Video games are both harmful and beneficial to children. We understand where this line is and why it exists

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It is generally accepted that video games negatively affect the mental and even physical state of the younger generation – they cause aggression, interfere with school performance and lead to absent-mindedness. And, of course, do not forget about bad posture, the impact on vision, and in certain scenarios, the hearing of the child. But the studies of real scientists demonstrate the exact opposite – experts are sure that in reasonable “doses” video games are useful and have a positive effect on the development of thought processes. True, we are not talking about all the video games in which modern teenagers spend tens or even hundreds of hours.

Statistics speak for themselves: gamers have better brains

Recently, at the end of 2022, Nora Volkov, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, spoke about the results of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development program – this is the largest study in US history on the development of the child’s brain. The program was launched in 2018 – scientists selected children from all over the country, after which they divided them into two groups. The first group includes children who were classified as “gamers” – they spend at least 21 hours or more in video games per week. The second group consists of children who do not play video games. There is no intermediate category in this case for more visual results.

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And the participants of this program periodically undergo various examinations, the results of which are recorded and analyzed. For example, they take many tests for visualization, cognition, mental health, memory, physical health, and more. In total, the program has 2,217 participants aged nine to ten, and so far the results of the study show that “gamers” cope with the tests much better than those who do not play games. Experts note that in children in this category, brain activity patterns are very different from children who do not spend time in video games – “gamers” showed higher activity in areas of the brain that are responsible for attention and memory.

Video games are both harmful and beneficial to children.  We understand where this line is and why it exists

At the same time, importantly, there are no differences in mental health between the two groups of study participants – this is clear evidence that video games cannot directly affect the mental health of a child, increase his level of aggression or anxiety. According to the largest study in this area, video games do not affect the emotional state of the child. And the results of the same study clearly demonstrate the fact that “gamers” have an advantage over “non-gamers” in certain areas where the more active areas of the brain of the first category test subjects are involved.

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Scientists liked the results so much that they even plan to create video games based on the collected data that will help children treat cognitive disorders. For example, experts believe that certain video games will solve the problem of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child, DeepWell Digital Therapeutics wants to use video games in a therapeutic direction. However, and we will return to this later, the authors of the study note that some gaps in information still require detailed study and work for many years.

For example, experts note that as part of the study, they only asked the child about his addictions to video games – the test participant indicated the time he spends on this entertainment. But what kind of video games a child plays, what genres he prefers and how this affects test results are unanswered questions. Scientists agree that some games are beneficial, while others will do more harm than help a teenager’s brain activity. There is still a lot of work to be done in this direction, but in fact, even without scientists, you can try to figure out which genres will benefit and which ones will only harm development and academic performance. This is what I did next.

Shooters, strategy, racing and simulation – just what you need

The idea that video games can be of some benefit to a child or teenager is actually more than understandable and logical. To agree with this opinion, it is enough to go to any children’s toy store and go to the department where most of the products presented are marked with the mark “3+”. With a high degree of probability, on the shelves of this department you will find a lot of toys created on the basis of geometric shapes – cubes, rhombuses, triangles, circles and pyramids. Such designers for the smallest are designed to develop the child’s imaginative thinking, the ability to recognize geometric shapes and an understanding of the difference between them.

Such sets with different figures have probably existed since prehistoric times – a child plays with cubes and pyramids, builds something, developing a lot of talents in himself. Now compare the basic principles of this set and the mechanics of Minecraft. Both scenarios involve interacting with geometric shapes, building something based on your imagination and imaginative thinking, understanding the basic laws of geometry and physics. Only if with the constructor the child has a thousand combinations of the final structure, then the same child in Minecraft has billions.

Video games are both harmful and beneficial to children.  We understand where this line is and why it exists

The same with shooters, for example. “Shooters” develop in children and adolescents reaction speed, accuracy, eye, muscle memory (fingers, for example, remember key combinations and press them at the level of automaticity) and much more. Today’s kids know the Warzone 2.0 map to the pixel, they can run through any CS:GO map with their eyes closed and instantly react to any changes that occur on the monitor. This, of course, is also due to the fact that the child’s brain is simply not yet clogged with a mass of unnecessary information, but their reaction is noticeably better. And this is noticeable not only on the virtual battlefield, but also in many other situations in the real world. For example, in the process of playing sports, solving various kinds of puzzles in the process of doing homework, even searching for information on the Internet.

Strategies teach how to properly use the resources provided, manage multiple units and develop several settlements at once, and multiplayer projects allow you to develop communication skills and become more sociable. What’s more, some video games are tritely broadening one’s horizons – in racing simulators a child can understand cars, a builder’s simulator will tell you how to pour a foundation, and stuff like that. But for this, the child does not need to go to a special educational institution or go to a construction site – he can literally get valuable knowledge and a general idea of ​​\u200b\u200bthe profession without getting up from the table.

No horror, uncensored games and long gaming sessions

At the same time, it must be remembered that some video games really cause irreparable harm to the psyche of the child. This, of course, is about horror and many projects in which censorship is simply not provided. Accordingly, a child in such releases has every chance to see what he should not see until his psyche gets stronger due to age. In addition, do not forget about the various genres of video games that force you to literally live in a virtual world. Any titles that cause addiction should be avoided – and not only for children, but also for adults. And it’s also better to forget about multiplayer games, which are literally a hotbed of toxicity and aggression. Although they develop sociability, they do disproportionately more harm than good.

Video games are both harmful and beneficial to children.  We understand where this line is and why it exists

And, of course, everything should be in moderation. Shooters are really capable of developing a reaction, but if a child after school throws a backpack on the bed and goes to kill enemies during a ten-hour session, after which he goes to sleep, and so on in a circle, then you should definitely not expect the development of mental abilities. Of course, there is always a chance that a teenager will become an esports player and win many thousands of dollars, but more often than not, such a pastime only leads to a terrible level of education and low grades, poor eyesight and posture. Video games are useful, but they need to be dosed, diluted with other activities – only in this case Minecraft or CS: GO will bring benefits, not harm.

Source: Trash Box

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