Written By SF
Parents often worry that video games have negative effects on their children’s behaviour and that playing them is damaging their development. They are concerned that playing video games may lead to aggression, result in laziness, addiction and are just a waste of time, with no real benefits. However, research is showing that there are many positive benefits from children playing video games. In other words, parents are in part, wrong. While it can be argued that video games are a beneficial source of stress relief and entertainment, they also improve certain skills. In particular playing certain video games can improve children’s critical thinking, problem solving abilities and hand-eye coordination.
Research has found that playing video games can improve a person’s critical thinking. Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. A critical thinker is able to reach a conclusion from what they know and they know how to make use of information to solve problems. A critical thinker has the ability to be reflective and think independently. This skill is very important in the real world because a person that has critical thinking skills can:
- Understand the links between ideas.
- Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.
- Recognise, build and appraise arguments.
- Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.
- Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.
- Reflect on the justification of their assumptions, beliefs and values.
Research has found that people who frequently play video games, also known as gamers, can make decisions quickly and with little information. They are able to make inferences quickly and with the same level of accuracy as someone who waits for more information to make their choices. Researchers believe that action video games might create stronger connections between the part of the brain that collects information and the side of the brain that synthesizes and evaluates that information to make a decision. These improved connections make gamers more efficient decision makers. An example of a game that improves critical thinking is “World of Warcraft”. In “World of Warcraft”, the game is set in a fantasy world where the player must level up his character’s state by hunting, gathering, battling, questing, and crafting (making his own tools). As players become better at the game, they develop a higher sense of critical thinking that allows them to make the move of what they should do next.
Video games, due to their interactive decision making nature, are a good way of improving a person’s problem solving skills. Most video games involve a series of puzzles and decisions. They often create situations where players not only must make decisions, they must make them quickly and frequently to adapt to changing circumstances. Simulation games like “Grand Theft Auto” help improve making decisions under pressure as well as process information faster. Some video games such as “Cut the Rope” train the brain to come up with creative ways to solve problems. In “Cut the Rope” players must cut a piece of rope in such a way that it will allow an object to fall from the top of the screen to a specific point at the bottom of the screen with each level becoming more difficult.
People who regularly play action video games, like “Call of Duty” or “Assassin’s Creed“, are better able to learn new sensorimotor skills, like hand-eye coordination. Sensorimotor skills rely on using what you see with your eyes and coordinating with your muscles so that they move as the player wants them to. Research found that hand-eye coordination improved with increased practice. In time, the hand-eye coordination, becomes second nature while playing these video games. As well as hand-eye coordination, when gamers play shooter games, they have a lot to keep track of. The characters are often running and shooting at the same time. This means the player has to track of their positions, speed, direction and movement. Playing such games improves reaction time and spatial abilities. In the real world, good sensorimotor skills are important for surgeons who require extremely accurate control. Perhaps doctors should spend more of their free time playing “Call of Duty” to enhance their surgical skills.
Just like exercise builds muscles, playing video games can affect your brain structure in positive ways. Playing video games increase the brain’s gray matter and those parts of the brain involved in problem solving, critical thinking and hand eye coordination. Video game players are constantly presented with various problems, many of which they must solve in a split second. This improves critical-thinking skills and can teach gamers the value of trying several different solutions to a problem and thereby using their problem solving skills while improving hand-eye coordination. Parents may want to rethink their position about their children playing video games. There are some clear benefits. Playing video games just may result in their children becoming critical-thinking-problem-solving surgeons.