We hear all the time about how video games are making our children ill. They’re unhealthy and things to be avoided. We need to limit our time playing them to a bare minimum.
While there are some negatives to playing video games—there’s no denying that they stop us from getting outside! —there are also some benefits. Surprisingly, playing video games can help our physical, mental, and emotional health. We improve in ways that we never expected, whether we’re playing World of Warcraft with our friends, playing Call of Duty alone, or even pulling out the Wii Fit.
Let’s look at all the surprising ways that playing videos games is helping our health. Just what type of benefits are we seeing? Here’s a look at 12 surprising health benefits of playing video games. We highly recommend games with sports activities that you can play with your family and have a lot of fun.
Just a Note of Caution
Before we do get into this list of surprising health benefits, this isn’t an excuse to spend all day, every day on the games. I still believe in moderation and limitation.
Similarly, to eating chocolate and junk food, it’s a case of doing everything in moderation. That means you still need to get outside and take part in other physical activity. Some of the social benefits do not beat the benefits of physically meeting up with friends.
In moderation, you will find that you can take advantage of the benefits. While we have an Xbox in the house, playing time is limited to weekends. This helps to keep the focus on family time during the week but still allow some fun and online gaming for a few hours a week to gain the benefits.
There Is the Ability to Overcome Dyslexia
If you suffer from dyslexia, there is some excellent news. Video gaming has shown some benefits in overcoming the mental disability. While researchers don’t fully understand dyslexia and why it only affects some people, there are some theories, and there’s no denying the results of the studies.
One of the theories is that attention problems lead to dyslexia. The benefit of computer games is that they force you to concentrate for long periods of time. Chances are you won’t even realize that you’re concentrating for these long periods of time.
The games are full of changing sceneries. You must read instructions that pop up, with often voices speaking the text that shows up. There are instructions that you need to follow and missions that you need to complete. This isn’t just in the military games like Call of Duty and Gears of War, either. Some of the more child-friendly games like Disney’s Infinity and Skylander involve missions to complete and ever changing and growing sceneries.
You must focus so intently that your brain changes the way that it is made up. There are still studies to understand this benefit further.
Your Vision May Improve
This seems to be completely opposite to the old belief that if you sat too close to the computer or TV, then your vision would be negatively affected. Well, you’re not actually going to sit that close to the TV with most computer games now, since the cords for the controllers are much longer. We’re able to sit on the opposite side of the room.
Other studies have shown that computer gaming can improve your vision. You’re forced to look for details on the screen and distinguish between different shades of the same color. This ability becomes useful in the real world, as you will find it easier to distinguish between colors when you’re walking. You’ll notice smaller details.
At the same time, people with lazy eyes have shown improvement. This was in studies where the good eye was covered, so the gamer was forced to view through the lazy eye. Remember that the eyes are surrounding by muscles. By strengthening the muscles, the lazy eye issue was corrected somewhat to the point where it was no longer a problem.
You Can Become More Physical
Computer games have come a long way since they were first invented. At one time, they involved children and adults sitting for hours at a time to complete missions and get to the end of the game. I remember when you had to sit for hours to complete levels because there was no save function—I’m still not past Level 8.2 of the original Mario!
Now, computer games involve a physical aspect. There is Just Dance, the Wii Fit, Guitar Hero and more. They involve you standing and dancing around the room. You can build your muscles, improve posture, and focus on weight loss.
And you can still become more physically active even if you don’t use these types of games. Children who play sports games are more likely to become interested in those sports outside of the home. They join teams or practice the skills they see in the game in real life. Some will play with their friends and others will develop the skills on their own.
Parents can help by encouraging their children to get out more. Find out what games they’re interested in and develop a way to help them take the game and play outside.
There Are Creativity Benefits
Creativity does lead to health benefits, and video games certainly develop creativity. This applies to all types of games.
Let’s start with the military and shooting games. You need to get through the missions, figure out where to go, and learn all about the different weapons. You sometimes need to figure out creative ways to beat the bad guys, especially on the harder levels.
With sports games, you sometimes need to get to a level a little differently to normal. Or you will come up with new tricks on the snowboard or skateboard.
And then there are the creation games like Minecraft and the Sims. You get to create families, build houses, and create worlds. You’ll soon develop universes and create characters that had never existed before. You get to tell a story through the games, which develops with each round that you play.
The creativity passes through to your abilities in life. You start to find a new way to handle situations in real life, and you will become far more valuable at work. There’s a better job satisfaction, which will help to boost your mental health. There is even the ability to escape the rat race and create your own business to support your family yourself with more financial freedom.
Improve the Memory and Other Cognitive Abilities
We hear all the time about how we need to keep our brains working to keep the function at the highest level. While many of us focus on crosswords and Sudoku puzzles, there’s no denying that computer games may be able to help. Just think about the amount that your brain must do while you’re playing the games.
Over time, you will start to recognize patterns in the games, and you need to remember missions, characters, what various items in the games do, and much more. While you’re looking for creative ways to get through the stages, you will keep the brain ticking.
There are also games created specifically to help train the brain. The Wii Fit has a game that makes you do math problems, hitting balls to answer the questions by moving your hips. You’re working physically and mentally at the same time. There are others where you will need to perform memory tasks, or you’ll be asked to answer other questions.
Your memory and other cognitive abilities are boosted. You’ll also feel good about yourself as your memory improves and you beat your high scores. So, while you get a boost of serotonin, you’ll also get a boost of cells. Your hippocampus grows, and you’re at a lower risk for developing the likes of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life.
Yes, you really can fight off the aging process through gaming. The next time someone tells you to get off the game, point out that you’re just protecting your mental aging process.
Take Your Attention Off the Pain You Feel
While sitting down for too long can cause some discomfort, and you may develop repetitive strain injuries in your wrists from the controllers, video gaming can help to reduce the amount of pain that you feel.
The benefit is while you’re playing the video games, you’re taking your mind off the pain that you feel. Your focus is on the game—something that you’re enjoying. You’ll forget the pain that was there.
I can guarantee that this works. I still remember as a child when I had a stomach ache on the way to a friend’s house. We only played a couple of video games, but I completely forgot about the stomach pain!
While playing the video games, you’re also releasing endorphins, the painkiller hormone. You’re boosting the body’s natural ability to get rid of the pain that you feel.
The next time you feel some pain, sit on the couch and play a level of your favorite game for 20 minutes or so. You’ll soon find that pain reduces because you’re not thinking about it.
Improve Your Social Skills and Build Connections
You’ll find your social skills improve while you’re playing games. Most units now can connect online and chat to other people who are playing the games. Some of the chats are live and through headsets, while others are through forums connected to the games.
You get to know other people and build connections in life. Everyone celebrates together, and there’s a feeling of belonging.
There’s also the ability to improve your social skills while under pressure. You may need to set out orders to your team members while playing a co-op shooting game while under fire from the enemy. There’s a stress aspect, and you need to make aclear and concise communication to let people know where you are and what you need them to do.
You’ll find that communication in the office will be much easier. Communication with your family will be improved, especially when you feel under pressure or stressed. You’ll feel more positive about your skills and will find networking much easier.
Forge Deeper Friendships with People
Humans needs interaction and socialization. We may say that we like to be on our own, but isolation leads to negative feelings. The more isolated we feel, the more we end up struggling with depression and anxiety.
Playing video games helps to forge deeper friendships. Remember there is that ability to develop connections and network with people. You connect with people who have similar interests. You may not be in the same town or even the same country, but you find people who are very much like you. While you may never meet up in person, there are individuals who you can turn to online when you have a problem.
This feeling of being accepted for who you are is important. You start to feel like you can open and you will find it easier to forge friendships elsewhere.
With video gaming comes conventions and meet and greets. You get to meet others interested in the same things in person. You can go to them with friends and find other things that you have in common.
Studies have shown that this can also help those with autism. There is the ability to forge some social interaction without the extra pressure. You all communicate through achievements, and everyone feels like they belong.
Make Faster Decisions to Improve Your Life
You must think fast with some of the video games. You need to decide the paths to take, the missions to do, and the actions to perform to get tasks done. All these require decision-making skills.
This isn’t necessarily about learning how to make the right decision. It’s about learning how to decide. Being indecisive can affect your mental and physical health. You take risks where you wouldn’t necessarily need to or find that you stall in your job and that affects your mental health. Your friends don’t include you in plans because of your lack of decision making, so you end up feeling left out.
Playing video games means that you must make decisions now and then. These don’t always have to be right, but it’s about standing behind those decisions and making them in a split second. You need to act calmly under pressure and get through to the next stage.
You’ll soon find that those new skills will benefit you in real life. Feel good about yourself and progress with friends and in work.
This will also help to improve your cognitive and memory abilities, connecting us to the health benefit above. Faster decisions mean you recall memories better and improve the rate of cell growth and repair.
Curb Your Food Cravings to Keep Your Weight Down
How often have you wanted to snack when you’re playing video games? We see all those movies and TV shows where there’s a gamer surrounding by chips and pop, but can you honestly say that that is you?
When you’re playing a game, your focus is on what’s on screen. Your hands are busy with the controller. You don’t have the time to pick up food and eat it. You’ll be lucky if you get a drink in now and then!
Plus, your mind is completely off the thought of snacks. It’s busy.
Most snacking and cravings are due to emotions. We’re bored or stressed, so we reach for something to keep us busy. Well, we’re already solving that issue with the computer games. To top it off, we feel good about playing because we’re having fun, so we don’t want to snack.
Curbing cravings will help you lose weight. You focus on healthy eating, and you can reduce the health problems associated with obesity. Missing sugar isn’t something that you experience anymore, so you don’t feel like you’re on a diet and feel great about yourself.
Keep Stress to a Minimum
We all have stress for some reason or another. Some of us have high-stress jobs, while finances or the home life is a problem for others. It’s how we handle the stress that affects our health. Video gaming can help to keep the stress levels to a minimum naturally in a variety of ways.
Let’s first consider the benefit of taking our mind off things. We become so engrossed in the games that we forget about the reasons for the stress. If you struggle on a night with stress and poor sleep, you could find that a bit of video gaming helps. It will help you unwind from a long day, and you focus purely on the missions in front of you.
While you’re not getting rid of the reason for the stress, you’re stopping it taking over your life. You still want to reduce the reasons, but you stand a better chance when you have an outlet.
At the same time, you’re improving your decision making, creative abilities, and overcoming some other mental health problems. You’ll find easier ways to overcome the reasons for the stress, helping you to battle the problems head on. There’s no need for you to manage the symptoms because the symptoms stop appearing.
When work throws a project at you at the last minute, it won’t send you into a panic. You’ll step into your video gaming mode and treat it as a mission. You’ll work out a plan of attack, delegate to others, and make those snap decisions that will see the mission complete. Your boss will appreciate you for this.
If you’re struggling with finances, you’ll look at the steps that you can take to improve your situation. You’ll sit down with a plan to tackle it, instead of letting the stress take over your life.
And then there’s the ability to release more happy hormones when you’re playing games. More happy hormones mean fewer stress hormones in your body. Your mental state will be improved, keeping the physical downsides of stress at bay.
Gamers Are Better Surgeons
The final surprising health benefit is for those who are training or have become surgeons. One of the biggest benefits is that you’ll be able to do more intricate surgeries without as many errors. This has been noted in studies!
When you play video games, your hands are always working. You must look at the details on the screen, make quick decisions, and keep the stress levels down. You must work within small spaces while controlling the accuracy on your targets.
Surgeons must work in small spaces, and there is no room for error at times. Wouldn’t you prefer a surgeon who is confident with their hands because of computer games?
It’s Time to Play More Video Games
You have all the reasons in the world to play more video games daily. Yes, they are surprisingly good for you but only in moderation. Spend 20-30 minutes a day at the end of the day playing the games. Think about the types of games you play and the things you do around the game playing to make sure you’re living the healthiest life possible.
Children are more likely to socialize, and they do still get outside. As a parent, you can encourage this. You’re not banning all computer games but encouraging other forms of activity and socializing. You’re helping to develop a full-rounded individual.
There’s no denying that there are some skills and cognitive benefits to gaming. You’ll improve your memory and decision-making skills, making it so much easier to tackle stress and problems in the home and workplace.
Include some gaming as part of your weekly routine. We stick to the weekend, but you could opt for a few minutes at the end of a hard work day. Think about the different types of games, including building and physical games to improve the whole health while playing.
There's also some evidence that games encourage creative thinking. In one study, 12-year-old gamers were asked to draw, tell stories, ask questions, and make predictions. All the kids showed high levels of creativity and curiosity.What are surprising benefits of playing video games? ›
There's also some evidence that games encourage creative thinking. In one study, 12-year-old gamers were asked to draw, tell stories, ask questions, and make predictions. All the kids showed high levels of creativity and curiosity.Are there positive effects of video games? ›
The most notable positive effects of gaming include:
Improved problem-solving skills and logic. Increased hand-to-eye coordination. Greater multi-tasking ability. Faster and more accurate decision-making.
- Healthy brain stimulation.
- Development of problem-solving skills.
- Stress relief.
But there have been studies that suggest that video games can be beneficial for improving cognitive functions, such as memory, problem-solving, and multitasking. Thus, video games can help you stay mentally sharp, increase your creativity, and even reduce stress.What type of video games are good for your brain? ›
Action video games, for instance, are highly associated with improving someone's ability to direct their attention and filter specific information. Traditional puzzle games, like Tetris, were associated with increased performance in navigation, perception and recognition.How does gaming affect the brain? ›
Just 10–20 minutes of violent gaming can increase activity in the brain regions associated with arousal, anxiety, and emotional reaction, while simultaneously reducing activity in the frontal lobes associated with emotion regulation and executive control.How do video games affect the brain positively? ›
Functional MRI brain imaging analyses found that children who played video games for three or more hours per day showed higher brain activity in regions of the brain associated with attention and memory than did those who never played.How many hours of video games is healthy for adults? ›
The screen time recommendation for adults is two hours for entertainment and leisure activities, such as watching videos, social media use, and other passive screen time activities. This recommendation excludes the time you spend on your screen for work or school.Do video games relieve stress? ›
Video games are engaging and enjoyable, which reduces stress. Gaming results in dopamine secretion, which makes you feel good. Video games present a challenge and reward you for overcoming it, which leads to feelings of competence. Gaming can create a flow state, which is similar to meditation.
Character, Controls, Camera: The 3Cs of Game Development.What are the pros and cons of video games? ›
Video games can be used to help improve test scores, teach life and job skills, improve brain function, and encourage physical exercise. Because video game addiction can negatively impact social and physical health, parents should be aware of the symptoms.How much gaming is healthy? ›
For kids over the age of 6, the American Academy of Pediatrics says no more than 60 minutes on school days and 2 hours on non-school days. Kids under 6 should spend closer to 30 minutes. It's also appropriate for parents to know and approve the games their kids are playing.How video games affect mental health? ›
Gaming Causes Poor Emotional Regulation
One of the biggest negative effects of video games can lead you to struggle with regulating your emotions properly. Studies show that people diagnosed with Internet gaming disorder are more likely to be aggressive, depressed, and anxious.
ENHANCED COGNITIVE ABILITY
Playing video games exercises a gamer's memory, especially short-term memory. Playing even occasionally can help seniors remember things like names, addresses, phone numbers, dates, and times better than they do without video game stimulation.
You may think playing video games is just a frivolous pastime, but it could strengthen your brain if it's a new activity for you. Both younger and older participants in a research study improved their scores on a memory test after they started playing a video game every day.Do video games prevent dementia? ›
Research suggests that brain stimulating games and other activities might improve cognitive functioning in older adults, as well as possibly reducing the risk of developing dementia.Do video games lower testosterone? ›
According to the study, “Salivary testosterone, cortisol, DHEA and androstenedione levels did not change overall or between play against people vs. the computer or with respect to winning or losing.How do video games affect your personality? ›
The effects that video games may have on players' personalities can be positive, such as improving social skills, mental skills and finding solutions. It can also be negative on the players' personalities, such as violence, aggression, anxiety and stress.How do video games rewire the brain? ›
The Learning Brain on Games
Those repetitive actions and thoughts stimulate connections between brain cells, creating neural pathways between different parts of your brain. The more you practice a certain activity, the stronger that neural pathway becomes. That's the structural basis of learning.
Dopamine exhaustion occurs when your body becomes chronically used to having a high level of dopamine from gaming. It causes problems for gamers because the activities that they would otherwise enjoy don't seem fun anymore.How to stop gaming addiction? ›
- Set a Strict Time Limit for Daily Play. ...
- Remove Gaming Devices from Bedroom. ...
- Ask Friends and Family for Help. ...
- Try Other Stress-Relieving Activities. ...
- Seek Gaming Addiction Treatment.
- Being preoccupied with playing video games.
- Having trouble cutting down on video game use.
- Using video games as a way of coping with unwanted emotions.
- Losing of interest in other activities due to gaming.
- Lying about how much time you spend gaming.
For video game play to be classified as addictive, one must engage in them for at least 15 to 20 hours each week or more. This amounts to an average of three hours each day. This sort of play can cause lasting damage to the health and well-being of people, including their relationships and productivity.How many hours a day is excessive gaming? ›
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours per day of screen-based entertainment.Can video games help with depression? ›
Top Benefits Of Playing Video Games
The researchers discovered that by playing with purpose, you can not only overcome depression but also boost your self-confidence and develop skills that will help you in real life.
Video games can act as distractions from pain and psychological trauma. Video games can also help people who are dealing with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Social interaction.Why video games help with anxiety? ›
Many find that video games help with anxiety by providing a different focus for thoughts thanks to a need for total concentration on a game. Video games distract from daily troubles by providing an engaging escape. Escape is a big part of the allure of gaming. Video games often relieve stress and anxiety.What are the 4 levels of gamers? ›
There are four player types according to Bartle: Socializers, Explorers, Achievers and Killers.What is the big three in gaming? ›
While Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo were never the only press conferences, they were definitely the most important and memorable ones. E3 won't draw much of an online audience without those big presentations. At that point, it will just be a local gaming convention like any other.
The term "AAA Games" is a classification used within the video gaming industry to signify high-budget, high-profile games that are typically produced and distributed by large, well-known publishers. These games often rank as “blockbusters” due to their extreme popularity.Do video games increase happiness? ›
From sadness to happiness. Or high stress to lower stress. In fact, research has found video games to be a particularly efficient vehicle for mood management. This is because good games (well-designed games) engage players in a way that meets basic psychological needs as humans.What is the most important thing in gaming? ›
Gameplay is arguably the most important aspect of a game.
According to some studies, playing action video games can improve your visual ability for essential tasks such as night driving. Research even suggests that playing video games may be as effective as contact lenses, glasses, and surgery to improve visual contrast sensitivity.Why are video games addictive? ›
The reward center in the brain releases dopamine in response to a pleasurable experience or hyperarousal. If a person experiences hyperarousal while playing video games, the brain associates the activity with dopamine. The person develops a strong drive to seek out that same pleasure again and again.Why do people play video games? ›
Novelty. Novelty or variety keeps life interesting, fun, and engaging. Video games give you the opportunity to do something new. With over 1 million games out there, there are endless amounts of new gaming experiences.What happens if you stay up all night playing video games? ›
Playing video games at night can stimulate the brain when it needs to calm down and relax. It can lead to the inability to fall asleep and, therefore, result in sleep deprivation. Additionally, staring at screens before sleep exposes our eyes to blue light.How much gaming a week is too much? ›
15-20 hours every week is starting to overplay, and more than 21 hours every week(3hrs every day) is the type of gameplay that will start to have a detrimental impact on wellbeing according to this Oxford study. However that in itself isn't a gaming disorder.Is 10 hours of gaming a day bad? ›
Gaming addiction is a compulsive mental health disorder that can cause severe damage to one's life. It's common for a video game addict to spend over 10 hours a day gaming, usually well into the night, and many suffer from sleep deprivation 2.Do video games drain your mental energy? ›
Mental or physical exhaustion
If you're affected by gaming fatigue or burnout, you will most likely experience symptoms of exhaustion which include feeling tired, lethargic, irritable, and emotionally drained. You may also experience physical ailments such as headache or feeling physically weak.
In addition, excessive gaming creates an environment where individuals are often isolated in the physical world, such as in their room a lot; they may have withdrawn from friends and family, and often, exercise is sparse. This environment and lifestyle can lead to feelings of depression.What is gaming disorder? ›
Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes ...Are video games good for you facts? ›
It's true that some studies have shown certain video games can improve hand–eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind's ability to process information. But too much video game playing may cause problems. It's hard to get enough active play and exercise if you're always inside playing video games.What are 3 facts about video games? ›
- 1) There are over 2,000 video game design schools worldwide. ...
- 2) The first ever video game was created in 1958. ...
- 3) The most popular video game genres are action, sports, adventure, and role-playing. ...
- 4) The average age of a video game designer is between 30-40.