For many, many years violent video games (meaning most of the video games) were attacked from all sides in an attempt to prove that playing them will make you more aggressive, more stressed and less disturbed when watching and/or participating in the acts of real-world violence. But most of that heat is wearing off in the last couple of years because scientist slowly finds new, positive psychological and physiological effects of playing video games.
In this article, we will show you a couple of studies that have proven that playing video games will not transform you into a psychopath who enjoys hurting and killing people.
First of all, let’s talk about the effect of video games exposure that is most talked about: increased level of aggression. When you think about it, it seems logical that killing bunch of people in virtual worlds will make you more aggressive over time, and that the end result will be higher resilience to real-world acts of violence meaning that you will have higher chance to participate in violent acts and also be more aggressive when participating in them.
That’s a legacy from past times when war veterans showed exactly the same symptoms coming back from the front. Many of them also had the symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which made them harder to be reintegrated back into the society. So, following that logic scientist believed that the same symptoms will be present in the people that play violent video games on a regular basis. Many studies had been made and almost none of them had the results that supported that claims.
Today it is a common knowledge that other variables, such as personality traits that are connected to aggressive behavior and social environment in which children grow up (family, and friend groups for example), have much bigger effect on behavior than video games. It is found out that most people can separate virtual and real world violence without a problem, and that video games can affect you in a negative way only if you already have symptoms of some psychological disorder or disease.
For example, this study tries to prove that delinquent and bullying behavior can be much more accurately predicted by the children’s aggression personality trait and by stress level than by exposure to violent video games. In other words video games can even be used to lower the aggression and stress levels with children because playing them allows you to blow off steam that you have gathered during the day and to make you relaxed and less aggressive. And what about the effects that video games have on your stress level? This study shows that playing casual video games can improve your mood and decrease your stress level and that playing video games can be an alternative treatment of stress-related disorders.
If you ask me (and I’m a psychologist) this is much better than taking various medications which have many side effects influencing your emotions and behavior in a way that’s not normal and healthy. Another study discovered that playing video games can be an excellent way to recover from work-related stress and fatigue, especially with the people who receive less social support.
So, when you come home from school or work feel free to play four favorite games because they will help you in more ways than you think. And be proud for being a gamer because us gamers have the best way to deal with stress and other stuff that can make us more susceptible to depression, emotional problems and psychological disorders.
Written by Goran Damnjanovic, follow him on Facebook.