Video gamers have always been stereotyped as socially inept and some also say video games can make you more violent. Having said that, video games are an inescapable reality of almost all children’s and adolescents’ lives, with almost 97% playing for at least an hour a day in the United States. As the nature of video games has dramatically changed in the past decade or so, let’s look into some health benefits that playing video games can reward you or your children with.
1. Pain Relief
No no, video games can’t take your pain away. Video games can provide the necessary means to channel one’s pain away. We all know the degree of attention it takes for one to a play a video game. This can distract one from the pain he or she feels. One case study reported that an 8 year old boy was cured from neurodermatitis and scarring as a result of continuously picking his face. The boy was given a hand held video game to play. After two weeks, one could see that the affected area was healed as his attention was put towards the video game instead of picking his face.
Furthermore, pain felt by patients with burn wounds have also reported a decrease in pain of about 50% while gaming. On top of that, sports games and fighting games are said to have helped the patients mostly.
2. Reduces Stress
Reduction of stress, thats right. In the world we live in today, stress and depression seeps into our everyday life. So how can you reduce stress? By playing video games is one way to go about this. Proof? A recent study conducted with 5043 gamer found that video games allowed these gamers to relax by lowering their stress levels.
Experienced gamers might be able to swear upon this too. Sometimes, all you need to reduce that bucket load of stress that you are carrying is to slay some dragons, shoot some tyrants and drive a car as fast as you can in the virtual world.
But don’t forget, games can induce stress too. Imagine seeing your character killed or losing a game hundreds of times. But this does not mean the opposite isn’t true, like we mentioned earlier, with the stress reduction study with 5043 gamers.
3. Losing Weight and Fitness
You didn’t see that one coming, did you? A study was recently conducted by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. They studied children from ages 10 to 13. Results indicated that exergaming and playing moderate sports or performing moderate exercise burned pretty much the same amount of calories. Interesting, right?
The International Sports Sciences Association has asked doctors about combining video games and exercise. Surprisingly, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Professor of Kinesiology at California State University Chico, Dr. Josh Trout, has stated that exergaming and exertainment are an excellent way of getting kids hooked on physical activity.
4. Improves Vision
Yes, you read that right, no need to recheck! Video games improve your eyesight, as reported by a new study. The study also suggests that a group of people who played action video games for 50 hours over the course 9 weeks, improved their ability to discern different shades of grey by nearly 43%, a trait previously believed couldn’t be improved. Furthermore, the study also found that individuals who play action video games for a couple of hours a day, for a month, improved their ability to pass a visual acuity test by 20%.
5. Increases Social Skills
Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, who has been studying the effects of video games on patients for 15 years, has stated that video games are an effective way to improve social skills in children and young people who suffer from learning disabilities.
In addition to that, social skills can be improved in a general sense too. How? Most of the games played today are multi player games and the gamers are found interacting with people online on a day to day basis depending on how often they play the game. This can result in increased social behavior which is quite contrary to popular belief that video gamers are socially isolated.
Games that are based purely on exercise can have various health benefits, especially for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. A study has reported to have said that people suffering from Parkinson’s had a 55% improvement in gait and balance after only playing games for a twelve week period. Video games have also had a positive impact on MS sufferers too, where reports have indicated improved movement.
7. Improves Decision Making Skills
A study has found that video games can make your mind ‘sharper’ and therefore can improve your decision making skills. In a series of simple decision making skills tests, researchers have found that 11 gamers were able to make accurate decisions much faster than 12 of their non gaming counterparts. Moreover, gamers also produced better test results for auditory decision making tests as well.
8. Faster Response Time
One of the most obvious benefits, you expected to see in this list, no doubt, is faster reaction times of gamers. Did you know that the reaction times of pro gamers are shown to be nearly close to the reaction times of fighter jet pilots? You didn’t expect that comparison, did you now?
A study in the Journal of Current Directions in Psychological Science has clearly indicated that gamers have high reaction times, not only when gaming but also in other situations not involving actual games.
9. Improves Dexterity
Another obvious benefit of playing video games is enhanced manual dexterity, basically, hand eye coordination. The American Psychological Association produced the results of surgeons who played video games back in 2008. The results suggested that surgeons who played video games had a significant increase in surgical skills and a reduction in errors when compared to non gaming counterparts.
The Federation of American Scientists has reported that children learn and remember better when simulations are used rather than general reading. The statistics have shown a drastic result too. Children remember 90% better when simulations are used and only 10% when they are asked to read.
Professor James Gee of the University of Wisconsin, has stated that video games promote a wide range of cognitive skills in both children and adults.
There are several other benefits to video games as well. These include :
Multitasking – Gamers are able to better concentrate on six things at once whereas non gamers only 4.
Relationships – It has been reported that 76% of couples who game together have said that it had a positive effect on their relationship.
Dyslexia – Playing video games can help overcome dyslexia. One study has proven that children had improved reading comprehension after playing action games.
May slow down aging – Another study has shown that just 10 hours of play in individuals who are 50 and over improved their cognitive skills. This lasted several years too.
Helps addiction – Gamers who are addicted to smoking, drinking or even overeating can curb their addiction by merely reaching for a controller. A university study has proven that there was a significant 24% reduction in desire for things that gamers are addicted to by just playing a puzzle game.
Asthma – Video games can help patients to learn habits that are necessary for their own self-care.