiring intense focus which helped people with dyslexia improve concentration. (1)
Video games can help develop creativity as they guide and compel us to think out of the box.
Creative thinking applies whether you are planning your next move or a whole new mission or quest.
This fact applies equally to video games like The Sims and Minecraft.
Enhance Cognitive Function
Playing video games can help improve your cognitive functions and memory.
This fact has been known for a long time and supplemented by various research studies.
Processes such as pattern recognition, attention to detail, problem-solving and hand-eye coordination get more exercised as you play video games and get better as a result.
Improve Decision-Making Skills
Indecision can often lead to adverse mental health effects, which is where video games can come to your rescue.
Playing games can hone your ability to make faster and more decisive choices to get the preferred or desired outcome.
It is not usually about making the correct decision, as it is likely you will not, just like in your personal life.
The focus is, rather on, developing decision-making abilities in the first place.
Our lives are plagued by stress nowadays, and information overload is the main culprit.
However, video games can help you reduce stress.
Video games achieve this by refocusing and redirecting your attention.
Engaging in a fun and entertaining gaming session can be a relaxing and welcoming retreat from a hard and stressful day.
Also, video games teach you spur-of-the-moment planning and reactionary tactics because they tend to throw things randomly at you.
Reduced Risk of Nightmares
Playing video games can give you greater control over your dreams and reduce nightmares, as noted by a psychological research at Grant MacEwan University. (2)
Many other studies have indicated that gamers are likely to be vivid or lucid dreamers, meaning they can control what is happening in the dreams consciously.
Improve Brain Speed
Video games can improve your brain speed.
During gaming, your brain tends to receive multiple stimulations, both audio and visual.
According to several research studies, people who frequently play video games can process these stimulations much faster than other individuals who do not play video games.
These stimulations ensure your brain is constantly working to interpret them.
Bolster Gray Matter
Video gaming is also associated with an increase in the brain’s gray matter.
A study published, by German scientists at the Max Planck, in Molecular Psychiatry noted that people who played Super Mario 64 had an increase in their brain size. (3)
This increase was noted in those parts of the brain that are responsible for memory formation, spatial orientation, and strategic planning.
When the scientists examined the 25 participants, who played the video game for about thirty minutes each day for more than two months, with an MRI machine it was noted they had more grey matter in the right prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus as well as the cerebellum, compared to another group that had not played the game.
Improve Problem-Solving Skills
Video games can considerably improve your problem-solving skills.
All video games have their specific rules.
This means, as a player, you have to carefully think before you make any move or decision to ensure you stay within the rules and limitations imposed by that game.
You have to make numerous split-second decisions that determine if you will progress to the next stage or not.
Players get familiar with finding solutions and usually try repeatedly to achieve success.
Also, the ease of starting a game again from the stage or level of failure lets game players know that failure is not all bad and they can start again with a new solution.
Another health benefit of video games is that they can enhance your memory.
Playing a video game usually requires you to use both audio and visual memory.
You may have to listen or read several instructions which are only provided at the start of the video game, thereby requiring you to remember them during the rest of the game.
Also, mastery of various keys on the controller or keyboard will help you move your character in the video game.
This can improve your short-term and long-term memory.
Concrete and immediate feedback in most video games (in the form of coins, points or dead ends in puzzle games) serves and rewards persistent and continual effort.
This helps to keep gamers in a motivational sweet spot and usually balances the optimal level of frustration and challenge with adequate experience of accomplishment and success.
This reinforces motivational and positive attitudes.
Playing video games can enhance your ability to focus.
In fact, video games are currently being used, in many research facilities, to fight various attention deficit disorders that have become quite common in children.
A majority of modern video games need plenty of focus which is usually apparent right from the beginning of a game and time tends to fly by much quicker.
This is because players are immersed in the game.
This helps to improve the ability to focus, especially in children.
Video games can do loads of good to a player’s self-confidence.
Regularly playing and winning different video games can provide a considerable boost to a person’s self-confidence.
This can be especially relevant and important in cases where a person lacks self-confidence because of failures and disappointments in real life situations.
The self-confidence from playing games may translate into the person’s real life and help him grow into a more positive and balanced individual.
Reverse Decline of Brain Function
The quick-thinking abilities and skills needed in games could be more helpful compared to crossword puzzles when it comes to retarding or reversing the decline in your brain function that is associated with the aging process.
In a study at the University of Iowa, 680 adults with age of more than 50 years were divided into two groups to complete a crossword puzzle or play a video game, in the adventure genre, called Road Tour. (4)
On every next stage of the video game, gamers had less time to finish their games, meaning they had to rely more on their processing and quick-thinking skills to finish their games.
After gaming for ten hours on a daily basis, either in their homes or at the lab, video game players accumulated the equivalent of nearly three years of cognitive reserve, as per the calculations of the researchers, when tested a year later on mental skills.
This suggests that the players exhibited cognitive functions that were capable of holding off a decline in their memory and several executive functions like reasoning and planning for nearly three years compared with participants who solved crossword puzzles.
Physical Health Benefits
Playing video games can enhance your vision.
Scientists have discovered that video games, especially in moderation, can improve your vision instead of straining it. A study revealed that ten weeks of video game play was linked with a better ability, among participants, to discern between various shades of gray. (5)
In another study, participants played video games with just their impaired eye and kept the good one obscured. (6)
These participants showed moderate to significant improvement in their affected eye.
Increase Activity Level
Playing video games can help you become more active, as compared to other leisure activities.
Advancements in games have come a long way when it comes to incorporating physical movement.
Wii Fit and Just Dance are excellent examples of video games that improve your posture, provide you a thorough workout and help you shed weight.
Also, sports games involving soccer, basketball or tennis can urge players to practice these skills outdoors.
Reduce Chronic Pain
In 2010, research presented at the American Pain Society at its annual meeting suggested that video games, particularly the ones that focus on virtual reality, are effective at reducing pain associated with chronic illness or medical procedures. (7)
The study showed that when individuals are undergoing serious treatments, like chemotherapy, were engrossed in a virtual video gaming environment; they reported considerably less fear and stress.
Gaming also leads to a greater release of endorphins in the human brain; this chemical is usually linked with happiness and can numb pain and discomfort.
Video games can help curb appetite considerably.
When you are playing video games, your brain is completely occupied and engaged in the various tasks that you need to accomplish.
It is unlike watching TV programs or movies, which usually trigger mindless snacking.
In case of video games, your brain is engrossed, and the temptation to snack or binge-eat often takes a backseat.
Improve Motor Skills
Video games can improve your motor skills.
You must have heard that video gamers make better surgeons, because of the precise hand-eye coordination.
Who would have thought of that!
Studies indicate that the intricate and subtle movements involved in playing video games, along with snappy reasoning and thinking, are key contributors that lead to better motor skills.
Help with Stroke Recovery
Video games can help stroke patients recover fully.
In a study, people who experienced a stroke, two to seven years before the study, were divided into two groups.
Participants in the first group performed routine rehabilitation exercises, while those in the second group played games on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.
The benefits of video games were clear in numerous ways.
Although both the groups improved in aspects such as grip, the group of video gamers showed continued improvement in hand and arm strength after the treatment.
These gamers performed nearly double the number of hands and arm movements each session; also, their movements were goal-oriented rather than repetitive exercises.
Social and Emotional Health Benefits
Playing video games can help you forge social connections.
Gaming is a social activity, and this has been known for a long time.
Gaming sessions can help you grow socially in today’s digital age.
Online and immersive video games that are collaborative connect individuals from all across the world to achieve game-oriented goals and develop stronger bonds.
Enhance Multitasking Ability
Video games can considerably improve multitasking ability in older folks.
In a research study, an adult group of people between the ages of sixty and eighty-five was asked to play a video game for twelve hours for a month.
After six months of gaming, these adults were not only better at multitasking, but managed to retain more information over short periods of time and had superior attention skills.
Keep Seniors Happy
Video games can keep people happy in their old age.
Researchers at the North Carolina State University examined the elderly folks to determine if there was any link between mental well-being and playing video games.
They noted that senior citizens who played video games reported higher levels of well-being compared to their counterparts who did not engage in gaming and reported negative feelings and emotions.
Help Treat Chronic Diseases
Video games can be therapeutic for kids with chronic diseases.
According to a study at The University of Utah that analyzed the effects of video gaming on children with illnesses such as depression, autism, and Parkinson’s disease, children who regularly play games, exhibited signs of considerable improvement in areas like empowerment, resilience, and a fighting spirit.
Boost Emotional Health
Video games can help you control your emotions.
Some contend that gaming is one of the most effective and efficient ways for youth and children to generate positive emotions.
A very strong argument in favor of video games is that they often allow us to develop simulations of complicated and intricate systems.
Players place themselves within these complex systems and practice hard to navigate the specific challenges posed by that system.
In a broad context, by developing very realistic simulations that tend to elicit quite strong emotional responses (which can be positive or negative), commercial video games offer gamers a unique opportunity to regulate their different emotions.
For players, the accomplishment of different goals in the game feels important and knowing that they are controlling a character avatar using their controllers, instead of throwing actual fireballs, assures that space is safe for modulating or controlling negative emotions to serve the game’s objectives.
Boost Team Spirit
It goes without saying that playing online multiplayer games help to improve team spirit in both youth and children.
There is no denying that playing sports and real games help more in building team spirit but video games can also achieve the same result.
Video games like Call of Duty and DOTA need excellent teamwork and collaboration among various team members.
Also, they also teach players to fulfill their specific roles and focus on the goals of the team rather than trying to be sole heroes all the time.
Improve Communication Skills
Playing video games can improve your communication skills.
Most people tend to worry that playing games, on a frequent basis, will make their kids socially awkward or anti-social.
However, to most peoples’ surprise, the fact is that playing video games can help improve both communications as well as social skills.
Team and online gaming require precise and clear communication.
A majority of video games nowadays usually have some social element to them and players frequently meet interesting and new people online and learn how to make friends.
Although we have enumerated several important and some surprising health benefits of playing video games, do not use this as a justification to spend endless hours in front of your TV or computer screens every day.
We strongly believe in limitation and moderation.
Similar to eating junk food and chocolate, it is an ideal case of doing things in moderation.
This means you must go outside and engage in various physical activities.
Many social benefits of video games that we listed, simply cannot overshadow the benefits and importance of physically getting together with your friends and peers.
If you have a PS4 or an Xbox One in your home, try to limit your playing time to weekends.
This will help you keep your focus on the family during the weekdays but still let you enjoy some fun and adventurous gaming for a couple of hours per week to get the benefits.
As video gaming consoles are now a familiar sight in a majority of the homes, it is important to bear in mind the mounting popularity of online gaming, where players get to interact and communicate with other plenty of gamers via the internet.
Therefore, parents should be mindful of the online games their kids have access to and should be aware of how the kids communicate with other players during online gaming sessions.
It is very tough to regulate online gaming in a way similar to physical software because there is no responsibility on independent game developers to establish parental controls on the video games and it is straightforward for children to access inappropriate or restricted content.
You have plenty of good reasons to play video games.
And yes, some of these reasons are ridiculously good, but still, play them in moderation.
You can spend about 30 minutes to an hour per day on video games, preferably at the end of your day.
Children can derive plenty of benefits from gaming, but they still need to go outside and take part in healthy activities.
As parents, you can urge them.
You do not have to ban all video games, but should encourage other activities and traditional means of socializing.
This will help your kids develop into well-rounded and balanced individuals.
One can’t simply deny the several benefits of gaming such as improvement in various physical and mental skills along with the cognitive benefits of video gaming.
You can improve your decision-making skills and memory which will make it much easier to deal with stress and personal and workplace problems.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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