Top 3 Mental Health Benefits of Playing Video Games
(Photo : Top 3 Mental Health Benefits of Playing Video Games)

The heated debate as to whether video games are helpful or useless to both kids and adults has been going on since the advent of Pong and Space Invaders. Many people still believe these games can potentially cause mental-related issues. Are these beliefs true or some form of twisted myths?

Gaming is more than just a hobby. Accumulating scientific evidence shows that playing video games can enhance your cognitive abilities. In a recent study intended to determine the mental benefits of gaming, the researchers found that gamers outperformed their none-gamers counterparts in all tests used. 

Well, this may not be sufficient proof that gaming could increase your performance. After all, it's possible that the individuals who choose to play video games already have superior cognitive and perceptual abilities.

The most reliable proof that gaming enhances one's cognitive abilities come from different experiments in which all participants had no history of gaming. Researchers have come to the conclusion that video gaming could potentially improve your mental abilities. Some of these benefits include;

1. Improvement in job-related skills

Scientists have found that video games can improve your overall performance at work, mainly if your job requires attention, reliable eye-hand coordination, quick decision making, and excellent working memory. For example, a recent study revealed that video gamers could perform better than non-gamers in the ability to control drones.

Generally, setting up your gaming PC and playing video games is not just a hobby. It is an activity that could help you perform better at work.

2. Video games could improve your attention span and vigilance

Action video gaming can enhance your abilities to easily locate and quickly target stimulus even in a field of many distractors. Indeed, this is a test that has proved to be a reliable predictor of one's driving abilities.

In addition to improved spatial attention, video games can enhance your ability to track specific items in a field of many distractors. Just think about most action-oriented video games. You must track a set of moving objects that are almost visually identical to other moving items. It takes great skill and outstanding mental abilities to perform better in these games.

A study that was done in 2009 (Dye, Green, & Bavelier) showed that gaming could potentially reduce impulsiveness. When playing video games, you always try as much as you can to refrain from responding to non-target stimuli. These abilities are helpful even in none gaming situations. After all, you don't have to react impulsively in every situation.

3. Better executive functioning

Executive function is simply the ability to allow your mental resources, including attention, memory, and perception in ways that facilitate fast and reliable decision making or problem-solving. Think about playing first-person shooters. You must observe a situation, analyze it, make a decision, and execute it. Surprisingly, you have a fraction of a second to do that. These games can potentially make you better at making reliable decisions, even when working under pressure.

Other games require you to engage in several tasks simultaneously. According to a survey done in 2013, about 50 hours of experience in action video games can result in significant improvement in overall performance in Multi-Attribute Task Battery. This is a test intended to analyze one's piloting skills.

The test involves using a joystick to keep a specified target on the screen, responding to lights on the instrument panel, monitoring fuel levels, and handling radio communication. Excellent performance on this test indicates a better real-world piloting performance.

One's cognitive flexibility, working memory, attention, and abstract reasoning tend to decrease with age. Scientific evidence suggests that video games can keep elderly people mentally active and reduce mental decline associated with aging. Besides, these activities can improve the gamers' self-concepts and probably lead to a better life in older adults.

Needless to say, when you see someone playing a game like Solitaire, they aren't just wasting time. While having fun, they're also keeping themselves mentally engaged and active, reinforcing their memory and critical thinking skills.  

Wrap up

If you have been limiting yourself or your loved ones from playing video games, the chances are that you are missing a lot. The bulk of research reveals that most claims about the negative impact of video games are myths and that these activities have positive impacts on one's cognitive abilities. Indeed, the specific mental skills that these games help develop are increasingly essential in today's world. 

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