I want to play videogames when I grow up (and so should you)

Just like rock music in the 1950s, Dungeons & Dragons in the 1980s, and death metal in the 1990s, videogaming has been demonised by parent groups. For decades, gamers were portrayed as obese social outcasts that spent hours in a dark basement hunched over a flashing screen, slowly becoming more aggressive and distanced from reality.

Today, that stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. The average gamer is as likely to be a university professor or a corporate banker as they are to be a high school or college student.

Furthermore, a growing body of research is showing a whole host of health benefits associated with gaming. The most recent piece of research shows an improvement in vision in those who suffer from congenital cataract disorders.

But it wasn’t always this way. Early studies were quick to demonstrate the negative consequences of gaming, linking time spent in front of a console or PC with:

In fact, videogame-related literature in the mid-2000s paints a bleak, violent and anti-social picture of gamers. With the help of the media, videogames quickly became the scapegoat for everything that was going wrong with kids.

But the vast majority of early studies only showed associations between gaming and adolescent decline, providing no evidence that videogames were the actual cause.

More recently, studies have shown no difference in aggression or depression levels between gamers and non-gamers. Similarly, researchers have shown that violent games increased frustration in players because of their difficulty rather than aggression because of their violence.

Moreover, when researchers tested young gamers before and after they entered their teens, the strongest predictors of increased aggression were increased exposure to family violence and peer influences.

All of a sudden, the link between videogames and real-world violence isn’t so clear. This isn’t to say that videogames have no negative effects, just that they aren’t the root of the problem.

Researchers have shown that, unlike the moderate use of alcohol, cigarettes and coffee (which have proven detrimental effects) gaming has a raft of positive effects.

As touched on earlier, a recent study shows that patients with a rare cataract disorder improved their vision by playing a first-person shooter for about two hours a day, for a month. This improvement led to an increased ability to recognise faces, see small print and allowed them to read two lines lower on an eye chart.

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