The Effects of Gaming

Video gaming is one of the fastest-growing entertainment industries in the world. According to a news report by the Entertainment Software Association, more than 164 million people in the U.S. play video games, with 21% of this demographic being under 18.

Numerous researches to investigate the effects of video gaming on the human brain and psychology have been conducted. In 2017, they gathered and summarized data from 116 such studies to write a systematic review and published it in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Studies show both negative and positive effects of video games on children.

Video Games and Health Problems

Despite such widespread popularity of video games, many people consider it to be the culprit corrupting our society. Many popular games promote negative theme, such as:

-Sexual violence and exploitation (especially against women)
-Killing animals and humans as targets
-Drug abuse
-Vulgar gestures and foul language
-Stereotypical beliefs around genders, races, and sexes.

Excessive gaming can also adversely affect human psychology. The following are negative health effects of video games:

Desensitization to Violence

According to the PEW Internet & American Life Project, 66% of video games played by teens contain violence. Prolonged exposure to videogames containing violent and sexual content, desensitize children to the horrors of violence in real life.

Behavioral Problems

Various studies show that teens who regularly play violent games display aggressive behaviors. They resort to violence in disputes. Many video gamers think of violent behaviors as a sign of strength. Such kids also create trouble in schools.

Gaming Disorder

Uncontrolled, excessive video gaming can become addictive. In June 2018, W.H.O classified gaming addiction as a mental health disorder. A study by the Minneapolis-based National Institute for Media and the Family suggested that addictive video games can heighten levels of depressions and anxiety. Further research shows that gaming disorder can lead to other health problems including obesity, visual impairment, and sleep disorders.

Video gaming may also lead to:

Poor Academic Life

Excessive video gaming can negatively impact your child’s academic life. This is because there is little to no time left for your child to complete their school tasks.

Compromised Social Skills

Children who spend time playing indoors on screens miss out on outdoor social interactions. This may lead to underdeveloped social skills, especially for home-schooled children. We recommend dividing the playing time equally on screen and outside.

Decreased Physical Activity

Did you know? The video gaming world allows your child to play outdoor sports virtually. Video games on football, basketball, and other sports have gained unanimous popularity in the recent years.

However, enabling virtual outdoor sports has decreased participation in them physically. This can lead to poor motor skills in children.

Video Games and Brain Development

Despite the negatives, video games also have some positive effects on child development. Following are the positive impacts that video gaming can have on children:

Enhanced Mental Capacities

Critical evidence mounted from various studies shows that video gaming impacts the function and structure of your child’s brain. The right Hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for visuospatial skills – of long-term gamers was found to be larger than other individuals. As a result, gamers who play First-Person Shooter games have enhanced hand-eye coordination and visuospatial cognition.

Playing games like Angry Birds and Uncharted in which you have to solve puzzles to move to the next level can improve your child’s problem-solving abilities. His or her brain will apply all the skills learned at home and school to quickly come up with a solution to challenges. Children who play puzzle-solving games have improved executive functioning and motor skills.

Increased Mental Flexibility

When playing First-Person Shooter games like Call of Duty or PUBG, you have to keep track of your enemy’s movement, manage resources, and plan your next move all at the same time. You have to quickly analyze the whole situation and make a decision that suits your goals. For example, in PUBG, if you’re collecting energy drinks from a house to improve your health and suddenly the enemy encloses and you have little ammunition, you have to quickly decide between collecting energy drinks or saving ammunition. According to a study from University of Rochester, children who play video games have a decision-making speed that is 25% higher than that of non-players.

Similarly, sometimes you might be running and shooting at your enemy simultaneously. This trains your brain to quickly process a lot of information and jump from one task to another in short bursts. The increased mental flexibility and in turn will develop the ability of efficiently managing multiple tasks at the same time.


When playing a game your child may lose a certain round multiple times before reaching the next level. He’ll keep on trying different methods and strategies until he succeeds. This teaches children to get up every time they fall. They develop inductive reasoning and hypothesis testing.

Teamwork and Cooperation

In order to win in multiplayer games like FIFA, your child will have to cooperate with other team members and play as a single unit. He’ll work with his teammates and brainstorm ideas to formulate strategies. This will instill in young minds the importance of teamwork and make them better collaborators in real life. Some online games like Ludo Star and PUBG that are played intentionally might team your child with a foreign player, introducing him to different cultures.

What can you do?

Though video games can benefit executive functions and general cognition of your child, prolonged use can also pose a threat to his health. To prevent this, fix time slots for playing video games and keep a check on what type of games your child is playing.

If your child displays any symptoms of gaming disorder, immediately seek professional help. If you live in the Ocala, Dunnellon, or Silver Springs areas, our Pediatric Specialists at Kids Health Alliance would gladly help you navigate this challenge. Learn more about us at



Comments are closed.