The technological progress over the last few decades has been amazing and video games have been no exception. Like many other technologies, video games have not only become more advanced but also cheaper. Now we player video games on our smart phones that have greater capabilities and better graphics as compared to those available on specialized gaming consoles such as Nintendo and Sega just few decades ago. While video games have historically enjoyed mostly negative perceptions, things have been changing now. Experiences accumulated over time as well as a number of research studies have improved our understanding of the implications of video games. We now know that just as there are costs of playing video games, there are benefits, too.

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One of the benefits of playing video games is that it may improve the players’ visual skills. It may be due to the fact that video games often require absolute attention to details from the players. U.S. insurer Allstate sees such a great potential in video games that the company has been investigating games that may help older drivers improve visual skills (Sandstorm).

Video games may also help individuals improve their mental prowess. They help players improve reasoning, problem-solving, and multitasking skills (Utah Valley Pediatrics). Researchers at Iowa State University found that playing video games at least three hours a week results in 27 percent faster brain functionality. The improved speed is also accompanied by improved performance as avid gamers make 37 percent fewer errors at tasks involving brain power as compared to those who don’t play video games (Sandstorm).

One of the benefits of video games is stress relief. Video games are a form of entertainment and may help players relieve stress accumulated from other activities (Roth). It also makes sense because people usually play video games for fun and often with friends and/or family members which may help them momentarily forget other worries of everyday life.

One of the major costs of playing video games is precious waste of valuable time resources which also seems to be one of the oldest complaints associated with the rise of video gaming culture. New York University’s (NYU) Child Study Center gives a commonsense advice to parents that they should limit the time their children play video games otherwise it may interfere with their academic obligations (Roth). It is reasonable to argue that video gaming addiction is real.
Another potential cost of video games is that it may promote aggressive behaviors among children, particularly boys. A study by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation claimed children learn positive and negative behaviors depicted in the media including video games. NYU Child Study Center found that video games may produce desensitized attitude towards violence among children (Roth).

Video games can be addictive and, thus, may negatively hurt one’s social life. A study at Iowa State University found that 3 percent of girls and 12 percent of boys who play video games become addicted to it. In addition to hurting social life, addiction may also impose other costs on players such as lack of sleep, poor academic performance, and obesity (Utah Valley Pediatrics).

It is clear that video games may have both benefits and costs. Playing video games may improve cognitive skills and visual skills and provide relief from stress, even if temporarily. The potential costs of playing video games include valuable waste of precious resources such as time, undesirable behaviors such as aggression among children, and addiction whose potential side effects include lack of sleep, poor academic performance, and obesity. The key is moderation as is the case with most other technologies because even the most beneficial technology may impose huge costs if used irresponsibly.

    References
  • Roth, Erica. The Pros and Cons of Exposing Children to Electronic Games. 14 January 2014. 20 November 2014 .
  • Sandstorm, Helen. The Pros and Cons of Playing Computer Video games. 8 September 2010. 20 November 2014 .
  • Utah Valley Pediatrics. Video Games: Pros and Cons. 8 February 2012. 20 November 2014 .