Most kids love to play video games. There is a lot of controversy whether it is a good or a bad thing. We researched it for you and found that playing video games will affect your child's brain development.
A recent study by Marc Palaus and teams at the Cognitive NeuroLab, Massachusetts General Hospital, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, and Zhejiang University, Université de Genève, compiled multiple studies that used MRIs and other techniques to track and prove the effect video game playing had on people playing games vs non gamers. The results that included well over 3000 participants demonstrated without a doubt that video games have multiple and varying effects on the physiology of people who play video games.
Fortunately many of these games are positive, literally growing the brain in different areas and improving the brains abilities. It also shows that violent games makes players insentitive to violence, and in some predisposed type of people it may lead to addiction.
Here are the results compiled for you:
Kids who play action video games improve their selective, divided and sustained attention capacity. This is because playing the video game engages ACC (the anterior cingulate cortex that surrounds the frontal part of the corpus callosum) which is the main area that tells the brain what it should pay attention to, and what it doesn't need to pay attention to, in order to get a task done. It also is in charge of selecting whether it should use another part of the brain or stay focused. It literally grows the brain in some of the areas and definitely makes it more nimble and effective. It speeds up the ability to link movement based on visual impressions which improves reaction times. This is accomplished by growing new and better links between many different parts of the brain.
Video games that require great reaction times are better for this. Role Playing Games, Puzzle, and Strategic games tend to be slower and they improve the child's ability to think things through, hold their attention, and keep track of many different plots at the same time.
This is why video game players display improved and stronger goal-oriented behaviors.
- Improved Memory and Alertness
When kids play video games they often get into "The Zone." They improve their theta waves which normally occur mostly during meditation and REM sleep, during attentive explorations and relaxed focus, or movement, like running or yoga. It is a state of relaxed attention heightened awareness. When the child is repeatedly in "The Zone" the child improves memory, information retention, and the ability to keep track multiple stimuli at the same time, while staying relaxed.
- Improved Conscious Wakefulness
During tasks in the game that require problem solving and attention to many details or interaction with other players the video player's brain switches into Beta Waves. These kick in when the child is conscious and engages in evaluation, thinking and responding to people or situations. Video games literally establish and strengthen connections between different areas of the brain. The better wired the brain is with different sections interconnected, the better the cognitive the better the ability to deal with larger cognitive workloads and cognitive control. When these areas are inter-connected they can be used for school work, problem solving and solving puzzles. The blood flow in the brain increases cognitive functions related to attention, verbal and spatial working memory and decision making. It makes kids smarter.
Vigilints Heart - Video Games will grow your child's brain
- Ability to focus on the essentials and on acquiring understanding
Since video games are so demanding while playing, the child might be required to interrupt what they are doing and quickly switch to an alternate strategy. They sometimes need to manipulate a number of elements in specific ways to solve a puzzle or progress in their storyline. The research shows that the players literally grow bigger brains in terms of volume metrics, better coordination and problem solving.
- Overstimulation and Exhaustion
Prolonged video game playing may overstimulate the brain and ultimately exhaust it. The study explored the difference between moderate use - less than 5 hours a week and overdoing it - more than 5 hours a week. They found that parents might make sure their kids don't get overstimulated since this may be an indication that their bodies respond to the stimuli the way the brain reacts to addiction of every kind. It means the reward system doesn't know how to tamper the excitement down naturally. It is best for the child to learn discipline to deal with the unique brain chemistry it was born with. Regardless of whether stimulation is positive or negative it activates the dopamine in the body. This can lead feelings to pleasure, better learning, or it can make a child grumpy, depressed and mentally exhausted. Video Game playing that ends up to create an addiction can be related to other behavioral addictions by observing child's individual reward processing patterns. This doesn't happen with all kids, only those whose reward system who are very sensitive to stimuli.
It is best to monitor the child's individual reaction and if there are signs of overstimulation and mental exhaustion, addiction, find a physical activity for the child, or a calming and creative activity, and make sure the child gets enough sleep. It is a great opportunity to speak with the child about self care and respect for the brain and body. Overall, playing video games has a positive effect on brain growth, as long as it enjoyed in moderation on a weekly basis.
Vigilints Heart - Video Games will affect your child's brain development for good and bad
- The scrooge of violent video games
It has been established that repeated or prolonged exposure to violence - whether it is from the video games, TV, News, or the neighborhood has an adverse effect on children's brain growth.
The limbic brain - sometimes referred to the dinosaur part of our brain - deals with emotions and after repeated or prolonged exposure to violence the analytical part of our brain, in the front on the left side where we feel and try to make sense of our thoughts, get's overstimulated and just dials down the physiological responses. We don't think about the violence and we don't feel much. This is for our children's oand even adults' protection since an overstimulated limbic system reacts with aggression and troubled behavior patterns. So the amygdala, which regulates the hormones that regulate emotions, stops responding as it would for a child or adults in an emotionally healthy environment. When that happens the child becomes immune because the brain and the body doesn't want to shock it with violence over and over, as this feels bad and results in aggressive feelings, unless we just block the feelings out. As a result the reactions and inhibitions to violent video games seem insufficient to the horror of violence. When a child blocks out too many emotions in that way, they may feel disconnected from the world around them. This could lead to depression, lowered capacity to cope with emotions, outbursts and more. It is just not worth it.
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Your brain on video games | Daphne Bavelier