Video games are important for mental development, in moderation

Image by RebeccaPollard via Flickr

Jessica Hierro | Contributing Writer


I remember when I was just a kid, my dad would play Mario Bros. with me on the Nintendo Entertainment System instead of reading a book before bedtime. It was the best. The love of video games is so embedded in me to now that I realize how much they play a part in people’s growth and development; in ways both good and bad.

One of my favorite game series is The Legend of Zelda, and I find it amazing how some of the things I do in the digital world can translate into the real world. Games can teach others of how to be aware of their surroundings. You have to know if there are enemies nearby or be able to assume where they will be hiding for an ambush.

Video games teach players how to think critically in different situations in order to move on to the next step. It makes people think “what do I have to do next?” and be swift in their decision-making to formulate a strategy quickly. Problem solving skills are also enhanced, which increases confidence that they are making the right moves.

In almost every single game genre, there is a need for strategy to be victorious. It forces people to look to the details of how things work and how their actions will create a reaction in hopes it will be to their benefit. Memory skills develop as the game story line progresses and players need to recall what gear they have and how to use it in the best way.

What I find amazing is how video games can be a stress reliever. There’s nothing better than button-mashing the stress away after a long day. There has even been scientific research on how video games can even help those who have mental health problems such as ADHD and Alzheimers disease.

I’m not saying that video games perfect. Like everything, they should be taken in moderation. Video games can easily turn into an addiction, given how much they stimulate the brain. Further, in the digital world, you are not yourself. You can be whoever you want to be, in a way that is often seen as an escape from reality.

A game well known for this is World of Warcraft, where people often begin neglecting their responsibilities, relationships and hygiene while questing for pixellated armor and goods. It’s not worth straining one’s real life for something that is made of pixels with no value aside from in-game currency.

Video games are like exercise for the brain – while it’s beneficial, users need to take a break from hours of playing to enjoy real life. As much as they can stimulate the mind and develop sharp skills, playing in moderation is always important to keep in mind.


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