Video games are brain food


Merry Schlarman

What parents see when they see a child playing a violent video game.

Growing up I heard time and time again how video games were not good for you and that many parents limited their kid’s video game time. They did this because they wanted their kids to do something healthy like go outside and play or read a book. 

Most parents prohibit their children from playing violent video games because they are concerned about violent video games cause aggressive behaviors — but research shows video games improve your cognitive and motor skills. 

Video games can also help develop learning and social skills. Not only do video games teach kids problem-solving skills, but multiplayer games also teach kids how to work together. Strategic, puzzle-based video games improve a child’s memory and are said to help improve grades. This is why video games can be just as important a child’s development as reading. Both skills can help develop your brain in different ways and if used correctly can be important tools for your brain’s continual growth.

What’s shocking is that the violent action-based video games are the ones that improve the brain the most, not calm problem-solving games. These violent video games improve your cognitive and motor skills, help you learn better, and improve decision-making skills. In a study done by Science Direct called “Human Movement Science,” the subjects had to follow a moving target with their mouse in a complicated patterns, and in another test they had to do this same thing but with ever changing patterns. The researchers found that as time went on the gamers improved more than the non-gamers. One scientist explained that gamers are better learners because they tend to have more developed problem solving skills. It wasn’t that the gamer subjects had better hand-eye coordination than the others:  they learned the game faster. 

To do well in a live violent video game, you have to be able to think quickly, maximize your resources, and react to the situation quickly while being assaulted with a barrage of distractions. Violent action video games provide the ultimate setting to learn complicated decision-making skills. What is most interesting about this whole thing is that puzzle type games are the games more commonly branded with being healthy for your brain, while parents have demonized violent video games

The biggest concern for parents is that playing violent video games will teach their kids that being aggressive is okay, making them apathetic to brutality and producing violent behavior. In a study done by Frontiers in Psychology,  researchers showed gamers and non-gamers provoking images and both groups responded the same way,  showing that violent video games do not desensitize the players. Some studies, however, have found that there is a small correlation between aggressive behavior and violent video games, but the data for this showed that violent games only affected 1% of the aggression seen in teens and preteens. Many scientists argue that the number is so small it’s meaningless, while others think it’s a step towards proving the connection between aggressive behavior in teens and violent video games. The debate about violent video games is far from over, but as of now there is no real correlation between violence and violent video games.

 Violent video games help develop your brain so parents should ease up on violent video game restrictions. While I also struggle with pulling myself away from my phone, it’s still good for kids to try to get outside every now and then. So even though I believe parents should be a little more lenient on gaming rules, everything should be in moderation.