The Effects of Video Games on Children’s Brains

Flickr-video games-Sherif SalamaDrew, 4Mind4Life
Waking Times

As the number of people playing video games rises, the impact of video games on the human brain becomes a more intriguing research area. Video games are gaining popularity with both children and adults. There is concern among the public that the brutality portrayed on television, as well as within video games, encourages aggressive behavior within its spectators. Critics of this theory remind us that we lack adequate evidence to support this assertion. However, there are some studies demonstrating a connection between video games and a hostile demeanor, as well as disturbed eruptions.

New Brain Studies on Effects of Video Games on Children

Additionally, they have been shown to lower internal restraint. Perusal of these studies and my own experiences with children while they play video games has led me to believe that video games do in fact influence the actions and thoughts of the person playing them. So far it’s proven difficult to discern whether or not the player is impacted after the game has been shut off, or what the magnitude will be or how long that change might endure. Based on the thousands of studies and news pieces on the impact of the violent nature of some television shows, we can assume that violent scenes in video games also aggravate violent behavior.

There is a source who calls the research preliminary, but one has only to look at the results of completed research to see that habitual players of brutal games become desensitized to violence. An increase in aggressive behavior was reported in players while playing a very violent game as well as in those players who were exposed to only a mildly violent game. Playing the game with high levels of violence raised anxiety levels within players much more than within subjects who played less aggressive games.

  • How Video Games Affect Brain Function

    It’s widely known that, for some people, video games incite at least temporary mental imbalance. Look around at devoted players who even play video games on their mobile phones while babbling to themselves excitedly as though they are alone. Visit an arcade and observe irritated players, who have no concern with public opinion as they hit or knock machines in their anger. Video games seem to engulf players, who sit heedless to their environment. Habitual players are also less inclined to share their feelings. When a player is absorbed by their video game playing, are there changes in the brain? Are these changes initiated by some altered brain state?

    One researcher distributed his three hundred participants into three separate groups: people who seldom play; players logging just a few hours each week and heavy gamers, who played several hours a day. Alpha waves appear when the brain is in repose. Beta brain waves, on the other hand, signal animation and stress in the prefrontal region of the brain. The study exposed a larger reduction in beta waves correlated with more time spent playing video games. The players in the heavy gamer group showed a near constant absence of beta brainwave activity.

    Relationship Between Video Games and Mental Health

    This persisted despite turning the game off. This demonstrates a habitual restraint of prefrontal regions of their brains. These people barely ever used this region. These players reported being easily brought to anger, experiencing difficulty concentrating, as well as having to strain to mix with friends. A hostile demeanor is thought to be associated with curtailed use of the prefrontal region of the brain, as well as diminished beta wave activity. Another researcher’s results caused him to arrive at the conclusion that game devotees can experience chronic underuse of key portions of the frontal brain region. This leads to an altered emotional state. This research documented that video games cause a lack of frontal brain use, which alters your mood. This would certainly explain hostile behavior.

    Understanding how the autonomic nervous system is impacted by video games gives us a clearer picture. Agitation and alarm are incited by the play of many video games. Many people are worried that this could impact the autonomic nerves over the long-term. Breathing and heart rate are internal involuntary organ processes linked to the autonomic nerves. Emotional centers in your brain emit electrical signals that can elevate or lower heart rate. Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) are stress hormones in the body that act as message carriers within in the body.

    Brain Activity During Video Games

    These chemical gofers can also increase heart rate. Adrenal glands secrete these hormones in reaction to peril. There is ample research showing elevated blood pressure and heart rate, as well as depletion of oxygen, occur while playing video games. This would indicate that the human brain believes the body is in actual jeopardy and is responding accordingly. Hence, the elevated heart rate. There are many reports of players disregarding their environment and instead viewing the game as the genuine experience.

    This would signify that the players are impacted by the video games. Research has proven that an increase in heart rate and blood pressure occur while a person plays video games. Additionally, prefrontal lobe activity is lowered during game play. These increases could well be the cause for the shifts in attitude. The cause for the hostile behavior and emotionality can easily be explained by these physical changes. The research on the degree of the impact on the player after they stop playing is still in its infancy. Further analysis is still needed. There are a lot of new brain studies being conducted in this niche of psychology.  If you are interested more, consider reading the article that discusses the effects of video games on the brain – and how men are more likely to get addicted to playing than women.

    **This article originally appeared at 4Mind4Life.**

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