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The effect of video games on the young brain

Last updated on 01.07.2020

Popularizing video games

Ever since the late 1900s, video gaming has become a popular way to entertain one’s self and has become even more popular in the early 2000s. As young children began to play more video games rather than going outside and playing with other children, parents, adults, and intellectuals have noticed that those children are socially awkward when it comes to having a conversation with someone in a social setting. The words just can not come out of the child’s mouth and they are not able to talk even though they might want to.

Many studies have been made concerning this topic of whether or not video games actually affect the child’s ability to socially interact with others in their age group. Research has shown that there are negative and positive effects of video gaming but I will be discussing how video games can negatively affect the child’s brain leading the child to lack the social skills needed in daily life. The purpose of this introduction was to provide background details, a backstory regarding my topic, and portray my argument that will be supported by the following annotated bibliography.

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The annotated bibliography that follows is intended to propose evidence that leads to the conclusion that video games do in fact cause young adolescents to become introverts because they are indoors and do not communicate with others while playing the video games. Although some video games do have the option of communicating with other players, it is very different to communicate with someone through a video game than interact with someone in real life. There are certain skills that need to be acquired during this time that is spent on video games and the video games are certainly not helping. The following will better educate you on this topic.

Social interactions of children

Chiara Bacigalupa studied the social interactions of children which took place in a family child care home in a middle-class neighborhood. The caregiver and Chiara noticed that the child spent most of their time with video games whether it was playing video games, being distracted by video games or watching others play the video games which caused the interactions between the children to lack. For instance, when the author discussed how the children’s eyes were fixated on the tv screen and did not look at each other when they interacted, he later mentioned: “It is important to note that it was not only the children who chose to play video games who lost opportunities to develop social skills”.

This supports that video games cause children to lose the chances of developing social skills because they are not talking with one another and even if they are talking they are not even facing each other when they do, that’s not normal and will not be accepted later on in their lives. For example, during a video game, the children just observe others and does not ask about other methods/solutions in beating the next level, the author states “video games did not provide these children with that kind of experience”. This proves the argument that video games stunt children form having experiences that are needed in real-life situations. In the end, the author concludes that when video games are present around children, the social skills are not being formed they are distracted by the video games and do not communicate or do not communicate well enough with others their age.

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Video Games and Human Consciousness

Researchers test and studied data to prove that there is a negative association with video game experience and passionate cognitive control. Researchers tested this by studying low-level gamers and high-level gamers to see if there was any difference in cognitive levels between the two. It was found that there was a difference which was that “in low gamers, a typical pattern of neural recruitment was observed, that reflected greater activation of anterior cingulate and lateral frontal cortex for incongruent blocks of trials. In contrast, high gamers failed to activate these structures while performing incongruent trials”. This confirms that high levels of video gaming can actually prevent/cause certain structures of the brain to not develop even though they are supposed to.

To add on, when the author was talking about the cingulate cortex he stated that “the high gamers were unable to maintain proactive control over the delay in the long RSI condition”. This indicates that even though proactive control was alike in high and low gamers, the high gamers were not able to continue the long RSI condition. To conclude, although there are many video games that are in fact good for the brain and relaxing, some games clearly suggest that too many hours of video gaming can lessen cognitive control which affects a person’s ability to pay attention more and process information.

Positive influence

This article discusses how recreational video games can actually have a positive effect on cognitive skills in young children. An example of this would be when the author talked about the findings that took place in the research and said “findings showed improved spatial skill performance among those children who played the game relative to their counterparts who played a word game”.

According to this evidence, adolescents’ ability to reason, understand, and remember something is enhanced from playing video games, but this is not true for all video games. This research applies to the video games Tetris and Marble Madness so other, more violent video games may not have the same effect as these ones. The authors of this article also argue that the more consistent a child plays the video game, the more likely they are to figure out different strategies for the game.

For instance, after the authors talked about developmental differences they stated that “the findings above demonstrate that frequency of play influences the strategies that children and adolescents report when asked about their gameplay”. This demonstrates that children and adolescents are able to use cognitive thinking to create more solutions to a given problem which, in the end leads to the fact that video games actually improve cognitive functioning.

Downgrade to basic human feelings

The main points of this article was that the higher skilled and more professional in a game an adolescent is, then the more likely the child is to lower the sense of having responsibility or care about certain things. For instance, when the authors discussed the pro-social motivations and anti-social motivations it stated that “in general, younger male gamers who were highly skilled, had a higher suspension of disbelief and who had a decreased sense of responsibility were most likely to game with anti-social motivations”. This supports the fact that adolescents have a higher chance of gaming with anti-social intentions, to not want to talk with others.

The child might be just looking to be alone and will turn to video games as a way of “getting out of their world”. Also, the author also mentions that “in general, pro-social gaming motivations were highest in highly-skilled and less-educated gamers who felt a greater sense of control over their game character”. This indicates that when gaming is used with prosocial intentions, players feel a greater connection to the game character which means that this improves their interaction/attachment skills. Overall, video gaming can be used with prosocial intentions, the player wanting to interact with the game and other players, or it can be used with anti-social intentions, the child wanting to be in their own worlds and not talk to anyone.

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Influence video games on social skills on young children

The authors of this article discuss and prove the effect of video games on social skills in young children and adolescents. There was a study that was conducted on undergraduate students in college and this study looked further into how computer video games showed affected the student’s social skills. For example, in this study, it was found that “undergraduate students who spent more time playing computer videogames evidenced a higher degree of social anxiety”. This specifies that the more a college student was to play video games, the more they would be afraid to communicate with others which would later make them to be introverts. This is because the student only knows how to play the video game and has not gone out into the world to experience and develop good social skills.

Furthermore, a similar study was done to younger children who are in elementary school and indistinguishable results were found. For instance, the study results stated that “… Found that students in second grade who scored higher on a computer game addiction questionnaire had less quantity and quality of social skills when compared to students who were not addicted to games” . This proves the argument video games do affect social hat in young children because the children who did not play games as much we’re able to speak well and communicate well others while the children who did play a lot of games were not able to communicate as much or as well. To sum up, the studies that this article was about proved students’ social skills “, who are either in college or in elementary, are affected by video games.

Video games and the attitude of the child to school

A study was conducted to test the correlation between video game scores and the student’s participation in school and other extracurricular activities. This study used volunteer participants who were in college and each contributor was asked various yes or no questions and if they scored a 4 or higher, this meant that the test subject had an issue. As an example, the authors state that “additionally, among high school students, there was no correlation between PVP scores and reported participation in clubs and other extracurricular school activities”.

This piece of evidence supports the opposite argument that video games do not have an effect on a student’s social environment. But to argue against this, we do not know the time frame for this study, for all we know this study could have been a two to three-day test. Usually, for tests that study the brain and social skill development, we would need a longer time frame to fully study the results and make sure the tests are accurate.

In addition, the article also states that “Items on the CVGBI regarding academic, work, social and physical reactions need to be revised to product more coherent factors”. This reveals that the researchers of this study do not even trust their own information so why should we trust the results that they are giving us? Also, this study has test subjects that evaluate themselves and send in the information. This will obviously not be credible information because people can lie about themselves and giving the wrong results to the researchers. To conclude, this article supports the argument that video games do not have any negative effect on social skills, academic and workability, or physical reactions.

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Different countries

Numerous amounts of studies were done in 7 countries, the United States, Switzerland, Brazil, Australia, China, South Korea, and Turkey, testing the effects of videogames on the cognitive functioning of the brain with over 926 participants.

This study had participants play virtually-active video games for a total of 15 to 60 minutes every day for 10 weeks, but this actually improved cognitive functioning. For example, after the article discussed the study and what type of games they used it states that “this shows exergame interventions improved overall cognitive functioning significantly more than control conditions”. This indicates that video games that require you to be physically active can actually improve cognitive function. But, this does seem logical because it is proven that regular physical activity improves brain functioning and active video games are practically physical exercise.

To add on, the article states that in some of the tests the had positive outcomes but only were tested on healthy adults. For instance, when the article said that tests wanted to be conducted to see if physically-active video games had a more positive outcome than regular exercise, it states that “significant benefits of exergames were also observed in the subgroup of trials which studied only healthy adults”. This proves that this certain test demonstrated that videogames are helpful for cognitive functioning but this test does not study the adolescents’ young brain and if video games help develop cognitive functioning. Overall, this article supported the argument that video games do help develop and have benefits for cognitive functioning.

Video games frequently and are addicted to playing these games

Brain imaging was conducted on adolescents who play video games frequently and are addicted to playing these games. Many results were found in this test of how the structures in a child’s brain is negatively affected due to frequent video gameplay. For instance, when the article was discussing the different measurements that the study investigated, it stated that “multiple structural changes of the brain were found such as decreased gray matter volume in the bilateral DLPFC, the supplementary motor area (SMA), the OFC, the cerebellum and the left rostral ACC (rACC) in internet-addicted subjects”.

This indicates that young adolescents’ brain structures get altered and these structures that are being affected are structures such as the gray matter in the brain which includes regions that involve speech, emotions, decision-making, and many more. Since these video games affect the areas of the brain involving speech this could lead to the theory that video games actually can affect the talking skills in a young child. Furthermore, another study was included in this article which put to test regional homogeneity and other motor coordination related regions of the brain to see if video games affect visual and auditory functions and the results were the same as before. For instance, after the article mentioned the different areas of the brain that the study would test for, it stated that “in addition, IGA subjects showed decreased ReHo in temporal, occipital and parietal brain regions that are responsible for visual and auditory functions”. This further proves that video games are responsible for children becoming adolescents because as stated above, actual structures in the brain are being changed negatively such as the auditory regions, the sound/speech regions. To conclude, this article supports the conclusion that video games are responsible for young adolescents in becoming introverts due to it affecting certain brain regions that include the speech and social sections.

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