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The Positive vs Negative Effects of Video Games on Your Brain

If done healthily, you can reap many benefits from gaming.
IMAGE Hannah Villafuerte

Online gaming has had a steady growth over the years, but even more so during 2020 when most parts of the world had to halt their outdoor activities. Staying at home meant finding new hobbies we could do from the comforts of our sofas and beds. It was also the year when games like Among Us, Valorant, and Genshin Impact saw considerable growth in terms of its core audience and overall popularity.

Bottomline is, video games have taken over the lives of most people, all over the world. That said, getting into video games will have its effects on you--physically and mentally. If you're curious about what playing video games can do, one study decided to look at how video games affected our brains. And the results aren't necessarily a bad thing.

The positive effects of gaming

According the study by Marc Palaus, Elena M. Marron, Raquel Viejo-Sobera, and Diego Redolar-Ripoll, playing games can have a positive impact on one's attention, specifically sustained attention or selective attention. The parts of the brain responsible for attention also required less activation when it comes to demanding tasks among frequent gamers.

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There also seems to be a positive effect on one's visuospatial skills, thanks to gaming. Visuospatial skills are important skills in relation to movement, perception of distance, and identifying spatial relations. One example where such skills are important is driving.

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The negative effects of gaming

Despite the good things video games do to our brains (not to mention, most people view video games as a sort of escape), we still have to be careful with how much of it we engage in. As they say, too much of a good thing can be bad, too.

According to the same study, excessive video game playing may lead to a type of addiction called "internet gaming disorder." Internet gaming disorder refers to excessive gaming despite experiencing negative repercussions from it and is often accompanied by depression, hostility, and social anxiety.

But just how much is too much? It can vary per person, especially since gaming now is widely considered a professional pursuit. But an article on Psychology Today discusses how the International Classification of Disease characterizes excessive gaming as a disorder. It can be manifested by the inability to stop gaming despite experiencing negative consequences, putting gaming above other activities in one's list of priorities, and excessive gaming which results in significantly impairing personal, social, educational, or occupational functioning.

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The article also adds that, to avoid developing problematic gaming habits, you can try observing your gaming habits and schedules and see if they significantly affect your day-to-day functioning or try engaging in other interests outside of gaming.

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Mylene Mendoza
Candy Staff Writer
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