Are Violent Video Games Improving Your Child’s Mind?

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The effect of violent video games on our children has been a hot-button issue for decades, but the focus has been entirely on the supposed negative effects of the games and their depictions of violence. Few worried mothers have considered that these violent games, specifically first-person shooters such as Call of Duty, might actually have a positive impact on their child’s brain.

Screenshot from the shooter game Nuclear Dawn

Screenshot from the shooter game ‘Nuclear Dawn’

Meanwhile, a new review of research on the positive effects of video games published by the American Psychological Association says those shoot-’em-up video games are actually improving our children’s memory.

While critics continue to dismiss popular video games as intellectually lazy or emotionally desensitizing, the researchers found playing can actually improve a range of cognitive abilities including spacial navigation, reasoning, memory, and perception. This outcome is backed by a 2013 meta-analysis which found playing shooter games improved a player’s ability to think about objects in three dimensions just as well as academic classes aimed at improving those skills.

Most interestingly, these effects were only found for first-person shooters, not puzzle or role-playing games. However, a separate report says adolescents who reported playing strategic video games, such as role-playing games, improved in problem solving and school grades the following year.

The researchers also stated that playing video games may also help children develop problem-solving skills. Simple, quick games like Angry Birds were also found to improve mood and promote relaxation.

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