Video games are beneficial during periods of confinement
Let’s stop worrying: video games are first and foremost a great stress-relieving activity, researchers say.
The containment situation resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic has astonishing effects. Video games and the internet, the excessive or prolonged use of which has been the subject of heated debate for the past five years, are today called to the rescue to help the mental balance of confined people, regardless of their age.
The practice of video games is linked to positive elements in at least four aspects: they facilitate self-expression, they nourish emotional well-being, they strengthen social relationships, and they improve certain cognitive functions. Studies have documented the beneficial effect that certain types of games (such as the first-person shooter) can have on spatial memory, attention and alertness. Even if research on problem gambling has established negative effects on mental health, the fact remains that in a context where exposure to games and screens is controlled, it is very useful.
As a young researcher in sleep medicine and social epidemiology, I am interested in sleep disorders and mental health of atypical populations such as people with Parkinson’s disease, people who work in the service sector to customers as well as those with problematic behaviour with video games or internet use. My colleague Yann Leroux is a doctor of psychology. He works on digital mediation and more particularly on the use of video games as a psychotherapeutic mediator.
Our work and expertise lead us to several observations.
An anti-stress tool
Video games are first and foremost, a great stress-relieving activity. Whether with a game console such as the Nintendo Wii or a smartphone, it is easy (while playing!) To forget a stressful situation such as that experienced by this confinement.
Games are therefore useful in combating anxiety in adults and preventing it from developing in children. By offering the player the possibility to modify his environment or his game character, as is the case in massively multiplayer online role-playing video games, known under the name MMORPG (for example World of Warcraft), they encourage self-expression and self-reinvention.
It has also been documented that video games contribute to the emotional well-being of the family by promoting activities that strengthen ties between members of the same community (including parents, friends and children). Often from different generations, all come together and socialize through video games.
An educational tool
Video games have been used for almost a decade for teaching subjects such as history, art or simply the alphabet or mathematics to children.Their usefulness in this area is unequivocal, and their popularity is growing among teachers. So while the planet is homebound, many parents rely on games to educate, distract and relax their children.
Whatever some may think, video games can be a good way to enforce containment and barrier gestures. It is therefore not surprising that their sales have exploded in recent weeks and that the initiative #PlayApartTogether launched by the major video game manufacturers to encourage people to have fun and practice physical distancing has received support from WHO.
A physical activity tool
In the last decade, the video game industry has widened its client base by adding to the entertainment of the youngest fun activities designed for a more mature audience. The exergames (neologism composed of the terms ” exercise ” and ” game “) designate video games combining both cognitive stimulation and physical energy expenditure, unlike traditional games which are less active and condition the player to sedentary activity.
Consoles such as Wii allow this new practice through family video games that have become popular such as Wii dance or Wii sport.
These video games contribute to the good physical and mental health of the population in general and of seniors in particular. They significantly increase energy expenditure and cardiorespiratory activity during play sessions. They thus contribute to maintaining good physical condition without the restrictive nature often associated with physical activity practised in training centres.
Since confinement limits movement and contributes to the progressive deterioration of the physical state (and even autonomy) of particular groups of the population, the elders, for example, video games are undoubtedly one of the surest to keep minimal physical activity.
Thus, despite the debates on the potential negative effects of excessive and problematic use of new technologies, it is also necessary to mention the advantages and benefits. Everyone can benefit if the apprehensions are controlled and if everyone has their own idea, for example, by playing a few times a video game!The conversation