In this modern age of electronic plenitude, some parents, educators and health professionals may be wondering, “Are video games good for us?” Certainly some will want to know if they are bad, which is what one researcher set out to determine. Professor Mark Griffiths has spent considerable time studying the effects, good and bad, that playing video games have on children and young adults. He discusses some of his findings in an article titled, “Playing video games is good for your brain” (Griffiths).
According to Professor Griffiths, some of the very facets of video game playing that we think contribute to bad behaviors might actually be considered healthy. For instance, in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), studies found that there is increased social activity leading to lifelong friendships and partnerships. Additionally, “it was concluded that virtual gaming may allow players to express themselves in ways they may not feel comfortable doing in real life because of their appearance, gender, sexuality, and/or age. MMORPGs also offer a place where teamwork, encouragement, and fun can be experienced” (Cole and Griffiths).
Certainly the social interaction in itself can be considered a valuable side effect of video gaming. Comradery among gamers can be quite strong and for most, this online community is the only place they feel free to express themselves without fear of repercussion just for being themselves. Also, understandably, this social activity should not completely supplant real, physical interaction among people, but can be used as a valid therapeutic tool.
Other positive side effects of playing video games come in the form of “improved performance in perception, attention and cognition” (Griffiths). In fact, action gamers have been shown to have improved these skills during game play (Bejjanki, Zhang and Li). It seems that playing video games can actually be good for us. At least there are definitely some positive benefits for many people. And for parents, maybe just some moderation is warranted for the game playing kiddos. A good balance of physical activity and a little video gaming sounds like a healthy kid.
Bejjanki, Vikranth R, et al. “Action video game play facilitates the development of better perceptual templates.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.47 (2014): 16961-16966. Web. <http://www.pnas.org/content/111/47/16961.abstract>.
Cole, Helena and Mark D. Griffiths. “Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 10.4 (2007): 575-583. Web.
Griffiths, Mark. “Playing video games is good for your brain.” The Washington Post 11 November 2014. Web. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/11/playing-video-games-is-good-for-your-brain/>.