What are the benefits and harms of computer games?
Did you know that we spend 3 billion hours a week in front of the screen for computer games, which have become the most popular entertainment tool today ?! Thanks to their widespread use for more than 30 years, scientists have studied many times how computer games affect our brains and behavior. So is this influence in a positive way? Is it in a negative way?
According to research, more than 150 million people regularly play computer games for 3 hours a week. The average American player is 35 years old, but 72% of the players are 18 years or older. However, we see that young children are also increasingly interested in video games; Considering that 24.5 billion games were sold in 2016, the impact of these games on children is undeniable.
Video games and their effects on the brain
116 scientific studies have been examined to investigate that video games change the brain structurally and functionally. While 22 of these studies focused on the structural changes made by games in the human brain, 100 studies examined brain functions and behaviors of the individual. As a result of the studies, it was revealed that games not only affect how the brain works, but also its structure.
Contrary to what is believed, a causal relationship between computer games and the tendency to violence has not been found as a result of decades of research on violence and computer games.
For example; Some types of attention have increased in players who play computer games that require attention. However, video games caused a new dependency to be defined (Internet Gaming Disorder = IGD).
Video games help improve memory
Two significant increases in cognitive abilities were observed, especially in the 12-hour study conducted among people aged 60-85. These are memory and constant attention. These skill levels achieved in memory and attention were able to preserve themselves until 6 months after the study was completed. According to the researchers, even the slightest brain development is positive in preventing age-related mental decline.
The differences between 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional games on the subject were also examined. It was observed that the hippocampus part of the brains of the participants in the group playing 3D games developed 12% more than the participants who played 2D games. So what makes 3D games different? First of all, since it contains more abstract spatial information, the brain prepares a simulation environment from this information in the hippocampus section. In this way, the actor is animating the scene in the game in his mind as if he were in real life. Strategic games can be effective in preventing diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's. In addition, computer games play an active role in combating mental disorders such as depression. However, many studies emphasize that physical activity is the first method of choice for the development of brain health, structure and cognitive skills.
Additionally, it was found that surgeons who showed better skill in computer games had better laparoscopic surgery skills. In addition, it is thought that video games that require serial dexterity can contribute to the motor skills of surgeons.
What are the harms of video games?
We are all aware that video games have some disadvantages, besides the many benefits we have listed above on brain health and cognitive skills. It is disturbing for our children to spend hours every day in these games and to stay away from family relationships, social life and friendship relations. In addition, it is known that increased time spent sitting at a desk increases the risk of many diseases such as cancer and obesity, including premature death. We prefer our children to do physical activity in the most active periods of their lives instead of being buried in the screens.
In this context, we should not forget that computer games can affect the brain both positively (attention, visual and motor skills, etc.) and negatively (risk of addiction). That's why we recommend controlling video games for brain health, cognitive and motor skills. Currently, there are not enough studies to make a definite comment on this subject. For this reason, it should be noted that the reviews that are currently available are advisory.