How do video games affect teens

By:Braden Lequieu

How they positively affect teens

"When your child plays video games, it gives his brain a real workout. In many video games, the skills required to win involve abstract and high level thinking. These skills are not even taught at school. Some of the mental skills enhanced by video games include:

o Following instructions

o Problem solving and logic - When a child plays a game such as The Incredible Machine, Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, he trains his brain to come up with creative ways to solve puzzles and other problems in short bursts

o Hand-eye coordination, fine motor and spatial skills. In shooting games, the character may be running and shooting at the same time. This requires the real-world player to keep track of the position of the character, where he/she is heading, his speed, where the gun is aiming, if the gunfire is hitting the enemy, and so on. All these factors need to be taken into account, and then the player must then coordinate the brain's interpretation and reaction with the movement in his hands and fingertips. This process requires a great deal of eye-hand coordination and visual-spatial ability to be successful. Research also suggests that people can learn iconic, spatial, and visual attention skills from video games. There have been even studies with adults showing that experience with video games is related to better surgical skills. Also, a reason given by experts as to why fighter pilots of today are more skillful is that this generation’s pilots are being weaned on video games.

o Planning, resource management and logistics. The player learns to manage resources that are limited, and decide the best use of resources, the same way as in real life. This skill is honed in strategy games such as SimCity, Age of Empires, and Railroad Tycoon. Notably, The American Planning Association, the trade association of urban planners and Maxis, the game creator, have claimed that SimCity has inspired a lot of its players to take a career in urban planning and architecture.

o Multitasking, simultaneous tracking of many shifting variables and managing multiple objectives. In strategy games, for instance, while developing a city, an unexpected surprise like an enemy might emerge. This forces the player to be flexible and quickly change tactics. Quick thinking, making fast analysis and decisions. Sometimes the player does this almost every second of the game giving the brain a real workout. According to researchers at the University of Rochester, led by Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist, games simulating stressful events such as those found in battle or action games could be a training tool for real-world situations. The study suggests that playing action video games primes the brain to make quick decisions. Video games can be used to train soldiers and surgeons, according to the study. Importantly, decisions made by action-packed video game players are no less accurate. According to Bavelier, "Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference."

o Accuracy - Action games, according to a study by the University of Rochester, train the player's brain to make faster decisions without losing accuracy. In today’s world, it is important to move quickly without sacrificing accuracy.

o Strategy and anticipation - Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter, calls this "telescoping." The gamer must deal with immediate problems while keeping his long-term goals on his horizon.

o Situational awareness - – Defense News reported that the Army include video games to train soldiers to improve their situational awareness in combat. Many strategy games also require the player to become mindful of sudden situational changes in the game and adapt accordingly.

o Developing reading and math skills – The young gamer reads to get instructions, follow storylines of games, and get information from the game texts. Also, using math skills is important to win in many games that involves quantitative analysis like managing resources.

o Perseverance – In higher levels of a game, the player usually fails the first time around, but he keeps on trying until he succeeds and move on to the next level.

o Pattern recognition – Games have internal logic in them, and the player figures it out by recognizing patterns.

o Estimating skills

o Inductive reasoning and hypothesis testing - James Paul Gee, professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that playing a video game is similar to working through a science problem. Like a student in a laboratory, the gamer must come up with a hypothesis. For example, the gamer must constantly try out combinations of weapons and powers to use to defeat an enemy. If one does not work, he changes hypothesis and try the next one. Video games are goal-driven experiences, says Gee, which are fundamental to learning.

o Mapping – The gamer use in-game maps or build maps on his head to navigate around virtual worlds.

o Memory - Playing first person shooter games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield series enables the player to effectively judge what information should be stored in his working memory and what can be discarded considering the task at hand, according to a study published in the Psychological Research.

o Concentration - A study conducted by the Appalachia Educational Laboratory reveal that children with attention-deficit disorder who played Dance Dance Revolution improve their reading scores by helping them concentrate.

o Improved ability to rapidly and accurately recognize visual information - A study from Beth Israel Medical Center NY, found a direct link between skill at video gaming and skill at keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery.

o Reasoned judgments

o Taking risks - Winning in any game involves a player's courage to take risks. Most games do not reward players who play safely.

o How to respond to challenges

o How to respond to frustrations

o How to explore and rethink goals

o Teamwork and cooperation when played with others – Many multiplayer games such as Team Fortress 2 involve cooperation with other online players in order to win. These games encourage players to make the most of their individual skills to contribute to the team. According to a survey by Joan Ganz Cooney Center, teachers report that their students become better collaborators after using digital games in the classroom.

o Management – Management simulation games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo tycoon teach the player to make management decisions and manage the effective use of finite resources. Other games such as Age of Empires and Civilization even simulate managing the course of a civilization.

o Simulation, real world skills. The most well known simulations are flight simulators, which attempt to mimic the reality of flying a plane. All of the controls, including airspeed, wing angles, altimeter, and so on, are displayed for the player, as well as a visual representation of the world, and are updated in real time.

See also List of Video Games That May Be Good for the Brain

Other benefits:

•Video games introduce your kid to computer technology and the online world. You should recognize that we are now living in a high-tech, sophisticated world. Video games make your kid adapt and be comfortable with the concepts of computing. This is particularly important for girls who typically are not as interested in high technology as much as boys.

•Video games allow you and your kid to play together and can be a good bonding activity. Some games are attractive to kids as well as adults, and they could be something that they share in common. When your child knows more than you, he can teach you how to play and this allows you to understand your child’s skills and talents.

•Video games make learning fun. Your kid likes games because of the colors, the animation, the eye candy, as well as the interactivity and the challenge and the rewards of winning. The best way to learn is when the learner is having fun at the same time. That’s why video games are natural teachers. Having fun gives your kid motivation to keep on practicing, which is the only way to learn skills. Video games is also capable of making difficult subjects such as math fun.

• Video games can make your kid creative. A study by the Michigan State University's Children and Technology Project found a relation between video game playing and greater creativity, regardless of gender, race or type of video game played. (In contrast, use of cell phones, the Internet and computers other than video games was unrelated to creativity, the study found).

•Video games can improve your kid’s decision making speed. People who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy, according to a study from the University of Rochester. Other studies suggests that most expert gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second—four times faster than most people, and can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared to only four by the average person. Surprisingly, the violent action games that often worry parents most had the strongest beneficial effect on the brain, according to cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier, who studies the effect of action games at Switzerland's University of Geneva and the University of Rochester in New York.

•Video games increase your kid’s self-confidence and self-esteem as he masters games. In many games, the levels of difficulty are adjustable. As a beginner, your kid begins at the easy level and by constant practicing and slowly building skills, he becomes confident in handling more difficult challenges. Since the cost of failure is lower, he does not fear making mistakes. He takes more risks and explores more. Your kid can transfer this attitude to real life.

•Games that involve multiple players encourage your child to work cooperatively to achieve his goals. Your kid learns to listen to the ideas of others, formulate plans with other kids, and distribute tasks based on skills. Some online games are even played internationally, and this can introduce your kid to players of different nationalities and cultures. This fosters friendships among different people.

•Video games that require your kid to be active, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii Boxing give your kid a good workout. When playing these active games for 10 minutes, your kid spends energy equal to or exceeding that produced by spending the same amount of time on a three miles an hour treadmill walk.

•Video games make players’ visions become more sensitive to slightly different shades of color, according to a University of Rochester study. This is called contrast sensitivity, and observed particularly in first person shooter games players. "When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing," according to lead researcher Daphne Bavelier. The training might be helping the visual system to make better use of the information it receives.

•Video games help children with dyslexia read faster and with better accuracy, according to a study by the journal Current Biology. In addition, Spatial and temporal attention also improved during action video game training. Attentional improvement can directly translate into better reading abilities.

•Kids are not necessarily drawn to video games because of their violence. The attraction lies in their being rewarded by awesome displays of explosions, fireworks, and yes, blood splattering. Also, violent games have the most emotional appeal for kids. But these factors are only secondary to what kids actually enjoy in these games - the opportunity to develop and master skills and have the freedom to make choices in the game universe.

•Violent video games may act as a release of pent-up aggression and frustration of your kid. When your kid vents his frustration and anger in his game, this diffuses his stress. Games can provide a positive aggression outlet the same way as football and other violent sports.

•Playing video games is safer than having your teens do drugs, alcohol and street racing in the real world.

•A study done by researchers at North Carolina State University, York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology concluded that playing online games do not replace offline social lives, but is expanding it. Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm.

•A 2013 study by the Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development and St. Hedwig-Hospital found a significant gray matter increase in the right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum of those who played Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over two months. These regions of the brain are crucial for spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory and motor performance. Indeed, the increased gray matter in these parts of the brain is positively correlated with better memory. Decreased gray matter is correlated with bipolar disorder and dementia. What's also striking is that those who enjoyed playing the game has a more pronounced gain in gray matter volume. The study suggests that video game training could be used to counteract known risk factors for smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume in, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease.

•Another study published in Scientific Reports have found that Action Video Gamers have more gray matter and better integration of brain networks associated with attention and sensorimotor function.

•Finally, according to a study, gamers actually tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than people who make fun of them.”

Raise Smart Kid." Raise Smart Kid. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.

Videogames aren't as bad as you might think. What I mean by this is the positive affects that videogames can have on you for example the it can improve reaction time or relieve you of your stress. The many examples of this are living proof of this just like me.


I agree that video games are a positive impact on teens because like in the article my decision making got better, and as I play more games also I feel as though my reaction time has quickened. However these are just a few of the things that video games have helped me with.

How videogames negetiveley affect you

"Playing violent video games can make some adolescents more hostile, particularly those who are less agreeable, less conscientious and easily angered. But for others, it may offer opportunities to learn new skills and improve social networking.

In a special issue of the journal Review of General Psychology, published in June by the American Psychological Association, researchers looked at several studies that examined the potential uses of video games as a way to improve visual/spatial skills, as a health aid to help manage diabetes or pain and as a tool to complement psychotherapy. One study examined the negative effects of violent video games on some people.

"Much of the attention to video game research has been negative, focusing on potential harm related to addiction, aggression and lowered school performance," said Christopher J. Ferguson, PhD, of Texas A&M International University and guest editor of the issue. "Recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on standardized tests. Violent video games have not created the generation of problem youth so often feared."

In contrast, one study in the special issue shows that video game violence can increase aggression in some individuals, depending on their personalities.

In his research, Patrick Markey, PhD, determined that a certain combination of personality traits can help predict which young people will be more adversely affected by violent video games. "Previous research has shown us that personality traits like psychoticism and aggressiveness intensify the negative effects of violent video games and we wanted to find out why," said Markey.

Markey used the most popular psychological model of personality traits, called the Five-Factor Model, to examine these effects. The model scientifically classifies five personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Analysis of the model showed a "perfect storm" of traits for children who are most likely to become hostile after playing violent video games, according to Markey. Those traits are: high neuroticism (e.g., easily upset, angry, depressed, emotional, etc.), low agreeableness (e.g., little concern for others, indifferent to others feelings, cold, etc.) and low conscientiousness (e.g., break rules, don't keep promises, act without thinking, etc.).

Markey then created his own model, focusing on these three traits, and used it to help predict the effects of violent video games in a sample of 118 teenagers. Each participant played a violent or a non-violent video game and had his or her hostility levels assessed. The teenagers who were highly neurotic, less agreeable and less conscientious tended to be most adversely affected by violent video games, whereas participants who did not possess these personality characteristics were either unaffected or only slightly negatively affected by violent video games.

"These results suggest that it is the simultaneous combination of these personality traits which yield a more powerful predictor of violent video games," said Markey. "Those who are negatively affected have pre-existing dispositions, which make them susceptible to such violent media."

"Violent video games are like peanut butter," said Ferguson. "They are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with pre-existing personality or mental health problems."

The special issue also features articles on the positives of video game play, including as a learning tool. For example: ◾ Video games serve a wide range of emotional, social and intellectual needs, according to a survey of 1,254 seventh and eighth graders. The study's author, Cheryl Olson, PhD, also offers tips to parents on how to minimize potential harm from video games (i.e., supervised play, asking kids why they play certain games, playing video games with their children).

◾ Commercial video games have been shown to help engage and treat patients, especially children, in healthcare settings, according to a research review by Pamela Kato, PhD. For example, some specially tailored video games can help patients with pain management, diabetes treatment and prevention of asthma attacks.

◾ Video games in mental health care settings may help young patients become more cooperative and enthusiastic about psychotherapy. T. Atilla Ceranoglu, M.D., found in his research review that video games can complement the psychological assessment of youth by evaluating cognitive skills and help clarify conflicts during the therapy process"

Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.

Videogames aren't all good though because like any positives there are negatives. Videogames can make you more aggressive if you take them too seriously. Playing videogames does have negatives but the positives are superior to the negatives.Medical News Today

Commentary 2

I do also agree that video games are bad for you because they can be addictive and can cause you to lose sleep making you sleep deprived and tired all day.


Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.

Raise Smart Kid." Raise Smart Kid. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.