Video games and the brain: the negative

This article will address the negative aspectsof video games on behavior and cognition.

Research has shown that video games can positively affect an individual’s behavioral and cognitive skills. However, we must also accept that harmful effects can also occur with repeated exposure to video games. Indeed, just as certain games can help develop perceptual and cognitive skills, they can also lead to the development of maladaptive behaviors. Pro-social games were shown to more often lead to daily displays of helping behavior toward others. In contrast, exposure to violent games led to neutral or less positive behaviors than expected. In fact, in a longitudinal study led by Dr. Gentile, a renowned researcher on the effects of video games on cognition, the results showed that children who played more pro-social games at the beginning of the school year demonstrated more helpful and empathetic behaviors later in the school year. The opposite was true for children exposed to more violent games, who did not necessarily exhibit “violent” behavior, but who demonstrated significantly less empathetic behavior.

Other than an addiction to violence and an appearance of less pro-social behavior that the violent content of certain games can confer on young people, certain studies also show that children accustomed to maintaining their attention on fast-paced games and on increasingly complex stimulating activities found it increasingly difficult to do the same when faced with less stimulating and slower activities. When a person becomes accustomed to being stimulated in this way for extended periods of time, it becomes more difficult for them to sustain their attention on a slow-paced activity, such as a school lesson or watching a movie. a documentary. Other difficulties also arise following the regular practice of such games over long periods of time, or when “addiction” sets in; Indeed, excessive use of the internet or games can lead to harmful consequences on behavior such as social withdrawal, loneliness, depression, irritability and intolerance or even difficulty concentrating on a task. unstimulating work or in less rewarding social environments. Some people may also see their frustration threshold lowered: aggressive behavior, shouting for example, or physical behavior may occur in people faced with repeated obstacles that they struggle to overcome, or even events forcing them to interrupt or temporarily stop end their activities in an impromptu manner.

Furthermore, time spent playing video games also means less time invested in studies or sports: while it is not uncommon to see some of these students spending less time and efforts to work on their projects or study for exams (which can sometimes compromise academic success), others will be more prone to health problems such as neck pain, reduced cardiovascular functioning or being overweight.

The advent of violent games can also desensitize some people, moving them away from the much sought-after empathetic behaviors and instead guiding them towards a cold, analytical and factual approach: being exposed to violence can lead some people to become indifferent, desensitized or less reactive when They are confronted with events supposed to arouse compassion. It is therefore no coincidence that military personnel increasingly use such games and techniques to attract, hire and train new candidates. Desensitization nevertheless has its place within certain contexts, scenarios or professions: take for example, software for training surgical procedures which prepares doctors not to react or feel anything during specific procedures.

It still remains that Dr. Gentile takes up this whole problem with video games in an eloquent way, affirming that “everything we practice repeatedly affects the brain; but if we regularly practice aggressive ways of thinking, to feel and to react, we ultimately only become better at implementing them. This does not mean without saying that violent games necessarily provoke violent behavior, because, in fact, human aggression is complex and multi-causal. But the reality remains that when we practice being vigilant towards an enemy and then reacting quickly to potentially aggressive threats, we eventually become accustomed to simply repeating this script in our own lives.” In other words, when we practice 1) constantly being stimulated by sounds – images – noises, or being tense and alert; when we practice 2) being quiet and alone for long periods of time, then when we practice 3) inactivity, we also practice forgetting how to 1) remain clear, focused and relaxed; to forget how to 2) interact socially and initiate or maintain conversations; to forget how to 3) practice, maintain and promote healthy lifestyle habits.

Again, it is important to remember that video games have positive applications. Let us remember that the right tools used in a specific and appropriate way to meet specific needs within a specific context could likely prove very useful and open the door to more and more immersive intervention means. In any case, successfully teaching your child how to balance responsibility, necessity and pleasure together allows you to establish foundations that will be very useful to them in the future and which will allow them to lead a healthy lifestyle.