Have you ever heard of “play therapy” before? Yes, play therapy is commonly used as a therapeutic method for children aged 3 to 12 years old to aid them in developing communication and problem-solving skills. In other cases, it’s also used to help children express themselves more freely through play-based activities or processes and move on from stressful and traumatic experiences.
Today, play therapy couldn’t be more apt and “digital”, if you might say because apparently, playing video games has the same effect that “play therapy” has on both kids and adults alike. Playing video games is no longer just a leisure activity meant to be enjoyed by kids. As a matter of fact, studies show that playing video games can actually relieve stress and anxiety levels, and even help fight off depression among adults.
What’s even more interesting is that if you take a look at the demographics, the average age of gamers is not actually kids or teenagers, but these are actual adults aged 34 years old. And surprisingly, there are even more female adult gamers than boys under 18 and the adult women comprise 33% of the video game-playing population.
So before you tell your kids to get their hands off their game consoles, smartphone, or PC, we suggest that you read this first and check out how a healthy amount of gaming can actually work wonders for your mental health.
Increases Cognitive Skills
We have heard numerous arguments about how video games are bad for your health, however, results from decades of studies speak otherwise. The impact of playing video games on the cognition of an individual has long been studied by scientists and psychologists alike and what they found out is that playing video games can actually increase one’s cognitive abilities. In fact, a 15-year study conducted by psychologists at the University of Geneva in Switzerland discovered that action games actually improve the cognitive skills of their subjects particularly in perception, spatial recognition, decision-making, attention, and reaction time.
It’s definitely good news that older players can also reap the health benefits of playing video games. According to The Journal of Neuroscience, “Brain Games” such as memory games, puzzles, and those that involve spatially complex logic and problem-solving tasks can stimulate the brain to slow down memory gaps and actually enhance the muscle memory and brainpower among players between the ages of 45 and 70.
For a lot of people, video games are just the break that they need after a stressful day. It’s similar to getting a warm bath after a long day at work or finally getting that caffeine fix that you know will make you feel better. The thing is that for some people, playing video games provides them the emotional balance that they need after experiencing a lot of pressure from work or personal affairs.
To back up this assumption, consider the experiment done by PopCap Games and the researchers at the East Carolina University wherein they measured the brain activity of casual gamers while playing, and they found out that just after 20 minutes, they saw an increase in heart-rate variability and a decrease in the left frontal alpha brain waves which is tied to alleviate stress levels and improve mood.
Apart from helping you relieve stress, games are also known to reduce anxiety. Playing video games is great at relaxing your mood and helping you calm down. This is because by playing, you are shifting your mental focus to one specific activity that is both fun and enjoyable for you and that gives you a period of peace and pleasure.
Boosts Learning and Social Skills
With games that are more connected than ever today, gaming allows you to connect and meet other people from across the globe. The rise of multi-player games has enabled players to socialize and play together to form teams and for others, build friendships so the stereotype that gamers are introverts who are mostly isolated could never be more wrong. As a matter of fact, 63% of adult gamers play with their friends and other people. Besides encouraging social interactions, video games are also a great platform to showcase educational information and teach relevant issues.
Maintaining an adequate amount of playing time is beneficial to keeping a healthy mind as it helps release aggression or frustration, and it keeps that emotional balance throughout the day. So, the next time you see your kids play video games, perhaps instead of reprimanding them, you should schedule a weekend together with your children where you can both enjoy a game of Call of Duty, Super Mario, Zelda or just indulge yourself in a classic game of Tetris.