Kids who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s were the first to really have the chance to embrace video games. That love has never really gone away for them, but other generations have come to embrace video games too. With social and mobile gaming added to the mix, we can play video games today almost anywhere and play virtually anything.
Video games may provide several benefits, but only if they are enjoyed in moderation. Because many games require long periods of sitting, there is a real health danger that must be considered. Keith Diaz, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Department of Medicine, found a direct correlation between sedentary behaviors and early death. Diaz and his team’s research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in September 2017.
Here are some of the key pros and cons of video games to think about and discuss.
List of the Pros of Video Games
1. A person’s vision may improve.
With moderation, video games have been shown to improve a person’s vision. For the average person, just 10 weeks of playing video games in moderation offers the opportunity to be able to distinguish between multiple shades of the same color with greater regularity. For those with a “lazy” eye, using it without the aid of the “normal” eye while playing video games helped to normalize the affected eye.
2. It builds social networks.
Games like Destiny 2 from Bungie may not require social interaction to play, but those interactions are strongly encouraged. This encourages people to build online social networks to help them complete game goals. This is the same skill that is required for people to build career networks so that their careers can advance as well.
3. It sparks an interest in specific subjects.
Games create interest through their characters, plot lines, and general storytelling, much like books did for the generations before. By putting a player into a specific world, video games can spark an interest in players for the subject matter covered in the game. That might involve a specific historical era, such as World War II, or a vocational skill, such as computer coding.
4. Not every video game is sedentary.
Many video games require players to move so that goals can be accomplished within the game. Interactive video games can even encourage fitness. Wii Fit U, when it was introduced in 2014, may not have caused gamers to lose lots of weight. What it did do was introduce gamers to concepts like daily Yoga and embrace an online gym community. Those ideas could then translate into the real world.
5. It could slow the aging process for the brain.
Video games are so effective at retaining the sharpness and clarity of brain functionality that just 10 hours of playing can create a lifetime of difference. As people age, the importance of playing games increases. Playing can reduce the risks for depression, help with arthritis, and even be a therapeutic option for aphasia. It also helps people find social connections when traditionally, their age might limit those interactions.
6. It improves decision-making speed.
Making a decision is a skill. Video games require players to practice that skill over and over. That makes it possible for the decision-making speed of some individuals to be improved. Compared to non-players, gamers who spend time daily with fast-paced games can react to questions or situations up to 25% faster.
7. It can replace a vice.
Just about everyone has some sort of vice that bothers them. It could be smoking, drinking, eating too much, or plenty of other activities or decisions. Video games can even be a vice for some. Games can also replace unhealthy vices with an activity that promotes better health. People who play video games, especially puzzle-based games, can experience fewer cravings when they play on a regular basis.
List of the Cons of Video Games
1. It can create psychological stress.
Video games can become an addiction. If that occurs, other levels of psychological stress may also appear. Gamers may suffer from low self-esteem, have social anxieties, or even suffer from depression. Excessive gaming can also inspire feelings of guilt and shame. Uncontrolled gaming can also enhance the signs and symptoms of other mental disorders that may be present.
2. Long-term gaming can compromise personal health.
Gamers must be conscious about the amount of time they sit to play. Physical activities, exercise, and personal hygiene are all important components of good health. Gamers may also find their sleep habits become disrupted when they’re using screens on a regular basis. If long gaming sessions are being played, unhealthy foods may be chosen to enhance the concerns that are experienced here.
3. It isolates people from their families.
Parents who find themselves playing hours upon hours of video games may find themselves losing touch with the relationships they’ve built with their children. Kids and teens who play video games over long periods may find themselves at odds with their parents over their behavior. Although families can and do play video games together, it can also create arguments over who gets to use what console or system and for how long.
4. There are financial considerations to think about.
A 1 TB PS4 Pro console retails for $399.99. The Xbox One X costs another $100 on top of that. For a good gaming computer, the Alienware Aurora R6 with an Intel i7 core retails for over $1,200. Then there is the cost of each video game, with AAA games retailing for $60 and deluxe or platinum editions often retailing around $100. Subscription services, expansion packs, and micro-purchases all add to the final tally too.
5. It can limit academic process.
Video games can improve the decision-making process, but they can also deteriorate them. Kids and college/university students who use their free time to play video games can struggle to keep their grades up. Gamers might procrastinate on their studying, rush through their homework, or simply ignore a deadline in favor of playing their favorite game.
6. It may limit social connections.
Talking to a person while playing a game in the comforts of home is a very different skill than talking to a stranger face-to-face. Gamers often play by themselves and that can lead to feelings of social isolation. It can even lead to having a gamer disconnect from the real world so they can focus on the gaming world.
The pros and cons of video games show us that there can be great benefits and devastating consequences. As with everything we do, moderation with gaming is the key. If you know someone who is struggling with video game addiction, encourage them to join a group like Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous so they can begin to reclaim what they may have lost.