I bet all our readers who click on the “Research Suggests…” and the “New Studies Reveal…” articles are probably tired of all the contradictory claims about how video games will affect you, how they improve you, how they de-evolve you and what video games will do to you, short of causing internal combustion. Well, a new study suggests that children playing too much interactive entertainment in front of a screen can lead to underdevelopment in the brain, increasing response timing and hand-eye coordination while dampening things like learning curves, behavior and emotional development.

According to an article in the Telegraph, Baroness Greenfield, the former director of the Royal Institution has said that children playing too many video games in front of a screen all day will “blow the mind”, so says the Baroness, and that there are dire implications for spending too much time playing games instead putting your “feet in the grass” and giving out free “hugs”. I’m not even joking…really.

In fact, the Baroness stated that…
"If you play computer games to the exclusion of other things this will create a new environment that will have new effects ... every hour you spend in front of a screen is an hour not spent climbing a tree or giving someone a hug."… "Screen technologies cause high arousal, which in turn activates the brain system’s underlying addiction and reward, resulting in the attraction of yet more screen-based activity”

Well it’s true. I admit that sniping a guy from 300 yards out with a little a blood busting out of his head and an announcer saying “HEADSHOT!” is somewhat satisfying and I would be hard pressed to say that I wouldn’t put in a few extra minutes *cough*hours*cough* to replicate the experience. But I digress.

Anyway, a decade ago Japanese scientists actually came to the same conclusion as the Baroness, stating that brain regions responsible for reacting and movement will become increased but other vital areas such as behavior, emotional reactions and learning could be at risk. This definitely trumps the recent study showing that hardcore action gamers show a lot more cognitive initiative than non-gamers. I mean, what good is it having some high cognitive functions when you’re basically brain-dead when it comes to anything non-gaming related?

However, it’s not all bad news and right-wing brown-nosing when it comes to studies about video games and behavior. Other scientists garnered results showing that video games can help both young and older gamers with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as boosting intelligence and memory.

You can check out the entire article over at the Telegraph. And try not to stare at the screen for too long, heck you might lose some emotional mojo in the process.

Photo courtesy of Scanners (1981)

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