Why More Older Adults Are Playing Video Games
Despite the stereotype of teenage boys playing video games, many older adults are gaming and enjoying it. It can even help improve their physical functioning!
Studies have found that the best games for seniors are those that require slow reaction times and precision movements. Also, games that are new and unfamiliar provide the most cognitive improvements as they encourage your brain to form new pathways.
They Enhance Mental Acuity
Video games provide many benefits to a person’s mental health, and they can help relieve stress, improve mood and increase social interaction. When played in moderation, they can also enhance cognitive growth.
Studies have shown that playing video games can improve visual acuity, attention and spatial reasoning. Some of these improvements can be seen in the brain’s visual cortex. In addition, the cerebellum grows in size when people play games that require fast reactions and good memory recall.
Researchers have also found that playing some video games can mitigate certain eye disorders. For example, some video games can improve the condition known as amblyopia, in which one eye has poor vision due to disrupted neuronal circuits. Other video games can even help ameliorate dyslexia symptoms in some individuals.
Playing competitive and cooperative video games can boost the sense of accomplishment, which can also promote a positive mood. Furthermore, multiplayer games encourage players to interact with a worldwide community of gamers and develop strong relationships through working together to overcome obstacles.
They Provide a Sense of Community
When non-gamers think of gamers, they typically imagine teenagers slouched in front of a screen with frenetic fingers pressing buttons on controllers. The reality is that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, and the games available are just as varied.
Some games are purely entertainment, like word puzzles and candy crush, while others require the player to remain focused on tasks with time limits and other challenges. Games that force the player to switch quickly between different tasks also promote mental flexibility and multi-tasking skills, which are helpful in aging adults.
Unlike other activities, video games offer the chance to interact with other players, which helps to create a sense of community. This sense of community is important for seniors, especially those who live alone or experience loneliness. Having a group of friends to interact with online or in person provides a vital connection and a feeling of support that may help combat depression.
They Reduce Stress
Video games allow players to escape their real-life stresses by creating exciting scenarios that they can focus on. However, the stress-reducing effects of video games can only be realized if gaming is balanced with physical and mental wellbeing, like eating a healthy meal or doing some back and arm stretches for gamers.
Moreover, gaming provides a sense of achievement by allowing players to win rounds or overcome challenges. This results in the release of dopamine, which boosts self-esteem and reduces stress levels. Nevertheless, playing video games can increase the risk of developing an addiction to them, especially among older adults.
Moreover, if gamers play highly engaging video games, such as first-person shooters or horror games, they may experience more stress than those who enjoy twee worlds like Animal Crossing or Sushi Cat. This is because playing highly engaging games requires a lot of attention and engagement, which can lead to increased stress levels. The calming effects of video games, therefore, only apply if they are played for a reasonable duration.
They Help Improve Memory
Many video games require serious concentration and focus. Whether you’re building civilizations in Minecraft or fighting for your life in Fortnite, you’re constantly focused on where you are and what you need to do next. Video game environments are packed with stimuli thanks to 3D graphics and immersive audio. Exploring them can help improve your memory in real-life situations, too.
When you play a game that requires you to juggle multiple goals and tasks, it stimulates the part of your brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for converting short-term memories into long-term ones. By keeping this area of the brain in shape, you can better remember things like directions and locations.
However, it’s important to note that not all games have the same positive effects on your memory. Brain-training games, which are designed specifically to enhance cognitive skills, may have more limited benefits. These games can improve your reaction time and visuomotor skills, but they don’t always improve spatial visualization and hand-eye coordination.