Inquiry – Based Essay

Video games have been around since 1958. Since then, they have mildly advanced as technology advanced. This can be seen as a good thing, but also a bad thing.  About half of the American population plays video games currently. Since 2014, video games have made at least $22 billion in profit. The question is, Are video games bad for the development of humans? Most parents think that too much screen time is bad for their children, but studies have shown otherwise. Children enjoy video games for a variety of reasons. It helps them escape the real world which contains stress having to do with parents, school or friends. In a video game you control what happens and the right moves are rewarded. It has room for progress and improvement. Some people think that video games makes kids aggressive and violent. This can be true, but it also relieves stress and aggression. As technology progressed, video games became more explicit and graphic. This is when the ESRB created a ranking system, so kids don’t get exposed to violence and sex too early in their childhood. This is necessary so their development is affected, but is it really affected? This might be a nature vs nurture argument. In this case we are seeing if nurture takes effect. After some research, I concluded that video games are ultimately more beneficial than harmful. Video games can improve health problems, enhance learning ability and skills, and benefits brain development. 

Many people think that video games are usually bad for you for a variety of reasons. They usually think that you’re damaging your eyesight or it’s a waste of time. In this case, many believe that video games are causing gun violence. “The debate over the pros and cons of video games has been going on for almost as long as the games have existed. But since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which one of the killers had a history of playing a shooting video game, discussions on the connection between video games and violence have become more frequent… Many Americans continue to believe that video games cause gun violence, with the issue raised again after recent U.S. mass shootings. The 2017 Pew study found that 65% of adults believed video games contribute a great deal or a fair amount to gun violence. The belief was even higher among people 65 and older, with 82% of seniors making the connection.” (Warnick). This shows how one school shooter with the history of playing shooting video games have cause many to believe that there is a correlation between shooting games and shootings. The fact that the shooter had a history of playing violent video games is true, but this does not prove that those types of video games cause violence. “Harvard University researchers recently examined three meta-analyses that make conflicting claims of video game and aggression research. Their resulting study, published in June in Perspectives on Psychological Science, found that while conclusions from researchers may vary, the available data are essentially in agreement–video games may be associated with a small but potentially negligible increase in aggressive behavior. But research on video games, as a whole says almost nothing on video games and mass violence, according to Maya Mathur, PhD, co-author of the analysis.” (Warnick). Researchers from the best college in the United states have claimed that violent video games might have a small effect in the aggressive personality, but the effect is so little that it doesn’t really matter. There are bigger problems that cause criminals to be criminals. Video games shouldn’t be a concern, especially when it comes to mass violence.  

According to some studies, video games have helped health problems in many ways. Health problems can be helped with medication, but therapy also helps. Video games are like a type of therapy. “Video games also have been used to distract people from acute or chronic pain. They also may represent an effective vehicle to provide health education: they have been developed to educate individuals about fire and street safety, knowledge and self-management of diabetes, and self-management of asthma.  Video games also have potential value in other health-related areas as varied as supporting psychotherapeutic treatment, improving self-esteem, conflict resolution, and improving spirometric measurement.” (Primack). This type of therapy can be used a distraction from pain or other things.  

Video games have strategies and skills used to beat the game. This can be applied to the real world. “‘This is where games really shine, when it comes to these complex concepts,’ she said. A person can simply memorize information to pass a quiz, but a broader appreciation of a complicated concept emerges through gameplay, during which a user either succeeds or fails based on how they use information in specific scenarios.” (Lougheed). People can obviously learn from studying, but it is never fun or entertaining. With video games, you learn many things that can be applied to reality while having fun as well. You are basically studying without even knowing. It is a way of learning that textbooks can’t really provide. “”You’re seeing an integration of concepts into gaming mechanics,” explained Gauthier, adding that early versions of many educational games consisted of trivia challenges that offered little more than a textbook quiz on a computer monitor. Her own academic work has considered the more ambitious design of a game to help science students grasp subtle scientific ideas, such as the randomness of molecular and cellular interactions.” (Lougheed). This shows how video games requires you to retain information to pass certain points in the game. This is basically the equivalent of retaining information from studying to pass a test in school. The difference is that you have fun while playing video games and the information will most likely stay in your brain. Plus, children have more motivation to play video games than to study. “Findings from MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Youth Project (Ito et al., 2008) indicate that children using new media tend to learn from their peers instead of solely, or mostly, from teachers or parents.” (Hamlen). This shows how kids learn more from peers than parents or teachers teaching them things. “Additional findings from the 2008 study included that those who more frequently verbalized about their game performance also performed better, suggesting the possibility of improved strategy and learning from thinking aloud.” (Hamlen). A person playing a video game can realize that they are better if they talk about what they do while playing the game. This can be applied to the real world by speaking your thoughts to learn better. “An overview of the existing literature on action video game (one specific subgenre of video game) play indicates performance benefits after action game play in many domains typically thought of as distinct. This breadth is particularly notable and runs counter to the predominant pattern of results in the learning literature, wherein training facilitates the trained task but typically leads to little benefit to other, even related tasks.” (Bavelier). Sometimes it is hard for some to learn while studying. Video games help you learn without even trying. You are basically training which leads to more proficient learning. Even though you are training and getting better at the game, you are also learning related things that apply to real life. 

Video games can also be beneficial to brain and its development. The therapeutic view of video games can be healthy for the brain. A specific quality that video games enhance is vision. “Action video game play enhances the spatial and temporal resolution of vision as well as its sensitivity (Green et al. 2010). For example, when asked to determine the orientation of a T that is flanked by distracting shapes above and below, can tolerate the distractors being nearer to the T shape while still maintaining a high level of accuracy (Green & Bavelier 2007). Such capacity to resolve small details in the context of clutter, also called crowding acuity, is thought of as a limiting property of spatial vision and is often compromised in low-vision patients who complain that the small print of newspapers is unreadable because letters are unstable and mingle into one another (Legge et al. 1985). In addition, the enhancements noted in this ability as a result of action video game play occur both within and outside the typical eccentricities of game play, a finding that stands in contrast to the bulk of the perceptual learning literature, which finds that learning is typically specific to the trained retinal location.” (Bavelier). In action video games such as war games, it is difficult to spot out enemies at first. There is a lot going on and a lot of structures that you must ignore to see the target. As the eyes get used to seeing the target, the brain neglects everything around it. This was used in another scenario using a T shape while there were distracting shapes around it.  The video game players easily identified the T shape because of their video games experiences. This just proves how video games can develop real world qualities. “Finally, a third aspect of vision found to be enhanced in VGPs is contrast sensitivity, or the ability to detect small changes in levels of gray. Although this effect appears across spatial frequencies, it is particularly pronounced at intermediate spatial frequencies (Li et al. 2009). Thus, contrary to the folk belief that screen time is bad for eyesight, action video game play appears to enhance how well one sees. Video game training, therefore, may become a powerful tool to improve eyesight in situations in which the optics of the eye are not implicated in producing the poor vision (e.g., amblyopia; Bavelier et al. 2010, Li et al. 2011).” (Bavelier). This shows how even though people think video games are bad for the eyes, it actually improves eyesight. It is actually very beneficial to eyesight. “VGPs have also been documented to better their nongamer peers on several aspects of cognition such as visual short-term memory (Anderson et al. 2011, Boot et al. 2008), spatial cognition (Greenfield 2009), multitasking (Green & Bavelier 2006a), and some aspects of executive function (Anderson & Bavelier 2011, Chisholm & Kingstone 2011, Colzato et al. 2010, Karle et al. 2010; but see Bailey et al. 2010 for a different view). For example, whereas NVGPs were markedly slower and less accurate when asked to perform both a peripheral visual search task and a demanding central identification task concurrently [relative to performing the peripheral search task alone, VGPs showed no falloff in performance (Green & Bavelier 2006b)]. Several studies have also documented enhanced task-switching abilities in VGPs, meaning they pay less of a price for switching from one task to another (Andrews & Murphy 2006, Boot et al. 2008, Cain et al. 2012, Colzato et al. 2010, Green et al. 2012, Karle et al. 2010, Strobach et al. 2012)” (Bavelier). Video games can improve many qualities that can help you through life. Multi-tasking is a big quality because you can do many things at once which saves time. They tested non video game players and video game players to do certain tasks and video game players were better at it. “Benefits are also noted in decision making. In one perceptual decision-making task, for instance, VGPs and NVGPs were asked to determine whether the main flow of motion within a random dot kinematogram was to the left or to the right (Figure 2a). Unlike most previous tasks used to study the effect of action gaming, in this task, participants are in control of when to terminate display presentation (by making a decision and pressing the corresponding key). It thereby provides a measure of how participants accumulate information over time in the service of decision making. Indeed, these types of task are well understood in terms of one’s ability to first extract and integrate information from the environment and then to stop the integration and to select an action on the basis of the accumulated information (Palmer et al. 2005, Ratcliff & McKoon 2008). By presenting trials with variable signal-to-noise levels, the task allows the full chronometric and psychometric curves to be mapped, providing a unique description of how information about motion direction accrues over time (Figure 2b). We found that action game play enhances the rate at which information accumulates over time by ∼20% as compared with control participants (Figure 2c). The net result is that VGPs can make more correct decisions per units of time” (Bavelier). Once again, there was a test between the two groups and the video game players were 20% better than the non-video game players. As a result, people who play video games complete tasks better than the people who don’t play video games. These tasks are also way different from the video games that they play, but it still had a positive impact on them. “Some evidence also supports the notion that sustained attention benefits from action video game play. Using the Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.), a computerized test often used to screen for attention deficit disorder, Dye et al. (2009a) found that VGPs responded faster and made no more mistakes than did NVGPs on this test. Briefly, this test requires participants to respond as fast as possible to shapes appearing at the target location, while ignoring the same shapes if they appear at another location.” (Bavelier). Video game players are faster thinkers then people who don’t play video games. This can be very beneficial in life. 

Not only are video games not harmful to human development, but they benefit it in many ways. From improving vision to even helping with health problems. It helps you manage stress and some people can even release dopamine while playing. A video game player is always learning while playing video games without being aware. The fact that they are having fun while learning benefits them a lot.  

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