Playing video games has often been associated with a bad reputation, especially those shooter games that tend to have loads of violent content. Nonetheless, there are dozens of styles of video games accessible on the web that you can’t put on the list of things that waste your time. What is more, many video games have helped a lot of individuals boost the speed of processing and handle anxiety levels in times of COVID-19. The reality is that not only is playing games not inherently dangerous or harmful for your mental health but it is actually associated with many positive advantages. Let’s dive in!
Pros of Playing Video Games
There are various views on the effects of playing video games. However, in the sections below, we will concentrate on the mental health benefits of video games. There’s a fact that games can hone your mental health, allowing you to combat stress and engage your mind in a range of creative ways.
1. Stress Reduction & Relaxation
One of the most noticeable and immediate effects of playing video games is that they can help you battle stress and encourage relaxation. When you’re engaged in a cyber world activity, you have an opportunity to effectively escape the hardships of daily routine. Due to the immersive nature of most games, you have a chance to forget about reality for a while and have much-needed peace of mind. This kind of break from everyday pressures can foster a sense of tranquility and calm, helping you to reload your mind and recharge your soul.
2. Social Interaction
If you choose multiplayer games, you have to know that these video games help players engage with a wide community from all over the globe. You have a unique chance to communicate with like-minded people and, as a result, build solid relationships. At the same time, a simple video game enables one to rely on and support each other in any game setting. Besides, you learn what teamwork is and what it is like to cooperate with others who happen to be in the same conditions. In other words, you realize what it is like to be part of a team.
Over the last couple of decades, there have been multiple cognitive benefits of playing video games that, in turn, led to improved mental health of individuals. Even if you spend an hour after a long day in the office, you have a chance to hone your mood, cut off stress, as well as spend some precious time with pals in a virtual community.
3. Cognitive Stimulation and Problem-Solving Skills
Although a lot of people tend to think that video games are nothing but mindless clicking and pressing the buttons, the truth is that many games actually require you to apply some solid problem-solving skills. What is more, a lot of games have plots that make you deal with puzzles and challenges that demand critical and creative thinking, decision-making, and spatial awareness. Plus, video games encourage you to adapt and learn from the mistakes you make along the way. This, in turn, promotes a growth mindset that will help you in situations far beyond the screen.
4. Mental Stimulation
One of the key advantages of playing video games is the way they make players think. The process of playing video games puts players in charge of the action instead of simply watching TV movies or series where chunks of info are simply washed over you. In other words, nearly every part of your brain is engaged, which, in turn, guarantees higher-level thinking.
5. Better Concentration & Focus
In most video games, success hinges on sustained concentration and focus. Whether you have to juggle with loads of in-game elements or navigate the most intricate setting, you have to maintain a top level of attention. This is one of the benefits of video games that actually have the so-called spill-over effect into the other niches in life, inevitably boosting productivity and the ability to focus on tasks that have nothing to do with gaming.
6. Emotional Regulation & Expression
If you play on a regular basis, video games will help to deal with the aspects related to emotional expression and regulation. They become some sort of a safe space for people to explore all existing emotions, from joy and happiness to frustration and fear. When you deal with those emotions in a controlled cyber universe, you learn to process and manage your feelings in real life, too. What is more, a lot of existing narrative-driven games offer excellent storytelling experiences that you can’t have anywhere else. They tend to evoke deep emotional connections, providing a cathartic outlet for emotional expression.
7. Mindfulness & Flow States
There’s a special term known as “flow” that was coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Achieving the state of the so-called “flow” includes getting 100% absorbed in this or that activity to a particular point where you lose track of time and feel a sense of an ideal engagement. That’s the kind of state that video games can help you to reach, especially if you find a truly exciting game to play. The mix of challenging gameplay and immediate feedback can cause a heightened sense of mindfulness and presence. This, in turn, will give you a much-needed break from stress, worries, and rumination.
Cons of Playing Video Games
Now that you know the general benefits of playing video games, it is crucial to acknowledge that, just like any other existing form of entertainment, cyber games have a range of potential disadvantages. If you understand the cons of playing virtual games given below, you will be able to reach a healthy balance of this activity. Without much ado…
1. Sedentary Lifestyle
One of the key concerns surrounding the routine that includes playing video games is the fact that it promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Players have to sit for many hours, which can cause various health issues, such as cardiovascular problems, obesity, and musculoskeletal disorders. The lack of physical activity tends to become one of the factors that stand behind fitness level decline.
2. Isolation & Social Withdrawal
While many video games provide players with multiple chances to interact, especially when it comes to the multiplayer environment, a lot of individuals get quite isolated in the process. Excessive gaming can become one of the reasons why people stay away from social engagements. This, in turn, leads to a lack of meaningful connections and loneliness.
3. Financial Costs
The reality is that the niche of video games has a great assortment of options, starting from free games to premium ones with sky-high prices. For some players, especially the ones that tend to spend money impulsively, the game-related expenses can turn into a serious financial burden.
The truth is that video games can become a real addition. If that happens, all the other levels of physiological stress may pop up as well. In other words, addicted gamers can have social anxieties, low self-esteem, or even depression. Excessive gaming sessions can also become the foundation for such feelings as shame and guilt. What is more, uncontrolled playing can also add symptoms of various mental disorders that might need professional treatment eventually.
5. Eye Strain & Health Issues
Much time spent in front of the screen, especially when you fail to take regular breaks, can become the main cause of headaches, eye strain, as well as other issues related to health. For that reason, it is highly crucial for gamers to cultivate healthy gaming habits, like taking regular breaks and adjusting screen settings for the best eye comfort possible.
6. Academic Progress Failures
While playing video games helps boost your decision-making process, the process can actually deteriorate it. College and university students who tend to use their leisure time to play games can have some serious problems with classes and their progress as a result. They might procrastinate on their homework, coursework, tests, and exams or simply never care about the academic paper’s deadlines in favor of their favorite cyber entertainment.
7. Impact on Professional Responsibilities
When your gaming is not managed appropriately, this pastime can interfere with professional responsibilities. This can become the main reason for missed deadlines, reduced productivity, and lower job performance. As a result, you may find yourself suffering from anxiety and stress.
8. Exposure to Low-Quality Content
In the industry of video games, a wide range of inappropriate content exists. Unfortunately, a huge part of that content is not suitable for every age group of players. Both guardians and players have to be vigilant in checking every other game that their kids play in order to make sure that little ones do not deal with inappropriate content.
9. Exposure to Violence
A lot of genres of video games, especially the ones that have some graphic (and usually quite realistic!) violence, have already raised concerns about their potential to motivate players to get violent in the real world. While the research on this topic isn’t finished yet, it is crucial to approach this kind of content with caution. Before you play any game of this type, explore the plot and think twice if it’s actually worth your time.
Video Games: Improve Cognitive Skills But Don’t Get Addicted
With all the cognitive benefits of video games and their positive impact on hippocampal-associated memory, social interactions, and other advantages, cybergames have a range of drawbacks, too. The trick is to find the balance that would enable you to enjoy your favorite activity and save money while staying healthy.
Finding the perfect balance between enjoying the cognitive benefits of playing video games and staying away from the dangers that are hidden behind very popular entertainment is a must. If you make sure to include other healthy activities into your routine, do workouts on a regular basis, as well as set reasonable time limits for every other place, you will surely avoid the negative aspects of playing games and boost your overall well-being, as a result.