Video gaming is clearly a popular form of entertainment, with video gamers collectively spending 3 billion hours per week in front of their screens. Due to their widespread use, scientists have researched how video games affect the brain and behavior. Are these effects positive or negative? We examine the evidence.
Video games and game apps DO affect our brains and can literally shape their structure as well as affecting our behavior. Video games had the strongest impact on those brain regions responsible for attention and visualization. What surprised me though, was that taken together the studies revealed that video games actually made those brain areas more efficient.
Video game use is known to affect attention. The studies included in the review show that video game players display improvements in several types of attention, including sustained attention and selective attention. Furthermore, the regions of the brain that play a role in attention are more efficient in gamers compared with non-gamers, and they require less activation to stay focused on demanding tasks.
Evidence also demonstrates that playing video games increases the size and competence of parts of the brain responsible for visuospatial skills – a person’s ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects. In long-term gamers and individuals who had volunteered to follow a video game training plan, the right hippocampus was enlarged.
“It’s likely that video games have both positive (on attention, visual and motor skills) and negative aspects (risk of addiction), and it is essential we embrace this complexity.
Video gaming and violence have failed to reach consensus among scientists. Scientists have been unable to find a causal link between playing video games and acts of violence in the real world.
In gaming addicts, there are functional and structural alterations in the neural reward system – a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, learning, and motivation. Exposing video game addicts to game-related cues that cause cravings, and monitoring their brain responses, highlighted these changes – changes that are also seen in other addictive disorders.
“We focused on how the brain reacts to video game exposure, but these effects do not always translate to real-life changes,” effects of video gaming is still in its infancy and scientists are still scrutinizing what aspects of gaming impact what brain regions and how.
A growing body of evidence, however, shows that video gaming can affect the brain and, furthermore, cause changes in many regions of the brain.
The issue is not only about video games, but rather the amount of time which kids spend with devices. The problem of bad eyesight can’t be solved with screen protectors or sitting “not so close to the tablet.” It’s really about limiting the time and encouraging the minors to play outside more.
Sometimes children can be misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia when it’s really a vision problem. Thus parents should watch any differences in how their minors observe the objects, read, play. If kids used to be very interested in reading or drawing and all of a sudden they start losing their place during reading – it may be a sign of bad eyesight.
Every mom and dad must understand that myopia impedes the ability to learn properly at school. “Learning is 80% visual, and we need a good vision to learn,”
Spending extra 40 minutes a day outdoors for three years resulted in a reduction in the rate of myopia in children. Optometrists say that sunlight plays an important role in protecting vision. The reason why that’s the best healing is that it triggers dopamine, a neurotransmitter that keeps an eye from getting too elongated during childhood. Moreover, there are more objects that people can observe on the long distance – to train the ocular muscles.
“So as the eye is maturing, if it stretches too long it becomes more and more nearsighted.