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The issue of the influence of video games is of a great interest as different video games gain great popularity among young people, who are considered to be the future of humankind. At school, in the communities, and families, a discussion on whether there is more harm or benefit from video games arises. Countless video games have created a virtual world with a realistic picture, colorful images, dynamic scenarios, and unusual characters. The virtual reality is like a treacherous maze; it is easy to step in, but very difficult to find a way out. A growing number of children prefer living far away in the world of virtual images. However, despite mental and visual development via provoking stimuli and interest, video games are considered a problem due to the violence, addiction, mental illnesses, and aggression that they can cause.
Negative Influence of Video Games
Video games are extremely addictive; this peculiarity leads to spending more time on playing. Any addiction is not healthy and is detrimental to the welfare of the affected individual. A person has a tendency to lose interest in the things, in which he/she used to be interested before, because the interactive video game’s interface takes control over certain mental processes and affects the psyche of the player. In addition, there is much violence in most games, and this violence affects individuals as they spend more time on playing the games. Computer games are blocking the process of positive personal development and make a child immoral, cruel, and selfish. There is much blood on the screen, and people get used to the idea of solving their problems with aggression and violence. The children suffer from the nightmares as they live out the gameplay in their dreams. This phenomenon is a result of a high degree of the concentration on any object of the inside or outside world. In video games, the attention is concentrated on the repetitive, stereotyped activities (running, shooting) that occur on the screen. A sense of real time is lost, and a child enters a kind of trance. Communication in the virtual world is conducted through images, symbols, and chats, which influence the development of the communication skills in the youth. As a result, children may have difficulty with interpersonal relationships, as well as with expression of thoughts and emotions. Therefore, video games negatively affect such cognitive functions as attention, speech, purposeful motor activity and holistic perception.
Thus, Gentile (2009) provided the research on addiction of young people to video games. He gathered data on gaming habits and parents’ involvement in children’s gaming in order to determine the number of young people who met criteria for pathological video gaming. The author states that there are many reasons why people play games. They want to relax, to run away from routine concerns, to experience new feelings, etc. At first, the activity cannot be considered pathological. However, it gains features of pathology when gaming starts producing negative consequences. The study assessed video games for pathological predisposition.
Harris Poll has examined randomly selected samples of 1,178 young people from 8 to 18 years old. About 8% of players demonstrated pathological patterns of gambling. Pathological gamers received worse grades in school and spent twice as much time playing video games as non-pathological gamers. Therefore, pathological status greatly predicts poorer school performance. These findings prove that pathological gaming could be reliably measured and that the structure displays validity. Nevertheless, the study raised many questions. It is unknown who is at the highest risk of developing addiction, how long the problem persists, how many players need professional help, and what assessment will have the greatest effect. The study completed its primary goal: to demonstrate that pathological gambling is an issue that deserves further attention.
Positive Influence of Video Games
However, video games are also associated with the improvement in mental agility, reaction, special skills, and eye-hand coordination. They teach players to think quickly and creatively, and improve their ability to deal with the challenges. The players also learn how to manage time, plan, and improve their logistical skills while playing these games. Video games are a perfect workout for the brain. In many video games, one needs a good abstract thinking to win. Particular mental skills, which can be acquired in the game, include problem solving and logic, as well as coordination of the visual and motor system. Visual attention improves while playing video games. The modern computer strategy games, simulators, towns, railroads, and worlds are the ideal tools for training such skills as resource management and logistics, tactics and strategy. Video games develop mathematical and reading skills. Young gamers need to read the instructions, follow the history and purposes, and obtain information from the texts during the game.
Thus, Anguera, et al. (2013) emphasize that video games enhance cognitive control functions. Critically, playing games results in performance advantages, which include enhanced attention and memory. The authors estimated multitasking performance of the individuals across the lifespan. 174 individuals from 20 to 79 years old participated in the experiment. The results showed that multitasking performance declined linearly in age beyond twenties. Second experiment was aimed at exploring whether older participants would demonstrate improvements in the multitasking performance. The authors also performed an experiment to assess whether training video games lead to improvement of cognitive control abilities, which could be impaired in the process of ageing. These abilities include attention (sustained and divided) and working memory. The researchers hypothesized that immersing in challenging environment would increase cognitive performance.
All participants had no neurological history, vascular or psychiatric diseases. They had normal vision and did not take hypertension or psychotropic medications. Moreover, they were non-gamers since they spent less than 2 hours per month on playing video games. Participants were found through advertisements in newspaper or online. In the experiments, they played the game, which was called NeuroRacer. They had to drive a car on a winding road while tracking road signs. The players were supposed to click on particular signs while ignoring others.
The study showed that younger participants were better at switching their attention. However, older adults got better with a practice. This improvement can be transferred to other cognitive activities. Memory and attention of the players improved. Thus, it was concluded that the brain was able to change even in the late lifespan, and the rightly designed video games could direct these changes.
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This study is important due to the fact that it highlights the plasticity of the cognitive control system in the brain. Moreover, it provides evidence of how video games can contribute to assessing cognitive abilities of an individual across his lifespan, evaluating neural mechanisms, and serving as a method for cognitive enhancement. Thus, the researchers found that video games could improve attention and memory among older adults. These findings lend new scientific significance to the field of the therapeutic software.
Video games have become a part of the modern humans’ lives, and no one imagines modern life without games. In addition, today, video games have become a special kind of art. Moreover, they are of particular importance in society and have an impact on the minds of people. With the right approach, video games are able to develop a substandard, strategic, and creative thinking. The multiplayer projects teach the youth engagement and reciprocity. Besides, it is a great team play and practice. Therefore, it develops not only the intellectual abilities, but also social skills. The study of Anguera, et al. (2013) demonstrated the advantages and positive influence of video games on memory and attention even among older adults. Unfortunately, many individuals incorrectly perceive the game and are addicted to them. Gentile (2009) showed the negative consequences of playing, which dealt with pathological gaming. Moreover, video games stimulate only a certain part of the human brain. They have negative impact on many cognitive functions, such as attention, memory, communication, and perception.