Computer games stunt teen brains

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Computer games stunt teen brains

Postby tamarind » Thu May 07, 2009 12:33 pm

Computer games stunt teen brains

Hi-tech maps of the mind show that computer games are damaging brain development and could lead to children being unable to control violent behaviour

* Tracy McVeigh, education editor
* The Observer, Sunday 19 August 2001

Computer games are creating a dumbed-down generation of children far more disposed to violence than their parents, according to a controversial new study.

The tendency to lose control is not due to children absorbing the aggression involved in the computer game itself, as previous researchers have suggested, but rather to the damage done by stunting the developing mind.

Using the most sophisticated technology available, the level of brain activity was measured in hundreds of teenagers playing a Nintendo game and compared to the brain scans of other students doing a simple, repetitive arithmetical exercise. To the surprise of brain-mapping expert Professor Ryuta Kawashima and his team at Tohoku University in Japan, it was found that the computer game only stimulated activity in the parts of the brain associated with vision and movement.

In contrast, arithmetic stimulated brain activity in both the left and right hemispheres of the frontal lobe - the area of the brain most associated with learning, memory and emotion.

Most worrying of all was that the frontal lobe, which continues to develop in humans until the age of about 20, also has an important role to play in keeping an individual's behaviour in check.

Whenever you use self-control to refrain from lashing out or doing something you should not, the frontal lobe is hard at work.

Children often do things they shouldn't because their frontal lobes are underdeveloped. The more work done to thicken the fibres connecting the neurons in this part of the brain, the better the child's ability will be to control their behaviour. The more this area is stimulated, the more these fibres will thicken.

The students who played computer games were halting the process of brain development and affecting their ability to control potentially anti-social elements of their behaviour.

'The importance of this discovery cannot be underestimated,' Kawashima told The Observer .

'There is a problem we will have with a new generation of children - who play computer games - that we have never seen before.

'The implications are very serious for an increasingly violent society and these students will be doing more and more bad things if they are playing games and not doing other things like reading aloud or learning arithmetic.'

Kawashima, in need of funding for his research, originally decided to investigate the levels of brain activity in children playing video games expecting to find that his research would be a boon to manufacturers.

He expected it to reassure parents that there are hidden benefits to the increasing number of hours their children were devoting to computer games and was startled by what he discovered.

He compared brain activity in children playing Nintendo games with those doing an exercise called the Kraepelin test, which involves adding single-digit numbers continuously for 30 minutes.

The students were given minute doses of a radioactive pharmaceutical through an intravenous drip which allowed a computer to map a complex picture of their brains at work. A subsequent study was conducted using magnetic resonance images.

Both studies confirmed the high level of brain activity involved in carrying out simple addition and subtraction and that this activity was particularly pronounced in the frontal lobe, in both the left and right hemispheres.

Though it is often thought that only the left hemisphere is active for mathematical work and that the right hemi sphere is stimulated by more creative thinking, the professor found that arithmetic produced a high level of activity in both hemispheres.

In subsequent studies, Kawashima established that arithmetic exercises also stimulate more brain activity than listening to music or listening to reading. Reading out loud was also found to be a very effective activity for activating the frontal lobe.

Kawashima, visiting the UK to speak at this weekend's annual conference of the private learning programme Kumon Educational UK, said the message to parents was clear.

'Children need to be encouraged to learn basic reading and writing, of course,' he said. 'But the other thing is to ask them to play outside with other children and interact and to communicate with others as much as possible. This is how they will develop, retain their creativity and become good people.'

tamarind
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Postby tamarind » Thu May 07, 2009 12:37 pm

I am personally a victim of computer games. I was addicted to computer games when I was in university. I am quite certain that I am not as clever as I should have been :oops: Playing too much computer games made my brain "lazy", I am simply too lazy to think about complicated things :oops:

I also saw many of my young adult students being affected by the addiction to computer games. Parents should restrict computer games before it is too late.

From the above article :
Reading out loud was also found to be a very effective activity for activating the frontal lobe.


Parents should let your kids read out loud everyday :wink:

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Postby smurf » Thu May 07, 2009 2:37 pm

How about handheld game such as Nintendo or PS2??

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Postby sashimi » Thu May 07, 2009 4:30 pm

I think out of every 10 reports on the detrimental effects of computer games on children, there are at least 3 which say they are good.

Personally I still think it's about moderation - but then again that seems to be in short supply these days. What the 2000-dated article tamarind posted did not realize is that the PSP was about to be invented (2004/2005).

Personally I have huge reservations about youth (and adults) who have earplugs plugged in the whole day, let alone PSPs. I can't see how it can be good for them, esp. when crossing busy roads.

Having said that, I learnt computer programming on an Apple II back in 1982. My father scolded me for playing games. But I still have fond memories of a 1985 game called Ultima IV, which actually had a strong moral spine - it had a world which was governed by 8 virtues - truth, love, courage, which combined to produce 4 other virtues: justice, sacrifice, honour, spirituality, and the 8th was independent of all: humility.

I don't know exactly why, but I took these rather seriously, all 12 years of me. Today, I still appreciate what the game taught me about these moral principles, and yes I do my best to live life by them.

I.e. it was like a good book.

Problem is, today many games are all about kill kill kill, and much worse.

Some games do not engage the player's intellect.

But worse, there are games where gamers refuse to engage with it intellectually. In fact, when I participate in forums on the few games that I have played over the last few years, I found that many people (I assume youth going by the way they talk) are impatient, and very power-driven, goal-driven; they have little interest in strategic principles of gaming, nor complex combinations (eg. developing character skill sets and combinations).

They get immediately frustrated when they cannot get to their goal, and make no effort to understand why they fail (eg. why their character keeps getting killed). They are very one-track-minded, focussing on offensive capabilities of their character, and have no interest in balancing with defenses or strategic play-styles.

I.e. very short-sighted, very impatient, very stupid.

It is quite disturbing.

However I think whether games stunt a child's mind is dependent on the child - if the child chooses to engage the game intellectually, exercising strategy, I think games are a good platform for brain exercise.

If a child becomes obssessed with kill-kill-kill, then yes this child will grow up maladjusted, because the more he gets to play games in this short-sighted manner, the more he becomes short-sighted in life.

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Postby metz » Thu May 07, 2009 4:39 pm

sashimi wrote: But I still have fond memories of a 1985 game called Ultima IV, which actually had a strong moral spine - it had a world which was governed by 8 virtues - truth, love, courage, which combined to produce 4 other virtues: justice, sacrifice, honour, spirituality, and the 8th was independent of all: humility.



Hi Sashimi

I love that game and was totally hooked on it! Any idea if it's still around?
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Postby sashimi » Thu May 14, 2009 10:47 am

Hi sorry for the late reply! :)

Yes it's available on the internet - you can google for it. :) In fact, there have been several attempts to remake it with modern software too.

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Postby tamarind » Sun May 17, 2009 10:49 pm

smurf wrote:How about handheld game such as Nintendo or PS2??


smurf,
Handheld games are worst because they allow the kids to play it anytime anywhere, in MRT, on buses, even when they are walking outside ! Children should spend their time exploring the world, not fix their eyes on a small little box.

Sashimi,
Kids are naturally drawn to games which do not require them to think intellectually, that means it is easy and fun.

I used to spend many hours playing Reversi on the computer, my opponent is the computer program. I can beat the computer at the highest level. But it has not made me any smarter. I was still beaten by a human who is a true expert. Computer programs still cannot be compared to a real human mind. I know that because I developed complicated software programs for more than 15 years. The human mind is unpredictable and creative, something that computers still cannot emulate. It is still best to interact with real human beings in the real world.

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handheld games

Postby acforfamily » Mon May 18, 2009 8:41 am

tamarind wrote:
smurf wrote:How about handheld game such as Nintendo or PS2??


Children should spend their time exploring the world, not fix their eyes on a small little box.


The eye doc I went to chided me for letting kid play handheld - too close to the eyes, even went on to educate me about an advertisement from Health Ministry which shows a picture with a handheld and a big 'BANNED" word across it.

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Postby smurf » Mon May 18, 2009 9:29 am

Hi Tamarind,

I've silently kept the Nintendo away from my boy! he did ask me now and then where is his nintendo. I told him he brought to the sch and teacher confiticated it.(he is quite forgetful and likes to bring things to sch) hee. :wink:

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Postby ChiefKiasu » Mon May 18, 2009 9:42 am

smurf wrote:Hi Tamarind,

I've silently kept the Nintendo away from my boy! he did ask me now and then where is his nintendo. I told him he brought to the sch and teacher confiticated it.(he is quite forgetful and likes to bring things to sch) hee. :wink:


Smurf... I feel we should never lie to our children, even if it is "for their own good". A better approach is to tell him straight that you have kept it away, because of its negative impact on him. Give him the facts.

That said, I feel that moderation is key to everything we do. Handheld games need not be bad, if they are used sparingly and under the right conditions.

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