By Dara Kushnir
Ever since its creation, people have debated whether video games are a help, a hindrance, or useful in moderation. Below presents evidence from the most disputed aspects of this argument as well as additional factors to consider:
Content. Countless studies show that violence in video games diminishes empathy and exacerbates behavioral problems. After playing even 30 minutes, less activation was found in the prefrontal portion of the brain (involved in concentration, inhibition, and self-control) and more in the amygdala (emotional arousal)1. People who play violent video games may expect others to be hostile, influencing how aggressively they themselves react in the future2.
Conversely, prosocial, nonviolent video games can promote empathy and helpful behaviors, even teaching empathy3, asthma management, rehabilitating stroke patients, learning resiliency from failures4, and being a therapy tool in moderating certain phobias5. Preschool children have also shown improved motor development and cognitive behavior5. Children who play cooperative video games display fewer emotional problems and problems with peers whereas those who play solitary games do well academically6.
Time. Despite the noteworthy benefits, it is crucial to understand that these benefits apply to those who play for less than or equal to an hour. Excessive time is linked with behavioral problems, poorer social skills, and peer conflicts. A recent study revealed that playing for less than an hour reduces ADHD symptoms, has a calming effect, and is not associated with delinquency7 8. Less than one hour of gaming strengthens motor skills and leads to higher achievement scores. However, playing more than one hour increases ADHD symptoms and lowers grades, which means the difference between a “B” and an “A” grade9.
Motivation. One . One study argues that people play video games to meet their motivational needs rather than for the content itself10. Those who are more aggressive play violent video games rather than cause aggression. Violent video games were not associated with aggressive behavior. Those who play for enjoyment or catharsis (releasing anger) play violent video games, although it is unclear if playing actually helps. The researchers suggested that people seek out video games to meet their motivational needs rather than the violent content itself. More research is still needed.
Personality. People with certain personality traits can be predisposed to aggression after playing violent video games. One study states that the “perfect storm” of personality traits using the Five-Factor Model is high neuroticism (easily upset and angry), low agreeableness (little concern for others and their feelings), and low conscientiousness (act without thinking)11. These traits make individuals more susceptible to violent games and media.
Player abilities. Another study argues that regardless of video games’ content, frustration from failing sparks aggression12. When a person’s competency or ego is questioned, through a challenging game or failing to master the controls, they enjoy the game less and react with more aggression. This reaction is not limited to video games; people react with frustrated aggression playing sports and other activities, especially if they lose or play poorly.
All articles are sourced in text.
If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from a video game addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.