Video Games and Mental Health: How Gaming Can Improve Your Health
This year has been rough on everyone’s mental health, and many are searching for healthy ways to cope with their emotions. That’s why many individuals have been turning to video games for solace in order to escape.
What is the connection between video games and mental health? Can they really improve a player’s mental health?
Many studies have been done to figure out the link between mental health and video games. They show that there is a clear link between mental health and video games. Here are some of the benefits that video games can provide.
Can Video Games Improve Mental Health?
There have been many scientific studies detailing the effects of video games on the mental health of players. These benefits are not restricted to children; video games also benefit adults!. There is no one genre of video game that works for everyone, so you may have to test what games benefit you.
For example, one scientific study examined how video games affected veterans who were suffering from mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD. Once they had become invested in the games, they were able to overcome their symptoms with spectacular ease. There were a number of different genres that were tested, and it was proven that distracting themselves with video games that they personally enjoyed helped most veterans overcome or ignore their symptoms.
This is just one of the many studies done to examine the psychological effect that video games have on players. There are many more that you can read at your leisure as well.
The Many Benefits of Video Games
Video games provide many benefits to the mind and body alike. Here are just a few of the ways that video games can help your mental and physical health.
Improve Social Skills
While many view gamers as antisocial shut-ins, that simply isn’t the case! Many video games are massively multiplayer, meaning you have to play either on a team or combatively against other players. These types of games have been drawing in gamers from around the globe.
By routinely playing multiplayer games, those who enjoy gaming can boost their social skills and make new friends. After all, the better you are able to form relationships in-game, the more likely you are to win as a team.
Social skills are important in keeping your mental health strong and stable. Building a strong support network online through video games can do wonders for your mental health.
Improve Manual Dexterity
Video games are great for improving manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination in players. Video game controllers are designed in such a way that players need to have good wrist and finger dexterity to succeed. Over time, these areas can become more flexible.
People who have suffered strokes can benefit greatly from video games. Companies have designed special controllers that can build strength in the hands and wrists. These are used by physical therapists all over the world to help their patients.
Increase Physical Activity
Believe it or not, video games are a wonderful way to get yourself off of the couch and on your feet! Virtual reality headsets allow the players to get off the couch and on their feet. You don’t have to stay stationary while you play!
Some games can even be enjoyed without a virtual reality headset. There are even game systems that use tracking devices in their controllers to force the player to get active.
Regular exercise is one step towards improving mental health and boosting your mood. If you want to be able to exercise from the comforts of home without it feeling like a workout, video games may be just what you need.
Improve Problem-Solving Abilities
Games often design their levels or worlds to be puzzle-based, forcing the player to work their way to a solution in order to move on in the game. This makes players think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving. This can help players in the real world as well as they face daily challenges.
There are many different game genres you can try to train your problem-solving abilities. These include puzzle games, escape room games, and many more!
Improve Attention and Vigilance
Most video games require intense concentration in order to pick up on minute details in the environment. This causes the player to become in tune with the world around them. In order to survive in-game, they have to be able to pick up on environmental, behavioral, and contextual clues.
Individuals can improve their spatial awareness in open-world and adventure-style games, as they often involve wandering around large spaces with little direction. This is an important skill to have when driving, as you need to constantly be aware of your surroundings in order to prevent accidents.
Action games and shooting games both help the player to focus on a specific target while also being surrounded by distractors. This can include both on and off-screen targets, which means that the games can improve a player’s object permanence as well, tracking objects that are moving off-screen.
Video games have even been shown to help those with dyslexia since it is an issue with visual attention. By forcing the player to focus on set targets within the game, the player can improve their attention, which can translate into the real world as well.
Improve Executive Function
Executive function refers to how the brain processes and stores information, as well as how the brain allocates resources such as energy and attention. This relates to memory, perception, concentration, and much more. Many individuals who suffer from mental illness struggle with executive function, meaning that their brain can’t properly process or react to the world around it.
Video games can help to improve executive function in many ways. To start, video games can improve your ability to concentrate on multiple activities at once; whether you have a main quest and several side quests in an MMORPG or have several enemies targeting you at once in a shooting game, your brain is forced to split its concentration onto more than one subject.
Many games test your memory either with intricate puzzles, codes, or clues that you need to remember in order to proceed in the game. The brain is taught to recall the concepts it takes in, improving short and long-term memory over time. Because games can improve cognitive and executive functioning, some care facilities utilize video games for elderly residents in order to work with their memory and abilities.
Most individuals consider video games to be very cathartic when in stressful situations. They can provide a calming distraction for some to relax with, or be a way for some to vent their frustrations with.
The added boost to your mood can also help relieve feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. Even playing a simple game on your phone for five minutes can do a lot to curb any anxious feelings you may be having, as your brain can turn its attention fulling to whatever game you are playing instead. Having a distraction to get you out of negative thoughts can do wonders for your mental health.
Improvements in Job-Related Skills
Individuals who have chosen careers in areas that require hand-eye coordination, a great deal of concentration, or good problem-solving abilities have been shown to perform better at work if they play video games in their spare time. This is because the games test those same abilities in an environment with no real-world consequences. Being able to train your mental prowess without needing to worry about messing up a sale or ruining a new product is great for the brain.
Even surgeons have shown increased abilities in their jobs after training themselves with video games. There are many programs and games related to various careers, so if you want to improve at work, then testing out a game at home can make a world of difference.
Can Be Great Learning Exercises
Children can gain a lot from video games by learning without realizing that they’re learning. There are hundreds of games designed to help children learn various subjects, such as math, English, typing, and more! If your child needs a little tutoring outside of school, or you want to start preparing them for school early, then video games are a great tool for you.
However, the learning doesn’t stop as you age. Video games can teach a variety of lessons and skills to adults as well, such as history, technology, and problem-solving. While what you learn in-game should be taken with a grain of salt, there are video games that were based on real-life events and situations that you can learn from.
Improve Persistence and Perseverance
When a situation gets difficult or frustrating, it’s not uncommon to want to give up and move onto something different. However, video games encourage players to continue through difficult situations so they can move on to new levels and challenges.
Testing a player’s perseverance is a big aspect of gaming, as game developers have to ride a thin line between creating a game that’s impossible and creating a game that is challenging. Most succeed in building a game that is just difficult enough to force a player to persist even through challenging puzzles or battles.
Video games also encourage players to learn from their mistakes so that if they fail, they can try again with new knowledge. This is an important skill to learn and bring into the real world.
Can Improve Vision
Video games can actually help to improve visual awareness in players! While there are exceptions to this rule, video games have been shown to improve a player’s ability to distinguish between various shades of grey and can be used as a way to treat amblyopia.
Visual contrast sensitivity can be improved through hours of playing video games. Games hone the player’s ability to make out slight details in their environment in order to move on to new levels within the game. You are rewarded for being able to pick up on these differences either in the form of experience points or not being killed by an enemy.
Amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye, can even be treated with video games. This is done by training the lazy eye over a period of time while covering the individual’s good eye. Many adults with the disorder were able to regain full control of their eye by the end of their treatment.
While video games can be used to improve eyesight to a certain extent, you should still use caution when playing. Blue light emitted from computer and TV screens can have a negative impact on the eyes if you either sit too close to the screen or use it for too long. Make sure to play wisely and pay attention to how your eyes feel; if they become dry or sore, then you should stop playing for a while.
Can Promote Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of keeping your mind and body in the moment. Mindfulness is the act of keeping your mind and body in the moment. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness; video games are just one great example!
Video games force players to envelop themselves in the make-believe world inside of the game, allowing them to place their focus on then and now. This helps the mind recover from stressful situations by directing its attention elsewhere.
Video Games and Mental Health Explained
As you can see, there is a very clear link between video games and mental health, and the benefits that games can provide are extensive. If you want a fast way to boost your mood and improve yourself, then pick up your favorite game and start playing!
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