Video gaming and Cognition

Many of us as children would have rushed home after school, kicked off our shoes and dropped our bags on the floor before settling in front of a video game with a controller. Most of the time this would be followed by a horde of yelling from our mothers about everything from our eyesight to our grades to our irresponsibility and how nothing good can come out of playing videogames. However, according to research, this is not entirely true. All those hours spent fiddling with the controller, whether to guide Super Mario through Mario World or to rise among the ranks of the criminal underworld in Grand Theft Auto, have actually been shown to have positive cognitive impacts. Action games act on three main levels. First they present multiple distractions requiring focus on the main object on the screen and shutting out all other extraneous activity. This helps improve concentration both with regards to the screen and to the surroundings of the player. Secondly, they require the ability to make quick and accurate decisions under a certain level of mental duress. This improves fast thinking and shortens learning curves. Lastly they help integrate sensorimotor function. In other words they fine tune the coordination between sensory input and motor response. However despite all the benefits of videogames, it stands that everything has to be done in moderation. The number of hours spent playing videogames in a day is a predictor of poor attention in the classroom and social interaction. Therefore it is preemptive that a healthy balance is maintained between gaming and other activities so as to reap maximum benefits.

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