Since the first Atari system made its way into the hands of adolescents, parents have been complaining that videos games are nothing but time wasters. If you have ever wondered about the effects of video games on children, we may have some good news for you...and those worried moms. A recent study done at the University of Rochester reports that video games
don’t rot your brain like your mother always said they would. In fact, the study uncovered many unexpected positive effects of video games.
The research wing of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Center at the University of Rochester, considered one of the best in the country for its long history of studying unique elements of brain function, also decided to question the effects of video games on children. Their 2003 study, done on the potential benefits of the regular use of video game systems, was completed in a matter that fosters their sterling reputation. Researchers contrasted the brain function of individuals who played high action video games, such as Metal Gear: Solid or Goldeneye 007, with individuals who rarely or never played video games. The results of the study revealed that there are indeed many positive effects of video games.
Effects of Video Games on Children
Among the reported positive effects of video games, the results of the study showed that regular video game users were able to intake, retain, and understand visual information better and faster than non-players. Furthermore, the study showed that regular use of video game systems improved overall vision, particularly peripheral vision. Other studies done over the past twenty years have also praised the mental benefits of using video game consoles, reporting that they help improve physical dexterity, hand and eye coordination, and rapid response capability. It is also important to note that while the physical beneficial effects of video games on children, including interactive video game systems, like the Wii, have already been studied; their positive impact on brain function has yet to be officially published. However, you can bet that when studies do begin to emerge on this aspect of video game playing that it will be just as complimentary, if not more, than those studies already done.
The bottom line: playing several hours a week of Guitar Hero or Grand Theft Auto is more than just a way to unwind, it is a way to stimulate brain function and develop your learning and interpretation capacities. What’s even better is that the research doesn’t indicate that any video game consoles are better than another, meaning whatever you have access to – be it a Wii, Play Station, or Xbox – will be equally able to provide benefits.
Looks like all those nagging mothers out there may need to eat their words and apologize to gamers everywhere for doubting the worth of the almighty video game. Now you have the scientific facts to prove something you probably knew all along: playing a video game is a good use of your time. So the next time someone gets on your case for playing too much Super Mario Brothers or Legend of Zelda, tell them you aren’t just playing a game, you are improving you are soaking in the positive effects of video games. And then pass over your second controller so they too can improve their cognitive and visual functioning!
Adults who play a lot of action video games may be improving their eyesight, U.S. researchers say. "We've found that action video games train the brain to process the existing visual information more efficiently, and the improvements last for months after game play stopped.”