Is Gaming Really the Enemy?

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Is Gaming Really the Enemy?

Jack Ward, Guest Writer

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In today’s day and age, video games are a common pastime.  The late nights at a friend’s house, the excitement of awaiting a new game’s arrival, and the compassion for one another shown throughout the gaming community are attributes to the experience that gamers will always cherish. Yet, in a world transfixed on global health, the benefits of this enjoyable experience are taken into question. Therefore, as society elicits a negative association with the concept, it is imperative that we truly evaluate the health effects, the social benefits, and the pure fun drawn from playing a video game. In doing so, one may find that these virtues are far more substantial than the slight health defects of too much screen time, a tiresome lifestyle, and constant addiction that anti-video game supporters warrant.

For starters, video games actuallyhave been proven to have positive health effects. In a study done by Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus in Berlin, Germany,scientists found, “that playing video increases grey matter (basically, the size of your brain) and helps refine learned and hardwired skills.” (Idtech.com) The article implores readers to partake in this hobby, even claiming, “Those with mental disabilities… or others affected by brain disease like Alzheimer’s, could benefit from playing video games as well.” (Idtech.com). The article then goes on to explain how each individual portion of the brain is affected by the games, concluding that the engagement enhances one’s logical skills, coordination, an overall memory. For gamers, this information is a dream come true. Yet one more detail is even more shocking. A study done at the University of Iowa found that routine video gaming could lead to slower aging, keeping gamers younger than ever. “Researchers at the University of Iowa in Iowa City conducted a study of 681 healthy individuals, ages 50 and older. They found that people who played 10 hours of a specially designed video game that focused on improving the speed and quality of mental processing abilities were able to delay the natural decline of a range of cognitive skills— in some cases, by up to seven years.” (Huffington Post). Who knew that games like Fortnite could play such a crucial role in our lives? Although, stereotype may withhold the conception of an unhealthy image behind video games, research advocates for the implementation of these brainteasers in our daily lives.

Yet like anything in life, there are some negative aspects of the good. Although gaming can be good for some parts of the brain, it is not necessarily for the betterment of others. Interesting enough, the habitual, addict-like nature of the trade might just be what results in the negative connotation associated with video gaming. Apparently, it’s even being characterized as a mental disorder. “But as part of its International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization is addressing what it sees as a more serious problem: “gaming disorder.” Basically, it’s codifying the common sense idea that if video games are taking over your life, you may have a mental health issue.” (vice.com) Although this certainly makes for a very plausible issue, we have to take into account that this is not necessarily the norm, nor is it fault of a fun game, but that it is a disciplinary issue and the result of leading an uncommitted, unhealthy, lifestyle. These addictions present themselves as more of a phase in in contrast to far more severe situations like drug addiction. Another refutation to the pros of video games is their role in invoking violent behaviors. “Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping, according to a scientific study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).” (raisesmartkid.com). While this statement may hold a grain of truth, consider other mass media outlets and influences, and ask yourself whether these outbursts are potentially related to video games. If your kid falls under the World Health Organization’s addicted category, you may be logical to assume that it is. However, if your kid shares exposure to variety in life along with his or her provisional video gaming, perhaps it is the violence presented on the news, the expressions of hate and despair in music, or even a personal or social problem that this child faces that leads to these demonstrations. Furthermore, the age-old argument of ruining your eyes is most prevalent when discussing the topic of video games. Yet consider society’s behavior towards screens, and how often we, living in a technologically inclined world, practice screen time on a daily basis. From the classroom, to the office, and back to the living room television, we use our devices daily. So yes, video games might promote this issue, yet our tolerance as a culture abides by it, and therefore leisurely gaming does not deserve a second thought. While it may be easy to jump to conclusions, video games are not necessarily the leading causes to violent behaviors and vision defects, nor are they necessarily responsible for the lack of restraint withheld by the addicted user. In contrast to their reputation, they symbolize various positive aspects in our world, as devices that promote entertainment, ingenuity, and creativity.

In conclusion, video games encompass far more health benefits than health defects, and are far more lucrative than trivial when discussing their effect on the youth. Game on.

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