It turns out that all that time you spent playing online games may not have been a waste after all. Several studies show how gaming improves your reaction time, teaches you to multitask, sharpens your memory and retention skills, and refines your fine motor skills. Take a closer look at what scientists have discovered about today’s “Think Fast” generation of gamers.
Gaming Improves Reaction Times
Image via Flickr by Dion Hichcliffe
According to a study at the University of Toronto, video games increase visual searching skills and reaction times. The study observed teens playing first-person shooter games and then rated on how well they did searching for hidden targets. Teens who were heavy gamers had better reaction times, and this translated to cat-like reflexes in activities outside of the gaming world, too. Essentially, gamers were able to think and make decisions faster than others.
Gaming Teaches People to Multitask
Some online games are very involved. You have to keep track of objects you’ve collected, navigate a map, manage money, complete missions, and more. This means that people learn how to multitask by playing these video games and using other forms of technology. This makes gamers more efficient in other areas of life because of their multitasking skills. For instance, they can watch TV and do homework at the same time.
Larry Rossen, a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, conducted a study by tracking all the activities students did while studying. They included things like checking Facebook, sending text messages, talking on the phone, surfing the Internet, watching TV, listening to music, and more. The study found that students only spent 65 percent, on average, actually studying. However, their multitasking skills allowed them to keep going back to their school work instead of becoming completely distracted.
Gaming Sharpens Memory
According to a study endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, playing video games helps senior citizens delay Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia because it makes them exercise their brain muscles more. Lifetime gamers showed lower amounts of “amyloid protein” on their brain, the substance supposedly responsible for the dementia. So, the more you play online games in your life, the less likely you are to get a form of dementia.
Gaming Refines Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are your ability to make small movements with your hands, as well as your hand-eye coordination. Gaming refines your fine motor skills because you have to quickly move your fingers and hands in reaction to games.
When you think of a “gamer,” you typically think about a boy in his teens to late 20s playing p RPGs and multiplayer war games. However, online gaming is so much more — there is something for everyone, including kids and senior citizens. For instance, the amount of game variety increases the options that cater to a wide audience. This means you can play games and improve your fine motor skills, no matter what age you are.
Of course, there are more cases of carpal tunnel in the gaming population than in any previous generations. Repetitive motions improve fine motor skills, but they can cause other problems if done excessively.
As you can see, there are definitely advantages to being a gamer. Today’s “Think Fast” generation can have fun and learn life skills at the same time.