Computer Games: Not Just Harm
Not many of us bar our offspring, running to the computer and playing computer games in our spare time. According to many parents and educators, computer games damage children’s brains, promote violence, impatience, lack of attention, sociophobia. However, researchers are seeing increasing benefits from computer games. How’s she? Scientists and psychologists around the world are studying the effects of computer games on human behavior and health. Studies show that the list of benefits is not shortening, but lengthening.
Computer games for children and adults can not only be useful – they are just a must. Shawn Green, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, believes that computer games change the brain physiologically, like learning to read or play the piano. Much like physical training promotes muscle growth, tense attention and thinking leads to faster transmission of impulses to the brain, promoting increased production of the chemical compound dopamine, which, among other functions, is responsible for a state of human satisfaction.
Teaches problem solving
While playing, you have to take on various challenges. Many games, such as Angry Birds, improve problem-solving skills. Each player has to solve from one to a hundred problems in different situations in a very short time. When playing action games, you have to do several actions at the same time, such as running and shooting. As a result, coordination of hand movements, fine motor skills, and orientation in space is improved. Fast orientation, reaction, and body movements are all needed to achieve one goal at a time. Studies in adults have shown that computer games improve the ability to perform minor surgical procedures. It is known that by using special games, pilots become much more professional in practice.
Better planning skills
By playing developmental or strategic games like Civilization, SimCity, Age of Empires, Railroad Tycoon, you learn to manage limited resources and decide how best to use them. The game requires strategically planning a few steps forward, creating plans, and counting. Over time, the skill of strategic thinking only improves, it can already be applied in real life. Games that mimic stressors, researchers say, can be a good teaching tool for mastering real-world situations. It is believed that games can be useful in training pilots, soldiers, surgeons. Action games require you to make an accurate decision in a very short amount of time, which is important in certain life situations. Rapid thinking speeds up the analysis and decision-making. Sometimes players do this almost every minute of the game. An important discovery is that the accuracy of decisions when playing is the same as in reality.
Accurate, persistent and alert
Games can develop character traits such as accuracy, perseverance, and alertness. For example, action games develop accuracy because they require quick and accurate decisions to survive. This feature can also be useful in real life. Perseverance is a quality without which players cannot reach a higher level of play. By trying again and again, players learn not to give up, to reach the goal despite failed attempts. Action games also develop vigilance. Staying vigilant in certain professional activities, such as military training, is simply a necessary trait. Therefore, special games are created in which soldiers learn to make the right decisions in unexpected situations.
Imagination is developed
Some scientists believe the games are reminiscent of a scientist’s work in a lab. While playing, you need to hypothesize to win the game. In trying to do this, the player looks for solutions and checks different methods, versions, uses different tools. If the method does not work, the player changes the hypothesis itself. This experience is needed in the learning process. Games provide knowledge. Through learning, you learn to use various maps, find roads, recognize the countries of the world, get to know cultures and history.
Being able to create a knowledge storage system in memory, i. y. choose what is necessary to remember, what may be important, and what is not necessary. For some children with attention disorders, special games help to concentrate. Playing improves the ability to recognize visual information quickly and accurately. People who are constantly playing absorb visual information and learn faster. They are also more resistant to environmental disturbances that distract attention. Games stimulate the imagination – to discover new connections and create something we did not even imagine at first.
Computer games exhaustes brain resources
In an interview given by LRT, Professor Arūnas Germanavičius of the Institute of Public Health of Vilnius University has said that he sees both sides of games: “Of course, certain computer games are necessary for a person to learn new things. This can be applied, for example, in medicine, rehabilitation, after stroke, brain damage. This is one of the priority areas of science in the European Union. ” According to A.Germanavičius, the most important thing is how much time is spent at the computer. About 14 percent. people who work at a computer for 6-7 hours. daily, addiction can occur. Lack of movement and focus on certain tasks, which are usually very limit in games, make significant use of brain resources and can lead to side effects.
Up to 13 years – no tablets and phones
We talked about the benefits and harms of computer games with the head of the Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital “Lopšelis” of Kaunas Clinics of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Assoc. dr. Audrone Prasauskiene.
– How do you scientifically evaluate children’s computer games?
First of all, we need to find out what kind of children we are talking about, what kind and for what purpose we are playing. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Association state that children under the age of 2 should not play with electronic devices (telephones, tablets, or other computers) at all. Early brain development is directly related to environmental stimuli or their absence. For example, if a child does not see or hear for the first 2–2.5 years, neural networks responsible for perceiving auditory or visual stimuli do not form. Later, by removing the reasons why the child does not hear or see, he will no longer learn to speak, his vision will not be enough. Therefore, especially in the first year of life, the child needs all kinds of environmental stimuli.
In my practical work (I am a pediatric neurologist) I meet children whose mothers come to our development center because “the child does not speak”. When you start analyzing the situation, it turns out that the child speaks a little, but in English. Or know the numbers, but only in English. It turns out that those children live in a simple Lithuanian town (not in England or Ireland) and that their parents give them tablets. The purpose of such behavior is not to interfere! I am very happy that I and my daughter were raise by a grandmother who read fairy tales, went to museums, and so on.
While playing computer games, the child does not learn self-control, does not move, does not communicate with parents and peers. This is necessary for normal development. If children spend time at electronic means out of control, they do so at the time they should be asleep. Consequently, the duration and quality of sleep in children become insufficient. Science suffers as a result. Long-term use of electronic means in childhood is taught to be associate with mental disorders in children.
In some cases, can games be good for children’s development?
I do not think that the best racing games are very useful for a child’s development. However, it is possible to talk about how to use electronic means to achieve one or another goal, also in the rehabilitation of children. Most occupational therapists and speech therapists at our center have tablets, they use them to stimulate the child: the therapist agrees that after completing one or another task, the child will be able to play for 1–3 minutes. duration of the game (electronic means used as an incentive). We recently acquired RehaCom, a computer therapy program that consists of many short games used as exercises to develop cognitive functions. These programs are more appropriate for children with brain injuries, but can also be apply to brain injuries of other origins. Last year, we also acquired the Biometrics E-Link system for small and large motor skills training. The set also includes finger-to-hand games.
– What are the dangers of computer games when they are harmful?
– Occupational therapist Cris Rowan has made quite strict recommendations on when and for how long children can use electronic means. I think there is a lot of truth in them. According to C. Rowan, up to 13 years. no portable electronic devices (telephones, tablets, etc.) are recommended for children. Up to 13 m. children are prohibited from playing any games, including action, that promote violence. Only from 13 years. children can play computer games for up to 30 minutes. per day (various games, including action). Playing car racing games is not recommend for ages under 18. age. Watching TV: 3-5 years recommended for children up to 1 hour. per day without images of violence, 6–12 and 13–18 years. for children – up to 2 hours. per day without images of violence.