I was thinking about a topic raised earlier about gaming and kids, and I started thinking. Many people and website are very quick to blame all the social issues on gaming, But has any body actually looked at the benefits to gaming? In my life, I have had 2 instances where a doctor recommended gaming to help me. The first being to help keep me calm as a child, and the second was to help loosen up the muscles in my arm after a sever break. For those that do not know yet, I have A.D.D. As a kid I was a hyper wreak that could not sit still for longer than 5 seconds, and after a minor operation the doctor told my parents to keep me calm and limit my movements as much as possible. It was recommended that they get me a Nintendo to help out with this….and it worked…But why? Why did a NES calm me down and cause me to focus when so many other things failed?
Dr. Daphne Bavelier, a neuroscientist at the University of Geneva, has done research on the effects of gaming on the human brain. She has actually found that gaming helps the player focus, and learn to maintain focus on a single task. This research also found that players that mainly play action FP games gain some other benefits. Dr. Bavelier’s research also showed that players would have: enhanced low-level vision, the ability to track multiple objects at once, better multitasking and task switching abilities, and the ability to make quicker decisions. Now how can this be used in the real world? Well lets take her first example of enhanced low-level vision, this helps the brain distinguished different levels of greys, light, and dark. So how is that useful? well when was the last time you drove in the fog? Mind you, like all things, this is only true in moderation.
The University of Toronto released finding that people who player FPS and driving games have the ability to pic out single targets in a complex scenario quicker than those who do not game at all. THey took 60 individuals, who were not gamers, and asked them to complete 3 visual search tasks. They then split the group up into 3 groups and asked to play 10 hours of games in 1 to 2 hour stints. Group 1 played an FPS, group 2 played a racing game, and group 3 played a puzzle game as a control. After the 10 hours they were asked to do another set of visual searches. The groups that played the FPS or the racing both showed improved results, where the control group showed no improvement.
Now personally I have to agree with most of this. I don’t think that I would push for my 7 year old to play Call of Duty or GTA, but I will encourage the child to play other games that can offer the same effects. Aside from results that Dr. Bavelier and UoT found, gaming gives kids and adults a sense of accomplishment. Finally finishing a complex puzzle or using strategy to outwit your opponent will make any one feel good! Some games force the player to think out side the box to solve puzzles, they force the player to question their actions and problem solving skills. helping them in everyday situations. Again, this is all in moderation. There is nothing wrong with a child playing a few hours here an there, its when it turns into 5-6 hours a day, or when work and school become effected by play time. But that’s just my opinion!