The Positive Effects of Gaming for Children’s Mental Abilities

Video games are typically seen as a nuisance to kids’ learning. In a very traditional household setting, video games are banned on weekdays and thus, can only be played on weekends after all schoolwork is finished. For a long time, the general public considered playing video games as nothing but a recreational activity that was detrimental to a child’s learning; it was even thought to provoke violence among children, but several research studies and experts have claimed otherwise.

Dozens of studies were conducted to prove the correlation between hours played and the cognitive benefits of playing video games. One recent study, conducted in 2018 by Benoit Bediou, affirms that there is a strong correlation between the number of hours played and the results on tests of perception, top-down attention, spatial cognition, multitasking, and cognitive flexibility or the ability to adapt and change approach quickly when solving a problem. In addition, the researchers concluded that even just 10 to 30 hours of gaming can actually improve a person’s performance and mental capability as shown in the results of their experiment.

With the ubiquity of video games today, the positive effects of gaming are being more widely accepted among parents because of studies like this that back up its cognitive benefits in a child’s mental development. In fact, Dr. James Paul Gee of the University of Washington-Madison asserted that video games even improves a person’s ability to carefully follow directions, which is a critical trait in good learning. With this in mind, parents are more accepting of new learning methods for their children. Statistically speaking, a report from GamingScan even showed that 70% of parents actually believe that video games have a positive influence in their children’s lives, though it is also important to note that about 90% of parents are involved in choosing the type of game suited for their child. 

Now that we have established the fact that positive health benefits from playing video games is scientifically true, here are some reasons why gaming is helpful for your child’s mental growth. 

Strategy games increases creativity and problem-solving skills.

Strategy games stimulate brain activity. It impels the child to think of creative solutions to a problem but still playing within the game’s ground rules and directives. Games provide a platform for kids to interactively learn things by the very act of “doing” or through trial and error. In addition, strategy games open up avenues for children to express themselves and their imagination in more inventive ways. 

Multiplayer games foster teamwork and enhance leadership abilities.

Video games with multiplayer functions, on the other hand, urges camaraderie and teamwork among players. Not only it encourages friendly competitions, but it also offers players an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership capabilities and enhance their communication skills with other players. Success in social competence, for instance, is a life skill that is highly linked to video gaming as shown in the results of the research conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Mental Health among children aged 6 to 11 years old. 

Action-based games help players make faster decisions.

According to cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester, playing action-based video games actually trains the brain to heighten situational awareness and sensitivity in order to make accurate decisions at a much faster rate. In another study, they have found that individuals who play action games actually make decisions 25% faster than their non-gamer counterparts. In exchange, being able to have faster decision-making skills indicates a greater capacity to multitask and quicker information processing. 

Gaming boosts attention and concentration. 

Video games boost focus, selective attention, and concentration. The call to achieve a goal necessitates the attention of the player to focus on creating ways to reach that objective by focusing on relevant information and eliminating distractions. A 2018 article published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience validates that theory upon performing an experiment on 29 male students testing their ability to narrow down their focus and block out irrelevant or less important information after playing for an hour. Researchers found out that both brain activity and visual selective attention increased after playing a video game.