Something All Kids (& Parents) Should Know About Video Games

Did you play an hour of video games today? If you said no, then you are going to want to read the rest of this…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Sian Beilock’s book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To. In addition to explaining how writing down our thoughts before we take a big test can increase our test scores, Beilock wrote about a topic that could be very important to young people everywhere.

Beilock showed that playing action video games can improve your brainpower.

Yes, you read that correctly. Spending multiple hours a week playing games like Call of Duty and Gears of War actually improves core cognitive abilities.

To explain this, Beilock used a study where college students with little previous video game experience were asked to play Medal of Honor for ten days in a row. The examiners explained that Medal of Honor was chosen because the “wartime objectives require working-memory. Players must constantly move their attention from one aspect of the game to another so that they do not miss incoming enemies or new developments. While doing this, they must also keep their mission goals updated and fresh in their minds. In short, players must juggle a number of tasks at once and, to succeed, they can’t drop the ball on any front.”

The study found that after playing Medal of Honor an hour a day for ten days, the students exhibited improved memory and attention abilities on a number of different tasks. It appeared that the better the students got at the game, the better their attention and memory skills got outside the game.

As a 14 year old, I would have loved hearing about this study. I would have used it as ammo anytime my parents told me to stop playing video games.

But, I guess, as a 14 year old I never would have actually read this story because I would have been too busy playing video games all day.

That is another thing that Beilock finds. It appears that the benefits of playing video games occur only after an hour of play a day. Playing for eight hours a day has diminishing returns in improving brain power.

The old adage used to be, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  I would like to recommend a new saying for today’s generation.

“An hour of video games a day will increase your pay.”

Sounds like a good bumper sticker to me.

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