Many studies have been done on the negative effects on children who play video games. Video games are an easy target for people who want to put the blame on something for the social problems we face today. While there are negative sides to playing video games, there are also many positive ones that are far too often over-looked.
While the negative consequences are not to be forgotten, a new study published by The American Psychologist and reported by Forbes sets out to balance out constant barrage video gaming seems undertake. It states “Decades of valuable research on the effects of violent video games on children’s and adolescents’ aggressive behavior already exists, and this is indeed an important body of work to consider. However, we argue that in order to understand the impact of video games on children’s and adolescents’ development, a more balanced perspective is needed, one that considers not only the possible negative effects but also the benefits of playing these games.”
Violent Games Have An Effect - But Not The One You think
One of the main topics of conversation about video games is the affect that violent video games have on young people. Most people would say that playing video games is ineffectually lazy and sedating, However, studies show that playing video games develop a wide range of cognitive skills, particularly the “first person shooter” type games.
One of the most common video games played these days is the first person shooter which gives the player a gun and a first-person view of everything going on in the game, and they will play a game with other players where the first team to reach a certain amount of kills wins the match. In controlled testing, people who played these types of games “show faster and more accurate attention allocation, higher spatial resolution in visual processing, and enhanced mental rotation abilities.” In english, this means that a gamer will have a better and faster understanding of things going on around them. Teenagers who play video games also seem to have a better ability to solve problems and enhanced creativity.
Another portion of the study makes the distinction between two types of intelligence- entity theory of intelligence and incremental theory of intelligence. The entity theory states that when kids develop the entity theory of intelligence, they believe that they have fixed traits. If you praise them at being good for math as a 7 year old, they will believe that they are good at math on all levels, even if they are not. The incremental theory of intelligence states that when kids develop this attitude, they understand that they have certain skills and are praised for their efforts. Video games help children develop incremental intelligence. Video games can give kids (and adults) immediate feedback on their efforts, and balances levels of challenge and frustration that implement a feeling of accomplishment when they finally beat that last level.
One of the most powerful statements from the study says that “Gaming may be among the most efficient and effective means by which children and youth generate positive feelings.” Video games simulate situations that cause us to elicit strong emotional response, which trains us to control those emotions on a reasonable level. Some people become irrationally upset while others seem to maintain a normal level of reaction. Several studies have also shown a casual relation between playing preferred video games and improved mood. For example, playing a puzzle type video game with short term commitments and high levels of accessibility (Angry Birds or Candy Crush) can help you relax, improve your mood, and help with anxiety.
The Social Connection
The stigma that video games promote seclusion and isolation is also no longer true. In the past, video games were limited to one or two players, and only if you had enough controllers. Thanks to the internet, many video games are now multiplayer experiences. Some games can include sessions of hundreds of players, often working within a team to accomplish a common goal. Also, decisions need to be made quickly about who to trust, the best tactic to fight the opposing team, how to lead a group, and so on. The study suggests that given so many social contexts, gamers are “rapidly learning social skills and prosocial behavior that might generalize to their peer and family relations outside the gaming environment. Studies have also shown that gamers who play more social games tend to develop a helpful attitude, although this study was conducted without the inclusion of non-violent games.
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