Are too much video games REALLY bad for you?


| 4 Comments
"Seth, time to get off that stupid box thing!" "Seth, if you keep playing video games, your brain will turn to mush!"  Those were some typical things I would here from my mother on a typical school afternoon when all I was just trying to do was collect a few skulls with MasterChief.  Halo fans everywhere can relate to me on that one.  However, it was not until I researched topics to write this blog that I uncovered some of the true nature of playing video games.  While there are undoubtedly negative effects of playing said video games, there are also plenty of positives which would seem to counter the stereotypes that parents share of their children playing video games.  
After researching the neurological effects of gaming, here are some of the types of things I conjured up.  Eric Rogell of the Discovery Channel wrote a brilliant article examining these very effects I'm talking about.  He talked about effects from violent video games, as well as general positives and negatives.  In terms of negatives, well most of it has to do with emotional response.  Rogell states that "violent content in games increases aggressive responses" and that "violent game play increases active suppression of emotional responses."  He also states that "long term playing can lead to obesity, attention problems, and poor school performance," things in which our society has already known for a while.  Other than that, most of these emotional responses are a direct result of violent action video games, such as Call of Duty.  It is my understanding that these same emotions do not derive from a game like Mario Party or Super Monkey Ball.  Compare that to the positives, and it appears the negatives are outweighed.  Rogell states that "games which require teamwork help develop collaboration skills" and games "can improve peripheral vision, way-finding skills, hand-eye coordination and mental rotation."  These are qualities that are derived from almost any and every game rather than just games centered around violence.  
When comparing results of brain activity and function, we see the same trend.  According to an article in Raisesmart kid, the repeated actions in gameplay can strengthen brain cell connections and help to improve learning skills and memory.  Additionally, areas of the brain such as the Premotor, Parietal Cortex, Prefrontal Cortex and the Dorsal Anterior CIngulate Cortex all shows signs of increased activity which can translate to more cognitive thinking, better planning skills, decision making skills, and sensory movements.  Playing video games can even release Dopamine, which can be involved in learning and feelings of reward.  All these combined can lead to innovations in parts of the brain and better activity which is hard to generate from other motor activities.  The notable negatives, according to Rogell, are that parts of the frontal lobe effected can alter moods and that "areas that resolve emotional conflict showed less activity while players fired a weapon and soon afterward."  Once again, only when they "fired a weapon." In a game which does not feature weapons, it is possible to generate mostly positive effects on the brain and possibly even no negatives at all other than contributions to obesity. It is clear that while there are clear negative effects as a result of gaming, there are also extraordinary positives involved as well.  So next time someone tells you your brain will turn to mush by playing too many video games, you will know what to say!

Sources: 1.http://dsc.discovery.com/life/this-is-your-brain-on-video-games-infographic.html
              2. http://www.raisesmartkid.com/3-to-6-years-old/4-articles/34-the-good-and-bad-effects-of-video-games

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4 Comments

I don't counter your argument that video games are benefitial to our visual cognition,reaction cortex,emotional relief and tons more reasons you have mentioned.I am a weirdo who keep a whole shebang of games in my laptop(to date,66!)But when I open that game folder,I just got a neuron signal that tells me I am just bored.So games can't really get me,and it's quite sad to the fact that I have dozens of games.However,as you briefly talked about,negative effects such as obesity,action problem,are something I concern more.Don't tell me get a life...I was once addicted to Diablo 3,and it really carried me away.In my opinion,the most crucial damage of the game addiction is the impairment of vision.I can't remember how many kids have gone from eyes of a hawker to ones of a near-blind.Mark this and we all know that to be a rational gamer,we ought to have great self-control with time.

I don't counter your argument that video games are benefitial to our visual cognition,reaction cortex,emotional relief and tons more reasons you have mentioned.I am a weirdo who keep a whole shebang of games in my laptop(to date,66!)But when I open that game folder,I just got a neuron signal that tells me I am just bored.So games can't really get me,and it's quite sad to the fact that I have dozens of games.However,as you briefly talked about,negative effects such as obesity,action problem,are something I concern more.Don't tell me get a life...I was once addicted to Diablo 3,and it really carried me away.In my opinion,the most crucial damage of the game addiction is the impairment of vision.I can't remember how many kids have gone from eyes of a hawker to ones of a near-blind.Mark this and we all know that to be a rational gamer,we ought to have great self-control with time.

Im really glad you wrote this post. I have always been an active person, playing multiple sports throughout my life and working out. However, I have always had a love for video games. Today with all the realistic games that are emerging, people are analyzing the harmful effects of these. Allowing children to play these games is ultimately the responsibility of their parents. The rating system they use warns parents of the adult content within the games. It seems to me that the major argument against violent video games is that they cause violent and aggressive behavior for individuals who play them. I did learn this year that this effect is real and can be observed in a lab setting. After playing violent video games people are more likely to give harsher punishments for crimes and exhibit more aggressive behavior overall. However, these effects were only observed shortly after playing the games. A few hours later the effects virtually were eliminated!

Jacob, we are similar you and I. Ive played multiple sports for 300 days a year since i was a little kid. I have also loved to play video games, Fifa being my favorite. I think the study you talked about is interesting. However, in my studies i found that the effects of violent video games were actually long-term as well, especially the loss of emotional response. However, i like that you talked about the parental figures. If it were only so easy as to tell parents and children that they can play sports games and games like the Super Mario games. The real issue, like that of Halo and COD is in the game itself rather than the gaming system.

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