Video games are a trademark commodity in our modern, technologically driven culture. Although undoubtedly entertaining, considerable debate remains as to their relative positive or negative impacts on individuals and society. Even though studies regarding this issue are relatively new, they can still provide insight into the benefits and drawbacks of this popular pastime.
Positive Effects of Video Games
Numerous studies have examined the pros and cons of video gaming. Here are just a few that have found video games provide distinct advantages to their players.
Video games improve basic visual processes
According to Psychology Today, playing video games has been shown to increase players’ ability to distinguish subtle differences in shades of gray, a phenomenon known as “visual contrast sensitivity.” They may also improve the eyesight of the visually impaired and help players increase their ability to visually detect the direction of movement.
Video games can enhance executive functioning
“Executive functioning” is the term used for a person’s ability to rapidly and efficiently solve problems. Video games can help improve multitasking, increase mental flexibility and even reverse the mental decline that occurs as people age.
Video games can improve everyday skills
Playing video games has been found to enhance hand-eye coordination, lengthen attention spans and improve both working memory and rapid decision-making abilities.
Video games may help ease anxiety and depression
Both anecdotally and scientifically, video games have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. For example, Scientific American reported that the game Tetris may actually ease the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In forums such as Geek and Sundry, authors describe how video games may help those who have social anxiety disorder learn how to initiate relationships and learn about social cues.
Negative Effects of Video Games
While video games have been touted for their advantages, evidence also suggests that playing them may be detrimental.
Video games can make people more violent
According to The Telegraph, researchers have found a direct link between violent video games and an increase in aggressive behavior. This applies particularly to “shoot-em-up” games that simulate firearms.
Video games may decrease players’ ability to concentrate
A study published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture found a correlation between the length of time individuals play video games and their ability to remain focused. The study also suggested that playing video games may exacerbate the impulsiveness of individuals who already have this inclination.
Video games can become addictive
A university study found that one in 10 youth gamers is “addicted;” their playing habits cause family, social, school or psychological damage. Treatment programs combating video game addiction have cropped up across the world, including in the United States, South Korea and the Netherlands.
Video games may increase depression and anxiety
While it’s true that video games can help combat anxiety and depression, other studies have shown that they might cause or exacerbate these conditions instead. A study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, for example, found that fifth-graders who play video games two or more hours a day are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who play less.
While the arguments on both sides of this debate continue, conclusions as to whether video games are ultimately “good” or “bad” lie with the reader. The truth is most likely somewhere in between, with allowances made for personal circumstances and preferences.
Digital Culture, Real World
Video games are just a small part of the fascinating and developing world of modern digital culture. For those who want to increase their understanding of 21st-century technology, the online computer science degree from Concordia University Texas can provide an educational foundation for success. The program equips students with the skills they need to master current technology and prepare for future developments in the field.