To Play or Not to Play: How Different Video Games Can Affect Our Kids

How Video Games Affect Our Kids | Rice Psychology Group in Tampa, FL

Work toward opening up a discussion with your kids about their video games. Click To TweetConsider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.

At Diana’s party last weekend, the topics of conversation over dinner varied wildly, and you could say that a few were about some pretty touchy subjects. For example, we talked about how teachers have so much less time to be creative in their classrooms because of all the testing, how many families we know who have been touched by drug addiction and whether we should be tracking our kids by their cell phones. Surprisingly enough, however, the topic that hit a nerve with most of us was video games and violence. This led to us discussing the types of video games that exist and their potential effects on the brain. Some of Diana’s guests said video games don’t affect your mental state whatsoever, some said that they most definitely do and others said it depends on the type of game. Talk about varied opinions!

Video games have long been the topic of emotionally-charged discussions amongst kids, parents, teachers, physicians and even politicians. It almost seems as if any time a major tragedy strikes at the hands of a school-aged kid, video games are one of the first things to be blamed. In most cases, however, there is too much still unknown to pinpoint an absolute answer.

However, an important research study may have hit upon something interesting; video games can affect your brain differently depending on what you choose to play. Our therapists in Tampa believe this is an important topic to share with you. 

Give your child the option to set their own times to play video games. Click To Tweet

The Study

Scientists have done several studies over the years to determine how people’s health and behavior are affected by video games. This particular study, led by Gregory West, professor of psychology at the University of Montreal, found that individuals who play shooting games (think Call of Duty or Medal of Honor) experience shrinkage in the hippocampus area of the brain.

This is the part of the brain associated with:

  • Spatial Navigation
  • Stress Regulation
  • Memory

On the other hand, individuals who play more “relaxed” games (like Super Mario) experience growth in the same area.

While these findings can be worrisome, Simone Kuhn, professor of neural plasticity at the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, says it’s actually not something to be too concerned about. According to her, shooting games could simply be encouraging gamers to use other parts of their brain instead.

Make a Change

While we still haven’t found solid data on how video games affect our kids, it’s important to try and monitor the time we spend with them. Overuse in gaming is associated with:

  • Depression
  • Lack of Self-Care
  • Sleeping Issues
  • Substance Abuse

Step in with your child’s video gaming when you think it’s starting to become a problem. Click To TweetInstead, you can help to turn video games into a positive experience for everyone by following a simple set of guidelines:

  • Work toward opening up a discussion with your kids about their video games. You can do this by playing these games with him/her. This discussion can highlight how they feel about what they’re playing and how it affects their home and school experiences.
  • Give your child the option to set their own times to play video games. This can help you gauge what they feel is too much play time.
  • Step in with your child’s video gaming when you think it’s starting to become a problem. This can include lower report card grades or never leaving their room.

Talk to Our Counselors in Tampa

If you feel like video games are making too much of a mark in your life or in the lives of those you love, it may be time to visit Rice Psychology Group. We’ll listen to your story attentively to help you determine the best way to move forward. Your health is our goal and our Tampa psychologists are fully committed to helping you reach it. For more information about our services, contact us in Tampa today.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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