Not really. But if the title got your attention, this article might be a good read for you. Similarly, you’re probably not reading this for a video games history lesson so I am going to cut right to the main points I will be talking about today: the cognitive benefits to video game use, how to recognize video game/internet abuse, and the negative cognition that can come with video game use.
Despite popular belief, video games have been proven to show lasting positive effects on attention, decision-making, and memory. Research has shown that video games also promote improvements in executive functioning skills like multi-tasking. Additionally, researchers have reported that more action-type video games were shown to improve one’s ability to simultaneously balance conflicting tasks while managing the stress of the demand. One correlational study, for example, demonstrated that video gamers were better than non-gamers in the ability to fly and land aerial drones and were essentially as good as trained pilots on this skill (McKinley et al., 2011). Not to mention, individuals can engage in social interactions and even make individuals who tend to be less social have more confidence in their ability to interact in-person.
However, despite the many positives, there are also several problematic circumstances that result from unhealthy video-game use. Essentially, understanding the difference between video game abuse and recreation is important before presuming the use is already a problem. Studies have shown that individuals with more maladaptive coping styles were proven to be more vulnerable to developing a video-game addiction which also manifest in depressed and anxious symptoms. On the other hand, individuals with a healthy balance of emotional regulation were found to have no correlation between video game use and poor mental health. Now, it’s important to recognize the signs of abuse.
Differentiating video games between addiction and healthy distraction is important to recognize in order to identify a problem. Research has shown that a problem can be indicated when participants engage in video game use longer than planned and with greater frequency, and more often played even though they did not want to and despite believing that they should not do it. Additionally, research has shown that problem video game users were more likely to play certain online role-playing games, took massive amounts of their day dedicated to video game use, and had fewer friends in real life.
Overall, recognizing the signs and finding a balance in recreational video game use can be a positive hobby for individuals to harness different cognitive skills. I hope this article was insightful and helpful for addressing video game use, especially in a generation where video games have become more lifelike, realistic, and violent. In further addressing this topic, it is important for parents to keep an eye on what their kids are exposed to and utilizing limits to video game use.
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Calogero Iacolino, Ester M.C. Lombardo, Brenda Cervellione, Giuseppe Mannino, Salvatore Micieli. (2019) Internet Addiction Disorder: Internet Gaming Disorder in a Nonclinical Sample Of Moba And Mmorpg Videoplayers. World Futures 75:7, pages 543-569.
Loton, D., Borkoles, E., Lubman, D. et al. Video Game Addiction, Engagement and Symptoms of Stress, Depression and Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Coping. Int J Ment Health Addiction 14, 565–578 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-015-9578-6
McKinley, R. Andy, Lindsey K. McIntire, and Margaret A. Funke. 2011. “Operator Selection for Unmanned Aerial Systems: Comparing Video Game Players and Pilots.” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 82:635–42.