Video games have become an American pastime for many generations. In recent years, more children in the U.S. are becoming addicted to video games. This addiction has serious health implications for these children as well as many adults. The benefits of playing video games are numerous and reach far beyond the simple enjoyment of playing the latest title. This article will explore some of the benefits of video games for kids.
Playing video games improves hand-eye coordination and increased reaction time. The study indicates that video game players also develop a heightened sensibility to what's going on around them, which not only makes them better at performing video games, but also improves a wide spectrum of non-cognitive skills, which will help with day-to-day activities such as: hand-eye coordination, motor skill development, and cognitive performance. In the study, participants played various computer games designed to test their reactions to space, time, and other cues which the brain uses to process information. These tests were then followed by neuro-linguistic analysis of brain activity which revealed enhanced brain functioning and plasticity - the ability to change one's brain structure and function.
Another benefit of playing video games is improving their memory and cognitive performance. Children who spent time playing games were found to have improved short-term memory recall, and a greater ability to process information. They also showed an enhanced ability to solve problems and learn new things. Interestingly, the improvements in both learning and problem solving did not appear to disappear over time. In fact, the researchers discovered that even after spending time playing the computer games, children showed better performance on a battery of cognitive assessments administered post-play.
Neuro-linguistic programming also predicts that action video games may help improve visual spatial abilities for users. A specific experiment showed that action video games may help users react faster and recognize certain symbols quicker than those who simply looked at the symbols on a screen. In another experiment, preschool children showed a greater understanding of directions and space when given a chance to take part in an action video game than they did when they simply watched a TV show or magazine. In addition, the researchers observed that adults who play more action video games tend to perform better in mental tasks such as completing a crossword or word puzzle, than do adults who play more passive games.
Finally, the researchers observed that there are direct benefits to playing video games. The improved spatial recognition and action oriented skills they observed, directly support one of the primary benefits of gaming: cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to change mental states and attitudes, and the ability to adapt to different tasks to changing environments. Individuals who are flexible are able to mentally respond to stimuli in a positive manner, without necessarily being fully engaged in a particular activity. Individuals who can flex their cognitive flexibility are less likely to be frustrated by unfamiliar situations, are more successful in completing tasks that require quick mental response, and are capable of exercising more control over their emotional responses and physical reactions in a variety of settings.
Playing video games is a great way to improve your cognitive abilities and increase your mental flexibility. However, you don't have to choose between them. Engage both cognitively and physically when playing any single game. For example, if you choose to play a driving video game, you should not spend a majority of your time practicing steering, but at least 80% of your time should be spent behind the wheel. Similarly, if you choose to play a racing video game, you should spend a majority of your time driving, but you should not solely practice racing technique, but also drive aggressively and smoothly, all the while using your cognitive skills to maneuver the vehicle.