Do Video Games Increase Intelligence?
Has it ever occurred to you that even though there are countless negative opinions about gaming, there might be some benefits of playing video games? Is there a possibility that video games can increase a person’s intelligence or help them improve their ability to concentrate? In this post, I will be discussing with you some very interesting facts about playing video games that might be new to you.
In no way I am advocating video game addiction nor am I giving you a reason to continue with your bad habit if you are already addicted to it, and most importantly, I am not at all giving a good point to kids to argue with their parents using this article because as we all already know (and still ignore) spending a lot of time in front of the screen in any way (whether PlayStation or Netflix) is not good for our mental and physical health.
However (yeah, there’s a however), as long as we are not spending most of our time in front of the screen, we are good, in fact, a limited amount of daily screen time might actually be good for us. Here, I am not going to enlist some good reasons to watch television (sorry to all the binge-watchers) but yes, we will be looking into some very good reasons that make video gaming healthy for us to some extent.
Yes, Video Games Can Increase Intelligence!
Says Karolinska Institutet researchers that video games can help children boost their IQ level, their study was participated by around 9000 kids who performed various psychological tests prepared by the researchers to measure the children’s intelligence level and after following up with around 5k of those kids these researchers found out that the kids who spent about 1-hour playing video games showed an increase in IQ to up to 2.5 points. They say that several other experiments do imply that video game playing can have a positive effect on the brains of children.
Another study performed at the University of Arkansas says that our brain’s ability to focus can be enhanced by playing video games for an hour. In this study, they examined around 29 male students from China by presenting them with a visual test on computer screens while monitoring their brain activity using electroencephalography. The researchers found with the help of this study that the students who had a good experience in gaming showed an increased level of brain activity related to attention than those with less experience of gaming, also they were able to conclude that after one hour of playing video games, all the students showed similar brain activity (they are not certain about how long the effects lasts though).
What About Older Adults?
The love for video games is not only limited to kids and young people. A large section of the world’s population that loves playing video game involves older people too, so one may ask how gaming affect their brain. Well, there’s good news for them too.
According to an article published in the Nature Journal, researchers have found action video games facilitate attentional and sensorimotor functions, they examined the behaviors of expert-level action game players and amateurs based on which they concluded that those who were good at playing action video games showed far better attentional and sensorimotor functions than others which means that the players who are experienced in action games tend to show better hand-eye motor coordination, visual selective attention, visuospatial attention, multisensory temporal processing abilities, etc.
But the most interesting study is something that has provided amazing results in the cases of older adults, researchers from the Université de Montréal are saying found that older adults who played a particular game i.e. super Mario 64 showed a significant improvement in cognitive functions.
The study was conducted on people from age 55 to 75, they divided them into three groups. The first group played Super Mario 64 for about half an hour daily, the second group began to learn piano (also 30 minutes daily) whereas the third one did neither of these activities.
After around six months various tests on the study participants were performed to determine their cognitive functions and their MRI scans were taken before and after 6 months for any type of changes. Astonishingly, the Super Mario players showed an increase in the gray matter in the hippocampus and the cerebellum(those who learned piano also showed gray matter growth in different regions). The individuals who played the video game also showed significant improvement in their short-term memory.
The research work however favors only some specific types of 3D games, the games that make people form cognitive maps of the virtual gaming world. This happens because 3D games like super mario 64 make people use their spatial memory that depends on their hippocampus whereas the cerebellum changes are caused by the motor coordination that comes with the practice of such video games.
Researchers from the University of California designed a game named Nuero Racer and conducted their studies on people from the age group 60 to 85 and found that playing that particular game showed improvement in their cognitive functions(This particular game was approved by FDA for therapeutic treatment of kids with ADHD). Here’s a video on the Nuero Racer that you may like to watch:-
Just Don’t Be An Addict.
Apart from these studies, it is also believed that the problem-solving skills of a person can increase if they play a certain genre of games i.e strategic video games but don’t believe those advertisements of mobile games that claim to increase one’s IQ because apart from the first study that I mentioned here there has not been any concrete evidence to support that video games can improve one’s intelligence beyond a certain level. But yes, a controlled playing of video games can definitely be actually healthy for our brain, an hour a day is enough.
The most important benefit that I find about playing video games is not related to the physical effects, I think it can be used by anyone as a good distraction when things are not going well in their lives. In my post named “De-energize agony” where I show a step-by-step strategy to bring yourself out of a bad state of mind, I have explained how video games, in particular, can be used as an effective tool to break a person’s pattern of negative thinking. I have found that video games can be extremely helpful to break the momentum of destructive thoughts and emotions initially during a bad phase of life which is essential before jumping into any activity that is meant for improving one’s emotional state because when the negative thoughts are dominating, first it is more important to escape from that state of mind rather than trying to do something uplifting and video games can just help you with that.
Okay, so the bottom line is that video game can be healthy only when it is played for a limited amount of time daily otherwise it is an addiction that can highly affect your personality, social life, health, and psychology negatively. Play video games and have fun just don’t be an addict. One good way apart from timekeeping to keep yourself in check on whether you are becoming an addict or not is to see for yourself if you can stop playing at any point in time and move on to do something else, but if any kind of interruption while playing video game makes you annoyed then that is a clear signal that you are becoming an addict.
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