Mom Was Wrong: Video Games Make You Smarter

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It turns out my mother was wrong; video games do not rot your brain.

New research from Queen Mary University and University College London gives weight to what kids around the world have been saying since Atari and Nintendo first arrived in living rooms: video games can actually make you smarter! I’m not sure if this applies to the new Pokemon Go game that’s being played around the world.

The study focused on neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to adapt to changing stimuli. Those with neuroplastic brains quickly learn new tasks and form synaptic pathways. The more neuroplastic the brain is, the “younger” the mind.

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The research teams, led by Dr. Brian Glass, took two groups of non-gamers. One group played a fast-paced, real-time strategy game called, Starcraft. The other group played a slower-paced, life simulation game called The Sims. Both groups of non-gamers took a test measuring their cognitive abilities, logged 40 hours playing their respective games, and then took another similar cognitive test.

Those who played Starcraft, which requires the player, command multiple units during a real-time battle scenario, showed marked improvements on the second cognitive test. This result suggests video games requiring the player process of various stimuli and make quick decisions increase brain plasticity. It would seem, according to the study, video games can be used to “exercise” a brain. In other words, playing games like Starcraft keeps your brain young.

The group which played The Sims, however, did not show any marked improvement. Researchers believe The Sims, because of its leisurely pace and lack of quick information-processing, does not train the brain to be neuroplastic. On the other hand, Sims players showed no decrease in cognitive ability; either way mom was wrong. Video games most certainly do not rot the brain.

With the games already mentioned, there are thousands of other games out today.  Games that require them to react to life threatening event such as being attacked, defending your friends, learning techniques of defending themselves while young, and they are able to use critical thinking in most of these situation.  The games today provide that type of a simulation for them with events such as these.

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Either way you look at it, children today are more computer savvy due to the use of technology, continues advancements and that includes video games. They are capable of figuring out the hardest things which takes parents hours to figure out.  Kids today function differently from when we were their age.  Youngsters are simply exposed to so much more technological advancements than when we were as children.  They react more quickly and use a more cognitive approach.

To be honest, speaking as a mom of a teenage son, I refer him home playing games, that I approve of course, than being exposed to violence and all sorts of trouble out on our streets today.

Just an opinion of one mom!



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