There’s a lot of benefits in mental health and training, but are you aware of them all? On our first volume of The Children’s Corner for 2019, we’re here to discuss the benefits of gaming, for children, but also your self.
We all know the gaming industry is a massive giant moving in on how we spend our precious time on this world. Through games, through movies, and through forms of entertainment, we find ourselves relaxed, spending time with family or friends from around the world.
It’s an easy thing to do, especially in this day and age. We’re used to having games, movies, music, books, and even video calling just at the press of our finger. It’s an amazing thing to experience and there’s no doubt that kids will want to eventually experience it too.
Kids love to see and to try brand new experiences that they might never have had and thanks to gaming, a lot of that is possible, but there’s always the question of “what are the benefits” that loom just in the back of our minds. It’s a great question to have and when it comes to gaming, it’s an even bigger question to ask, and there’s actually a lot of fantastic answers.
In a recent discussion with a parent at our local GameStop, I was asked a rather nifty question, and one I had to do some research on: What are the benefits of their grandkid and gaming? After all, he’s only nine, and his time, in their eyes, could be spent elsewhere preparing them for things later in life.
Well, Betty, as you called yourself, there are quite a few amazing benefits, and we’re going to break them down for you – if you’re reading this.
Hand-Eye Coordination – Games are all about this
When it comes to games, hand-eye coordination is an absolute must. Games are all about quick responses, your eyes, your hands, and even your reflexes being top-notch for some of today’s most competitive titles on the market. There’s no doubt that Little Timmy is actually benefiting from his time spent with games.
According to a study from the University of Toronto, they actually found that playing games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, or even story-driven games like Super Mario Odyssey, actually help with hand-eye coordination, and how responsive a person can be as they age.
In their study, then-2014 graduate student Davood Gozli, who led the study with supervisor Jay Pratt, stated that they “wanted to understand if chronic video game playing has an effect on sensorimotor control, that is, the coordinated function of vision and hand movement”
However, they didn’t find any evidence of games actually improving sensorimotor functions at the initial start of their study, but by the end of it? Everyone was actually performing better, stating the following: “This is likely due to the gamers’ superior ability in learning a novel sensorimotor pattern, that is, their gaming experience enabled them to learn better than the non-gamers.
So there are some actual benefits to hand-eye coordination and video games in peoples of all ages. Better start while they’re young and we highly suggest the Nintendo Switch as a great starting point if they haven’t already with PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
Video games can actually help with your memory, young or old, and you should take advantage of that
Now, you might be wondering, why did I mention young or old up above? Well, that’s because video games don’t just work with younger audiences, but because of the developing brain, younger audiences can benefit from this significantly more, but so can those of any age.
Games are all about repetition while adding in minor adjustments to gameplay experiences through newly unlocked abilities, adapting to changes in a track or level, and even an introduction to new mechanics as you progress. Games like Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate or Fortnite are all about repetition, learning new mechanics, and finding ways to overcome seemingly impossible challenges.
Through these mechanics, players will need to memorize patterns, think on their feet, and, again, have increased hand-eye coordination to outdo even some of the best players in the world. However, you might be wondering, what were the results of that study and what kind of game did they use for it? Well, the results were good in all actuality, as it was done by Scientists at UC San Francisco.
Their study group was actually those above the age of 60. They found those who actually play games at that age, specifically the racing game they designed, were outperforming younger gamers once their brains became attuned to the game that they were playing. Their response times were faster, their ability to think on their feet was even higher, and their overall performance was actually quite impressive. You can read more about the study here.
They can help improve social skills in kids
Now, you might be rolling your eyes at this one, but believe it or not – games have helped with social skills in kids well before the days of the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One. In all actuality, kids have been gaming for generations, and surprisingly enough, those kids are actually rather social.
Even today, video games are more social than ever, they are a special form of it, which requires teams, players, and even friends they may not have yet, to work together in order to overcome the challenges put before them. Games like Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! which are extremely social and their communities are even more social than ever before.
Through various apps such as Discord, PlayStation Network’s Party Chat, or even Xbox Live’s Party Chat features, gamers can work together, get in closed groups, and communicate for better coordination, just as my friends and I do on Final Fantasy XIV every weekend.
Games like Fortnite, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, and even Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are extremely social games. They require communication, coordination, and the ability to work together or play together nicely. They can enhance their social skills and even make them more sociable outside of games with those that share a common interest, not to mention, their problem-solving skills, which we’ll talk about next.
Believe it or not, games provide a lot of challenges, and being able to problem solve is a major part of the gaming experience
Now, you might be wondering, how can games help increase the problem-solving skills in a child I know and love? Well, there’s actually been a lot of discussion on this front, and according to Isabela Granic, PhD, of Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands and the American Psychological Association, there’s a lot of benefits to gaming versus negative effects that the media likes to tell you about.
Believe it or not, there’s also been a lot of studies done that have found that problem-solving skills are actually linked to games, and those who do play games, have increased problem-solving skills. This is mostly because games such as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Super Mario Odyssey, and even Sea of Thieves, are all about problem-solving while on the fly. They’re about memorization, the ability to think on your toes, and have quick responses to sometimes time-sensitive opportunities or missions.
Games like Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, and even Minecraft are all about remembering what goes where, and how to complete an objective. Whether it’s remembering raid patterns, boss attacks, or secret locations, problem-solving skills are a must, and some of this ties in with those hand-eye coordination skills we discussed just a bit ago.
Even Jane McGonigal, an advocate for gaming has stood up and has continually discussed how video games can influence our lives and improve our skills over on her site. You really should check her out and if you haven’t, give her TED panel. You can check it out over on YouTube today.
Games can also help with long term and short term memory for you and the children
One thing you may not think about when it comes to games is the very fact that they can help with their long-term and short-term memory. Surprisingly enough, studies have shown that games don’t just benefit toddlers through early lessons through educational games and or puzzles; they are also beneficial to all of those who give them a chance.
Various games require a hefty amount of memorization in order to complete the tasks put for you. Various tasks ranging from things such as mining for materials in Minecraft to create a minecart track or even the stuff needed in order to make a furnace in the game. Games such as Fortnite will require quick reflexes and a solid memory of building patterns along with button commands in order to outperform their opponents or even master that of what Fortnite and its creative mode have to offer.
Not sold on those games? Well, here’s another one, and this one is extremely memory oriented: Portal. While it sounds like Portal is just a cute and friendly game, it’s anything but that, and it does require a high amount of memorization in order to push through each of the levels it has to offer. The game is far from easy in that front and let alone does it require a good sense of memorization for each puzzle, it also requires a lot of attention to detail. Everything you do matters and some puzzles can be failed by not paying attention to the details.
For kids above the age of thirteen, there are games that they could benefit from with these kinds of mechanics such as Monster Hunter: World or even oddly enough – games such as Pokémon that require memorization of what abilities do what, what kind of weaknesses and types an opponents creature is and how your abilities will affect them.
Games like Monster Hunter: World takes that one step further. They require memorization of how a creature acts, what kind of elements it uses, but also what its strengths and weaknesses actually are. While this sounds like something to wriggle your nose at, trust me when I say this: It’s anything but that and it requires a solid memory to help keep things going.
There are even a few studies regarding the improvements in memory and cognitive functionality that have been done to back this very fact. You can find out more here.
When it comes to games, there’s a lot of benefits to them, but only if games are played in moderation and the children or adults learn self-control. If you’re having trouble with that, we actually have a few steps to help you out, and we’ll be sharing with you on guidelines on gaming for kids, but also how to activate parental controls later this week.
So now, it’s your turn. What benefits have you seen in kids and gaming? Have they done anything to help improve your kid’s mental functions in any way or do you just see them as a great outlet and source of entertainment for your child? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.