Negative Effects of Video Games on the Brain

In research published in 2005 in the American Behavioral Scientist, the authors identified a reduction of vocabulary and oral language in children who attended the program Teletubbies. However, they also reported a positive effect of the cartoon Clifford on the same skills. How far should we guide our education based on results of this type? I believe that with a few caveats. Many of the research linking the use of technology and cognitive development have methodological limitations – the main one is that many variables are not taken into account. For example, a superficial reading of the conclusions from a study of 800 children released by Pediatrics 2009 suggests that the number of hours in front of the TV is proportional to a less developed language skills. However, further analysis reveals that factors such as family income and maternal breastfeeding duration significantly influence this association.

Negative Effects of Video Games on the Brain


Some encourage the use of technology, especially the game makers; others, including many scientists, believe that early intimacy with the electronics can bring risks. The psychologist, Douglas Gentile of the University of Iowa researcher of media effects on children and adolescents, says that the issue goes beyond being against or favor because the games are already entered in the reality of thousands of children worldwide.

In an article published in Psychological ScienceResearchers recruited several parents who planned to buy a toy for your children and offered the device in exchange for participation. The children were divided into two groups: some received the gift immediately and the other just four months later. According to the authors, who won the first game were down in reading and writing skills compared to waiting to receive it.

According to Daphne Bavelier, a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York, it makes no sense to speak only in positive and negative consequences of watching television or playing video games. Like all human experience, these are also multidimensional.

Besides the pedagogical use, the games have also shown potential to treat and rehabilitate patients with brain damage. Virtual challenges help alleviate symptoms in people with dementia and schizophrenia. Doug Han psychiatrists, the Chung-Ang University in Korea, and Perry Renshaw of the University of Utah believe in the potential of games created to develop social behavior. In an experiment with children with autism spectrum disorders was observed a modification of brain activity in areas associated with emotional response, suggesting the positive effect of training.

Despite the growing interest in neuroscience on the subject, the mechanisms involved in stimulating brain plasticity by game still need to be elucidated. We think, however, in a hypothetical situation, a 13-year-old who spends a few hours a week playing video games: a reduction in school performance is predictable. The violent content will generate thoughts and feelings of aggression, which may modify the behavior. But as I said Daphne Bavelier, these beneficial effects have great chances to be accompanied by other harmful, such as antisocial and violent behavior. The use of commercial video games for educational purposes is therefore quite controversial.

In recent years many studies were published whose reading reinforces the idea that learning through audiovisual resources is much less effective than that mediated by parents or educators. Babies and children learn a lot more about the world when interacting with people. Throughout evolution, the construction of the human brain has been grounded in social interaction. It is unlikely that any technological apparatus can replace it satisfactorily.