Science Finds Video Games Actually Improve Mental Health – Here are the Benefits

Video games often get a bad rap, especially since they are quite popular with the younger generation (a group that is notorious for gaining less-than-ideal reputations, regardless of what point of history we’re talking about).

While no one is disputing that for too long can cause adverse effects on your health such as problems with eyesight and triggering migraines, the same can be said about pretty much anything else. Overeating is a serious issue that can lead to a number of physical and mental health problems, but you don’t see anyone telling you to avoid it entirely, do you?

The key is, of course, everything in moderation. Similarly, video games can also be beneficial to your health when they are played occasionally. And that’s not just us saying that – scientists have come to that conclusion after conducting a study to monitor the effects of video games on mental health.

The Study

Researchers followed 33 people ages between 55 and 75 to determine the effects of playing video games on their mental health. This group was divided into three, with group 1 being tasked to place 30 minutes of Mario 64 a day. Group 2 was given piano lessons during the same time while group 3 was not assigned any task.

After 6 months of this, all participants were put through an MRI scan. As a result, researchers found that only the people in group 1 – those who played 30 minutes of video games daily – had experienced an increase in the gray matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum. The study concluded that playing video games can prove to be therapeutic to those with mental health issues and improve short-term memory as well.

Other studies conducted were also conducted by the same researchers. In 2014, the focus was on young adults who were asked to play 3d puzzles and logic games. They were also found to have an overall improvement in their brains as a result of the gaming.

The American Association of Psychology has also conducted a study that showed that video games regularly can cause a boost in a person’s mood and relieve anxiety. Given that the average gamer spends about 6 hours per week playing video games, that’s not too far off from 30 minutes of game time per day.

Benefits of Video Games

Here are some of the benefits linked to video game playing:

Brain Stimulation

Video games aren’t just a leisure activity, but also one that encourages you to utilize different areas of your brain. Depending on the complexity of the game, you will need to analyze, strategize, and implement different moves. As a result, your brain gets better at critical thinking.

Feeling of Accomplishment

Winning or achieving something brings with it a sense of satisfaction as well as motivation to work towards more. In scientific terms, your brain gets flooded with a healthy dose of dopamine, which boosts your mood, happiness, and overall wellbeing.

Video games have lots of goals and objectives that can provide a similar effect, which is why they are said to help enhance mental health. This is also the reason why video games can sometimes turn addictive. But when played in moderation, one is able to enjoy the positives alone.

Recovery from Mental Trauma

Video games have proven to be an effective tool for several types of mental trauma. Not only does gaming provide a welcome distraction from pain and psychological trauma, but it can also even be a tool used in helping people with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), recover.

Socializing & Teamwork

Multiplayer games can be a good way to meet up with friends and socialize. You can also meet like-minded people through online video games with whom you can interact with and form new relationships. When playing together, you quickly come to understand who you can trust. Such games also require teamwork and cooperation.

Emotional Resilience

Video games are a great place to learn that you should not give up if you fail the first time. Losing is frustrating to anyone, but video games can teach you how to cope with the loss and get up and fight once again. This is especially true for children who are just coming into their own.

A Final Word

Despite what you might have heard, video games can be a great way to unwind and socialize, with the happy side effect of gaining long-lasting health benefits. They can even help people who have been affected by psychological issues heal and recover from trauma.

As previously mentioned, spending too much time playing video games isn’t healthy, therefore make sure to limit your daily playing time to an hour or less. And make sure to eat healthy, exercise, and enjoy life!