How Some Video Games Can Improve Mental Health

Kid holding a video gaming console
There are some benefits from playing certain video games.

Video games are played by millions of children each day. We have all heard of the negative effects such as addiction, increased aggression, and various health consequences but there can be some mental health benefits to playing the right games.

Improved Attention

Studies show that playing video games can change how our brains perform and even their structure. For example, playing video games affects our attention, and gamers show improvements in several types of attention. The brain regions involved in attention are more efficient in gamers and require less activation to sustain attention on demanding tasks.

Increase in Spacial and Visual Skills

Evidence also demonstrates that playing video games increases the size and competence of parts of the brain responsible for visuospatial skills.  This affects a person’s ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects. In long-term gamers and individuals who had volunteered to follow a video game training plan, the right hippocampus was actually enlarged.

Repress Improperly Preserved Memories

Researchers report that Tetris—a classic game that takes hold of spatial and visual systems in the brain—seems to jumble the mind’s ability to process and store fresh traumatic memories. Those improperly preserved memories are subsequently less likely to resurface as intrusive, distressing flashbacks, which can contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, complicated grief, and other mental health issues.

Enhances Memory

Playing certain video games may improve both visual and audial memory. The player is required to read or listen to the instructions which might only be provided at the beginning of the game, thus the need to remember them throughout the entire game. Mastery of the keys on your keyboard helps you easily move your characters in the game. This helps improve your memory, whether short- term or long-term.

Though some computer games are beneficial, there is need to play them in moderation. It is also important to pick the right game as not all of them provide the same cognitive benefits. Age should also be a factor. It also goes without saying, children should not be exposed to violent games. Be aware of what games your kids are playing and for how long each week.