They will ruin your eyesight, make you fat, lazy, depressed and brainwash you into going on a real life killing spree! Well that's what the media is trying to portray these days. But is there any truth to these allegations? Or are there actually more positive aspects to being a "Gamer" than we've been led to believe?
Myth:Video Games Ruin Your Eyesight
Dr. Diana Bavelier, a neuroscientist at the University of Geneva, has conducted research on
the effects of video games on the brain. Dr. Baveliers research has also effectively busted some
video gaming myths. Fact: games do not have a detrimental effect on players vision; they actually seem to make a players vision better.Bavelier explained that the ability to discern slight differences in shades of grey, or contrast sensitivity, is the primary limiting factor in how well an individual sees. For instance, those that play video games often are particularly good at distinguishing between different levels of grey, like when driving in fog, says Dr. Bavelier. She hopes this finding will lead to games that help people with poor eyesight re-train their brains to improve their vision.An even more recent study by developmental psychologist Daphne Maurer made news with research suggesting that people born with cataracts could improve their eyesight by playing a first-person shooter. Earlier this year Maurer revealed a study that found with just 10 hours of gaming vision had dramatically improved for people who as babies were almost blind, and that after 40 hours they were able to read two extra lines on an eye chart!
Speaking with The New York Times last week, Maurer elaborated on why she thought first-person shooters proved so helpful.-
-Well, if you stepped back and asked what might be an effective therapy for visual defects, first-person shooter games have a lot of whats needed, she said. They require a person to monitor the whole field of vision, not just what is ahead of them. The player has to monitor everything, because the enemy could come from anywhere. The game is fast-paced. You cant sit back because you will get shot dead. We know that the game changes neurochemicals. It causes an adrenaline rush. It also causes dopamine levels to rise in the brain. That potentially may make the brain more responsive.
We've known for years that many professional athletes enjoy video games as a hobby but is there a link to this and their physical performance?In 2010, following the discovery that video games can help you see more shades of grey and improve vision, cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester also discovered that playing action games trains people to make important decisions faster.Researchers found that video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn't just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.
People make decisions based on probabilities that they are constantly calculating and recalculating in their heads. This process is called probabilistic inference; the brain stores small pieces of visual and auditory information until it has enough data to make what we perceive to be an accurate decision.Researchers found that action video game players' brains are actually more efficient collectors of visual and auditory information. Due to this they demonstrated an ability to build the details needed to arrive at a correct decision faster than non-gamers. This offers an explanation to why so many athletes are also gamers.
But wait it gets even better!
Another recent study published by Iowa State University psychologist Douglas Gentile and Dr. James Rosser, head of minimally invasive surgery at a prominent Boston Medical Center, compared laroscopic surgeons who play video games with those who do not. In these procedures, surgeons use small incisions to insert tiny video cameras and thin surgical tools. Even after taking into account differences in age, years of medical training and the total number of surgeries performed the study found that surgeons who played video games were 27% faster and made 37% fewer errors than those who didn't!
-The single best predictor of their skills is how much they had played video games in the past and how much they played now, said Gentile. Those were better predictors of surgical skills than years of training and number of surgeries performed.
So next time you are looking for a Laroscopic surgeon make sure to find one that is a gamer!
Game Are Educational
With all of the media on video games, and the so called harm they are doing, we sometimes forget that not all of them are about "killing" the enemy or even contain any violence at all. In fact one of the most profitable markets in the gaming industry is education.
In North Carolina and around the country, students are playing such games as Minecraft, World of Warcraft and Angry Birds and their teachers are encouraging it.
Video games are not the great evil that people make them out to be, says Trish Cloud, technology instructor at Huntersvilles Torrence Creek Elementary, where she created a popular Minecraft club.
Cloud is part of a community of educators who love gaming and want to share that passion to help students learn. Those educators say that good video games can help students develop an array of skills from writing and physics to teamwork and problem-solving.
Brigham Young Universitys School of Family Life found that girls who played video games with their parents (key part is with parents), were more connected to their families and had better mental health than those who played on their own or with friends. So if you have a troubled teen, you might want to pick up the controller and play games with them. It could actually improve your relationship with your children and you might even have a good time doing so!
Conclusion: As the saying goes "its all about moderation". Of course if you spend an unhealthy amount of your time playing video games there will be negative effects but that can be said about pretty much anything. From the studies shown and a little common sense I think its safe to say that with moderate responsible use video games do more good than bad.
So what do you think? Is gaming ruining Americas youth or is the media over reacting?