The first computer console I ever played was a PlayStation (PS3). It changed my life in good ways and bad. I was ten years old and it felt like I’d entered into a new life.
Even though I was young, my parents still bought me games that should only be played by over 18s. I don’t think they really understood how it could affect me at such a young age.
When I started playing the PS3 I felt adrenaline pumping around my body. It felt like I was alive. For a long period of time before this I was bored and lacked entertainment. When playing on the PS3 I never felt alone because I was always connected to my friends and people all around the world.
When I became a teenager I upgraded to a PS4. It’s then I began to notice the disadvantages. I would stay up until around 3am nearly every day and I was disconnected from the outside world. I had a reality check when this started to affect my grades at school. I noticed how badly I was failing and could only blame the PS4.
However, there are positive sides to gaming. I noticed an increase in my reaction time in the real world when I played sports like basketball and football. I think that the PlayStation also helped me with anxiety at home; it was my escape because my parents were very strict and I was scared of them.
Research has shown that gaming can improve brain functions, eg. quicker reaction time and an increase in multitasking ability. It also suggests that gaming can increase reading skills, maths and problem solving.
Dr Brian Glass from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said: “Previous research has demonstrated that action video games, such as Halo, can speed up decision making but the current work finds that real-time strategy games can promote our ability to think on the fly and learn from past mistakes.”
Tel Aviv University in Israel explored how video games can help stroke victims. They can often go through a long and difficult recovery process. The university conducted a study to explore whether playing games was an affordable and effective approach to restoring speech and movement.
People who’d had a stroke in recent years were split into two groups. One set did traditional rehabilitation exercises, while the others played video games on Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii. The study found that the advantages of using video games for rehabilitation were amazing.
While both groups showed improvement in things like grip, only the video game group continued to show improvement in hand strength.
The study found that, because video games are enjoyable, people are more likely to fully commit to this form of rehabilitation.
Despite the many positive aspects of gaming, a big negative is that players can become violent and aggressive. I don’t personally feel aggressive after playing games because I’m at an age where I feel I can control it.
People who are younger may not be able to do the same. Studies have shown that gaming can cause some people to react the same way in reality as they would in a game.
Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is played all around the world by children as young as four, even though the minimum age requirement 18. But some people ignore this because of how popular the game is. GTA is similar to the real world. It has great graphics, which make it realistic, and the violence is believable.
A study by scientists, from Dartmouth College in the US found that GTA players are more likely to drink, smoke and have unprotected sex.
I have come to realise that gaming has more disadvantages than advantages. It can ruin your life. It can make you stay at home without exploring the outside world. It can sometimes damage your eyes or even your brain. For me it felt like a drug. I was so addicted.
Now that I’ve stopped playing as regularly as before my grades have improved.
It’s important to live your own life instead of living life through a game.
If you want to learn more about video game addiction, visit: www.videogameaddiction.co.uk