Video Games Make You Smarter

Vincent Vertullo, Reporter/Photographer

In society, video games are looked at in one of two ways. The most prominent way to view video games is “lazy fun” or something that you do in your free time to distract yourself. Although this may be true, it is also simultaneously true that video games have been shown to increase cognitive performance. 

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health “A study of nearly 2,000 children found that those who reported playing video games for three hours per day or more performed better on cognitive skills tests involving impulse control and working memory compared to children who had never played video games.”

Video games require the user to memorize patterns and have to use their brain to find solutions to problems in front of them. 

 The study also explains “the comparatively low activity in visual areas among children who reported playing video games may reflect that this area of the brain may become more efficient at visual processing as a result of repeated practice through video games.” Due to having to repeatedly focus on a small to medium sized screen, it allows for less distractions so that the brain builds upon this skill, strengthening it over time. 

On a more personal level I have been playing video games for nearly my whole life. Since I was a child I’ve been playing Lego puzzle games and have learned how to solve problems on my own. I have also experienced increased cognitive functions in some physical tasks when compared to my peers. When in a situation where there is pattern recognition, and having to focus on a task, I have been able to outperform some of my peers.

The article “Association of Video Gaming With Cognitive Performance Among Children” claims  “In a previous review investigating video gaming and cognitive tasks, gaming was found to be associated with attentional benefits including improvements in bottom-up and top-down attention” If you are a student in a psychology class (AP or regular) you have likely seen some of these terms before such as: top-down and bottom-up processing. Top-down processing is when the researcher starts processing the individual elements of a visual stimulus and gradually building up a final representation and interpretation. Bottom-up processing is when the researcher uses psychological factors to interpret and assign meaning to a visual stimulus. This shows that there is clear scientific proof that video gaming has biological benefits. 

At the same time, your mother was right about certain aspects of your excessive gaming. The article “Do Video Games Hurt Your Eyes?” explains that  “In addition to increasing the risk of computer eye syndrome, excessive video game use can cause eye discomfort, focusing problems, blurry vision and headaches. It’s so easy to get completely immersed in a game to forget to take breaks, and many games require complete focus”. This is the sad part of video gaming. Since video games are on a screen and the player is more often than not far too close to the screen, your eyes will suffer. They don’t have to adjust to lighting or distance. Every screen gives off a certain light, “blue light”, which is damaging to eyes. This blue light is what causes headaches and discomfort after looking at a screen for an extended period of time. Luckily there are glasses that can deflect the blue light allowing the wearer to look at the screen without discomfort which I have personally used and can attest towards their effectiveness.

With all of this evidence, the benefits of playing video games greatly outnumber the negatives, as the flaws can be worked around. Back supports, eye protection, and time limits are ways to reduce the negatives that come from playing video games. Higher reaction time, better focus, and increased attention span are only some of the benefits from playing video games. 

In all, there is clear evidence that video games have great positives with negatives that can be worked around. This is a personal decision but with the advancements in the technology of video games and their easy availability, it is the most convenient way to remain mentally sharp.

Pictured below are poll results from West Boca High students: