Is gaming really killing our brains?

Since the dawn of society, games have been considered a source of recreation and have evolved into many forms and formats; from social activities to sports. But today's games aren't always considered so healthy.

Is gaming really killing our brains?

Many people believe that playing video games is a waste of time and that it actively decreases brain activity in children. Often when parents see their kids playing games rather than doing their homework, they see it as unproductive and of course there is the typical stereotype of teenager, locked in bedroom, preferring games to conversation.

This bias attitude may be for many different reasons. People from the older generation may see video games as a waste of time because they haven't been exposed to them at an early stage, meaning they can't share the same passion kids have. Their ideas about recreational activities will be different, and screen-based activities probably seem more insular for people who haven't grown up playing in this way.

The negative images of gamers - the image often given in the media about kids beings addicted to violent games and causing harm to others because of them - gives a one dimensional view of video games. Many games require quick thinking and puzzle solving, and they can really grow kids' creativity. Think how much a book or film can expand your mind and your ideas about the world - why not a video game?

Back in the 19th century workers would pass their break time drinking or fighting to relax between hard labour, so employers got them to do more productive activities like sports, games or even stamp collecting to keep the workers happy and motivated. This was called rational recreation and proved to keep the workers satisfied and de-stressed. Strikes went down, productivity went up.

Back in the early 90s if kids wanted to interact or bond with others in their age group, they had to go out and spend time outside playing games and socialising with other kids; more than 20 years later the advancement of technology in gaming has allowed kids play and interact with other kids online, on their consoles, smart devices or phones. Does that make them lazier or less social, or have the means of communication simply changed? Is the issue with the games they're playing themselves, or do we blame technology for making recreational activity easier to access?

To go back to the original question - is gaming really killing our brains? - we have to question what causes us to play games in the first place, and the answer to that is simple: pleasure.

To dip into a bit of psychology, poet Charles Follen, simply discusses that the 3 elements of feeling are: pleasure, desire and pain. He explains that humans and animal alike feel pain and seek pleasure. We as a society always seek to better ourselves and to always gain pleasure when we see pain (dissatisfaction).

Recreational activities like sports, reading and even playing video games can give us pleasure and can offer a moment of relaxation in between hard work. If seen as a period of time away from dull and hard labour, it is simply a different form of rational recreation to keep us workers happy and less likely to strike - i.e. more likely to focus on exams, make an effort at work and enjoy school IF we are given moments of relaxing escapism from time to time.

Of course there are ups and downs to video games, only one of which is addiction and laziness, alongside stress relief, imagination growth, online sociability and relaxation.

Image via Flickr


Idriss Assoumanou

Idriss Assoumanou Contributor

Idriss is a Film Maker and photographer based in Birmingham. He has directed and produced many films over the years and has mentored a lot of people on their first journey into film making. He likes to write articles based on art and creativity, like his industry 'how to…' guides, where he explains and shares his experiences in film making and other areas. He also films and edits professional showreel scenes for actors to add to their portofio.

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  • On 11 April 2016, 04:48 [Deleted User] commented:

    An immense pleasure in online gaming leads us towards games like rummy, poker, bridge and various other games. A type of addiction leads us to play these online games. RummyCircle.

  • On 21 April 2016, 20:13 [Deleted User] commented:

    Interesting article you have written and very thought provoking. I recommend a book called The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. It might be right up your street about how the internet is changing the way we think.

  • On 13 June 2016, 10:52 [Deleted User] commented:

    Good and useful website for everyone to play the Unblocked Games.

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