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12 Ways Playing Video Games Makes Your Life Healthier

12 Ways Playing Video Games Makes Your Life Healthier

It is not all bad news. Video games are not always violent, mindless, and addictive. Actually, there is lots of good news about the health benefits of playing video games, provided you do a few other things in between! There is a now a lot of research available which shows there are many benefits.

1. They teach you about social relationships

Some video games actually depend on social interaction. One of the best things about the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) is the way they encourage friendship and relationships worldwide. The more players engage in social interaction, the more enjoyable they become. These MMORPGs are extremely social games.

MMORPG

    2. They can help relieve physical pain

    Distraction is a great pain management technique. The University of Washington took this a step further and developed a virtual reality game to help patients suffering from agonizing pain. This game is called ‘Snow World’. In this video game, the patients throw tons of snowballs at snowmen and penguins. This serves to overwhelm the senses and divert the patient’s attention away from all those excruciating pain signals. The military found that this worked better than morphine in treating soldiers with mind-numbing pain. It also worked very well with those suffering from severe burns.

    3. They may help with vision problems

    Imagine telling a person with a cataract to play more video games! This is just what Daphne Maurer, a developmental psychologist, actually set out to prove in one experiment. She chose Medal of Honor and other first person shooter games to try this out. Her results showed that after 40 hours training, the patients were showing improvement in spatial contrast sensitivity, sharpness in vision, and also motion sensitivity. Obviously, more experiments will need to be done to establish whether this can be helpful across a range of eyesight defects.

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      4. They may help kids with chronic illnesses

      Children suffering from autism and depression were able to gain some benefit from playing video games. This was the result of a study carried out at the University of Utah. Researchers are confident that video games can also be used for therapeutic purposes and not just for entertainment. Combining these two functions could be a great way to help patients with mental disorders, weight issues, cancer and other serious diseases.

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        5. They help motivation

        By their very nature, video games are always up for rewarding points and prizes for effort and success. There is no doubt that these games can help increase motivation because they balance the difficulty of the challenge with success and rewards. Nothing better than that for increasing motivation, although real life tends to be slower and more tricky!

        6. They can help with controlling emotions

        A similar game to Space Invaders (RAGE Control – Regulate and Gain Emotional Control) was used by the Children’s Hospital in Boston to help kids control their anger. The patients were all in the unit which helps children who have anger issues. The game lets them play but when they become too emotional and angry, their ability to shoot is impaired and they start to lose points.

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          7. They may help you to be more socially aware

          Being more socially aware makes you want to help others. Can video games really help here? Results from studies suggest that this is actually the case. One study done in Japan and the USA revealed that the non-violent games were more likely to instil feelings of helpful behavior towards the less fortunate members of society. It is a controversial issue as other studies show that children after video gaming become overly aggressive towards vulnerable citizens.

          8. They can help you be a better parent

          Now, what counts as quality time with your kids? Playing with your kids, of course. That can range from sports, watching movies or going out together. But it also includes playing video games with them. Here are some ideas to make the most of this quality time together.

          Of course, you have your smartphone switched off, right? This is so important because your child will quickly realize whether this is really quality time and if you are actually playing the game with them, rather than being a bored observer.

          Talking about the game as you play with them is really useful, too. Ask them to explain their strategy and why the enemy is so difficult to beat. It is a great way of getting kids to plan, try out something, and re-evaluate in the case of defeat.

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            9. They can help kids be creative

            My favorite one here is Toontastic. Kids can simply animate their own cartoon characters by learning how to draw them, tell their stories and choose the right music to go with them. They can also share their stories with other children round the world so it is a great way of learning about other cultures. It also is one of the best games for encouraging children to be creative.

            10. Video games help children develop

            One study by Dr. Andrew Przybylski, in the Pediatrics journal, reports the results of a project which followed 5,000 youngsters between 10 and 15 years. The study showed that a maximum of one hour a day on video games helped children to be well-adjusted and happy with their lives. They were less hyperactive and more disposed to be socially interactive. Those children who were spending more than three hours on video gaming were less happy and dissatisfied with their lives.

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              11. Video games may help elderly citizens with memory

              Fancy a game of NeuroRacer? All you have to do is swerve around cars while identifying road signs. Sounds pretty mindless. But guess what? A group of elderly adults between the ages of 60 to 85 were asked to play this game for about 3 hours a week. After six months, the older ones were doing better than before on memory tests, multitasking and attention span.

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              12. They may help surgeons perform better operations

              Ask your surgeon before you fall asleep if s/he has played any Wii Tennis or the High Altitude Battle game recently! No, it is not one of those ridiculous questions before you drift off under the effects of the anaesthetic. If the surgeon nods yes, there is a good chance that her eye-hand coordination is in top form and you are in safe hands (no pun intended!).

              As we have seen, video games can be really helpful when we choose the right ones and if we promise not to get addicted. Must dash as I have to play another game on Wii Tennis!

              Featured photo credit: The Art of Video Games/ Ryan Quick via flickr.com

              More by this author

              Robert Locke

              Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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              Last Updated on March 13, 2019

              How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

              How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

              Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

              You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

              Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

              1. Work on the small tasks.

              When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

              Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

              2. Take a break from your work desk.

              Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

              Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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              3. Upgrade yourself

              Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

              The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

              4. Talk to a friend.

              Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

              Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

              5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

              If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

              Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

              Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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              6. Paint a vision to work towards.

              If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

              Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

              Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

              7. Read a book (or blog).

              The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

              Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

              Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

              8. Have a quick nap.

              If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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              9. Remember why you are doing this.

              Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

              What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

              10. Find some competition.

              Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

              Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

              11. Go exercise.

              Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

              Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

              As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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              Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

              12. Take a good break.

              Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

              Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

              Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

              Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

              More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

              Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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