There has always been a lot of debate on whether video games are good or not and if they are not responsible for some of the ills of our youth. After all, video games can lead to addiction, becoming more aggressive, the occurrence of repetitive strain injuries, obesity due to lack of physical movement etc.
However, despite some of these negative effects, playing video games has a lot of benefits to brain health and overall well being. For example, even though many studies indicate that it can lead to poor socialization, online role-playing games have the opposite effect and can greatly improve social skills. So, with that said, we will now take a closer look at some of the benefits of video games in both kids and adults.
1. Increases Memory Capacity
According to a study done in 2015 with 69 participants, 23 were asked to play Angry Birds for 2 weeks, the other 23 were asked to play Super Mario 3D world for 2 weeks and the last 23 people were asked to not play anything. At the end of the 2 weeks, only the people who played Super Mario 3D world performed better on memory tasks than they did before playing the overwatch game.
The other two sets of people did not show any improvement on memory tasks. As a result, it was found that 3D video games provide a complex and engaging environment that stimulates the brain and improves memory significantly.
2. Good Source Of Pain Relief
There have been many studies that show that playing video games on a regular basis can help to alleviate anxiety and chronic pain. They can even help alleviate pain from medical procedures since they help to engage visual senses and other senses. As a result, if you suffer from any type of pain, you can look into using video games to help alleviate that pain in addition to medication.
3. Improves Reading Skills In Dyslexic Kids
There was a study done in 2013 where researchers investigated whether playing specific action type of video games such as ‘Rayman Raving Rabbids’ would help to dyslexic children who were aged between seven and thirteen. The results of this study showed that it did improve their reading outcomes in the same manner that traditional reading treatments worked.
However, playing video games were a lot more interesting and enjoyable for the children as opposed to the reading treatments. According to the researchers, they thought that the fast pace of the video games helped to increase the kid’s attention span, causing them to naturally improve their reading skills.
4. Reduces Trauma
Video games and in particular, Tetris, can be used to help reduce trauma. There was a study done in the hospital emergency department in Oxford UK where 37 patients were randomly selected to play 20 minutes of Tetris while others did not. The patients that played Tetris actually logged less flashbacks on the traumatic events that they experienced. So, playing video games and Tetris may just be a fantastic way to help people who deal with trauma and help them to recover from these events.
5. Increases Intelligence
There was a study published in 2013 in PLoS ONE that indicated that it is possible to increase intelligence through playing video games on an Xbox or PlayStation. The researchers took five groups of people who were not gamers and asked them to play a video game for one hour, every day for four weeks.
After the period had elapsed, they found that all the people that played video games had improved cognitive function and short-term memory. As a result, playing these types of games can be a great way to increase your IQ and improve cognitive function significantly.
6. Increase In Brain Matter
A study that was published in Molecular Psychiatry in 2014 showed that people who played Super Mario 64 increased the size of their brains. The parts of their brains that increased in size were those responsible for memory, fine motor skills, spatial orientation and strategic planning. In the study, they asked 24 participants to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes every day, for 2 months while being inside of an MRI machine.
As a result, they found that they all grew their grey brain matter, specifically in the cerebellum, right prefrontal cortex and right hippocampus in comparison to the control group that did not experience any brain growth. As a result, it was proven that you can train specific parts of your brain and it can be done through playing video games.
7. Improvements In Executive Functioning
A person’s executive functioning is their ability to allot their mental abilities such as their perception, memory and attention in order to solve problems and make decisions in a quick and efficient manner. Video games have been found to improve executive functioning in a wide range of people and can help you to engage in better multitasking.
8. Improvements In Mental Flexibility
There has been a lot of research that shows that people who play action-based video games, have greater mental flexibility. This means that they are able to quickly switch from one mentally demanding task to another completely different and demanding task, without any error or very low error.
9. Reverses Mental Decline
People are always striving to slow down aging and one of the more difficult types of aging to slow down, is mental. However, studies have shown that since video games help to improve mental flexibility, memory, executive functioning etc, they are also capable of slowing down and reversing mental decline. There have been many experiments with older participants and all of these studies show significant improvement in their mental state which helped to significantly improve their lives.
In closing, we have just looked at the numerous benefits of video games to brain health, which are all backed up by professional studies and experiments. Video games can truly help to improve your brain health, intelligence and overall quality of life, no matter what your age may be. As a result, you should consider playing these games on a regular basis to experience the benefits for yourself.