Love them or hate them, video games have become an important part of popular culture and look like they are here to stay. The video game industry is the largest in the entertainment sector, generating more revenue than all the other industries combined – including film and music!
During lockdown the overall UK gaming population has increased by 63%. Why? Two thirds of all gamers agreed that gaming was a great way to escape the current pandemic. For a lot of children and adolescents during lockdown, gaming was the only meaningful social contact they had with friends for months. A study by Oxford University suggests that experiences of competence and social connection with others through play may contribute to player’s well-being.
Gaming is good for mental health and wellbeing? Well, it is not that hard to believe. Video games are fun and interesting, fun and interesting things make us happy. To most parents though, gaming looks like a fun waste of time. This belief is further reinforced by the persistent negative stigma gaming receives in the press.
Play has been proven to be one of the main ways children develop and learn. Playing computer games can benefit children in the following ways :
- Helps them to develop a sense of self. How a child sees themselves and the characteristics that define them. The development of their self-image, self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Academically- Skills in gaming that can cross over to the classroom include planning, organising, maths, coding, design, reading, imaginative play and creativity.
- Acquiring valuable life skills in logic, goal setting, problem solving and multitasking. Learning how to make and take ownership of their choices. Empathy.
- Cognitive development- an improvement in visual-spatial skills, coordination, attention, brain speed, memory and concentration.
- Social interactions and connections. The interactive aspect of some games can be beneficial for children who struggle with face-to-face social interactions. Gaming can provide a great space for children to practice their social skills and improve social connections, with over 70% of gamers playing with friends.
To any children or adolescents reading this – don’t get too excited! We are yet to fully understand the impact of video games (both positive and negative) on gamers. A small percentage of people develop unhealthy relationships with gaming, just as some do with exercise or food for example. If gaming interferes with daily routines and healthy activities, especially sleep, then it’s time to take a break from it. If you are concerned and need advice we recommend visiting https://www.itv.com/thismorning/articles/gaming-addiction-helplines