The statement that video games are unhealthy is long gone with numerous studies concluding that video games are in fact, good for you!
That said, many might still find this difficult to believe after years of hearing things like “You’ll ruin your eyes if you keep staring at the screen,” or “Stop playing video games in your room, go outside!”
It might be even more believable to hear that your pet cat was the one swiping the snacks from the cupboards and not your child. (It’s probably just what the children want us to believe.)
To help turn your beliefs around, here are some of the benefits of video games extracted from research findings that you may surprise you.
1. Exercise for the brain
Recent studies have proven that playing video games could help the disabled and mentally ill improve their quality of life.
The main study, conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus in Berlin, compared two groups of a adults over two months with one group playing a video game (Super Mario 64) for 30 minutes daily and while the other group did not.
Results from the study showed that the group playing the video game had showed a size increase in several regions of the brain which are responsible for spatial orientation, memory, strategic planning and motor skills.
If an action game such as Super Mario 64 is able to improve brain functions, wouldn’t games developed specifically to train and challenge the brain bring additional benefits?
Video game publishers have claimed that these brain games of theirs will make you smarter. While this claim is still up for debate, what’s not being questioned is that brain games aren’t a complete waste of time. Many are able to see that anything that engages your brain is good practice even if it’s in the form of a video game.
Other brain game benefits include helping players get better with repeated tasks, as well as providing mental stimulation.
2. Practice for solving real world problems
Games give the opportunity to kids and teenagers to practice problem solving and strategy making.
Minecraft, for example, teaches kids how to create objects by combining different raw materials and to use these objects to explore environments and solve problems. Games like Civilization and SimCity teach problem solving in a more ‘realistic’ situation.
In SimCity, players need to build a city and keep it thriving. They must think ahead to consider how something like tax rate can effect the development of their city, or how street planning will impact a certain area in their city.
Players are also exposed to things like resource management and planning on a basic level. Learning these types of strategies can be applied to life as well.
3. Exercise for the body
How does video games help us exercise bodies you ask? Well, through exergames – video games that are also a form of exercise.
Exergames like the Wii Fit have experienced a huge resurgence in the last ten years thanks to companies like Nintendo and Konami. Getting through a song on Dance Dance Revolution or a boxing match on Wii Fit is definitely better than the workout session we never had.
Exergames and fitness video games have brought a new concept of exercising which resonates with many.
It is the convenience that makes these kinds of games appealing. No need to pop into the gym to get your calories burning when you can do it in the comfort of your home and without a gym membership. For parents and kids with packed schedules, games like these provide a quick way to get that 30 minutes of physical activity.
4. Better body coordination
From another physical aspect, video games can improve your eyesight. A study by the University of Rochester, and funded by the National Eye Institute and the Office of Naval Research, proved that video games enhance vision by making gamers more responsive to different shades of color. Players of action games for example had better perception of color contrast.
Other than that, video games have been proven to improve object motor skills in preschoolers. This includes skills like kicking, catching, throwing and bouncing a ball. Body-eye coordination can refined with the individuals having faster reflexes.
So, keep letting the children play video games?
We have seen that video games provide numerous benefits but as we all know, with pros comes the cons. There are reasons why video games have had a bad perception for years.
Video games, no matter how beneficial, needs to be consumed in moderation. Stay up all night or neglecting responsibilities like chores and homework does not work.
One last thing to add
Another benefit I would like to share is on learning to create your own game! Learning the skills need to create one with give that added advantage to kids and teens when it comes to securing dream internships and lucrative jobs in the future.