Ever since their mainstream emergence in the 1970's, video games have widely been regarded by the public as a children's pastime that only serves as a way to distract and waste huge swaths of time without offering any significant benefit in return. Additionally, many people believe video games cause violence in the real world (even though studies show this is not true). With these views being so prevalent, it will undoubtedly come as a shock to many that video games are enriching the lives of people across the world, and even more surprising that most of them are unaware that they are reaping benefits at all from their favorite past-time.
Reduce Stress and Depression.
Multiple studies have shown the positive effects that games have on people who suffer from mental disorders, depression and high levels of stress. Researchers at University College in London conducted a study in 2014 that found a connection between the time subjects spent playing games and how much they recovered from daily work-related stress. Other studies have shown such a strong correlation between playing video games and reducing stress that some researchers are suggesting games as therapeutic treatment many mental disorders.
Drastically Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
Many games require players to quickly react to events on screen by pressing the right button(s) at precisely the right time. Studies have shown that people who play these games develop greater hand-eye coordination than their non-gamer counterparts. Dr. Sami Kilic from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston conducted a study that showed that high school and college students that played video games performed surgical tasks at an equal or greater degree of efficiency than actual resident surgeons!
Significantly Slow the Effects of Aging on the Brain
Senior-aged subjects who had their gameplay monitored by researchers showed marked improvements in their abstract reasoning abilities, memory skills, and attention spans; all of these are traits that tend to decline with age. These findings have led some nursing homes to employ the use of video games as a form of therapy for their elderly residents. While most of the excitement over these findings have been connected with older individuals, it is still important to note that people of all ages reap the same benefits from playing video games.
Enhance Decision-Making and Leadership Skills
Video games often call on the user to quickly respond to stimuli and make appropriate decisions based on them. Researchers have observed the effects that performing these tasks tend to have on the players and have found that they condition players to make better and faster decisions in their actual lives. This tends to build leadership skills in the player since leaders are often decisive and fast-acting individuals. These effects are heightened even more by games that are multi-player and strategy based.
Alleviate Pain and Discomfort
Can playing video games actually have a measurable effect on the degree of physical pain a player feels? Many studies have concluded with a resounding "yes". One study showed that children who played video games after undergoing chemotherapy required less pain-killing medicine than those who didn't play. A separate study done on soldiers recovering from wounds showed that the ones who regularly played video games needed less pain medications than the patients who didn't.
Modern science and medicine strongly suggests that video games have far more positive effects on children and people in general than negative ones. They also lend credence to the notion that video games will be utilized in the future to develop more effective, less expensive and less invasive treatments for many disorders and ailments. Parents everywhere should take comfort in the fact that their children's favorite activities are not actually rotting their brains or dulling their senses, but rather enhancing and sharpening them. Video games are perhaps, the most shining example of when pleasure meets practicality and should spur even the staunchest of critics to indulge.