Gaming changing men’s brains
Leading American Psychologist Philip Zimbardo recently discussed how men are getting left behind. For the first time in history young men are less educated than their fathers. The American Paediatric Society's 2013 study found that teenagers spend more time engrossed in media than they do in school and that time on the Internet was even higher than that spent sleeping.
Often the small doses of information that are fed with tweets, texts, snapchats etc are "sips" of communication and don't ever equate to a "gulp" of conversation. We learn how to have an effective, productive and meaningful inner dialogue through real conversations with others. These short spurts of dialogue limit our own ability to have deep thinking and self-reflection. Our brains are becoming used to short spurts of information where our attention is a constant shift. Zimbardo posits that we are unable to experience profound forms of emotions, including empathy and compassion.
We know that men are starting to play video games at a young age and are spending more hours gaming than they are face-to-face. According to reality game designer Jane McGonigal, a young person can spend up to 10000 hours gaming by the time they reach 21. Putting this figure into context, a University Bachelors Degree is less than half that time at 4800 hours. (1)
Violent Video Games and their effect on behaviour
Objective Video game violence has become a highly politicized issue for scientists and the general public. There is continuing concern that playing violent video games may increase the risk of aggression in players. Less often discussed is the possibility that playing violent video games may promote certain positive developments, particularly related to visuospatial cognition. The objective of the current article was to conduct a meta-analytic review of studies that examine the impact of violent video games on both aggressive behavior and visuospatial cognition in order to understand the full impact of such games. Methods A detailed literature search was used to identify peer-reviewed articles addressing violent video game effects. Effect sizes r (a common measure of effect size based on the correlational coefficient) were calculated for all included studies. Effect sizes were adjusted for observed publication bias. Results Results indicated that publication bias was a problem for studies of both aggressive behavior and visuospatial cognition. Once corrected for publication bias, studies of video game violence provided no support for the hypothesis that violent video game playing is associated with higher aggression. However playing violent video games remained related to higher visuospatial cognition (rx = 0.36). Conclusions Results from the current analysis did not support the conclusion that violent video game playing leads to aggressive behavior. However, violent video game playing was associated with higher visuospatial cognition. It may be advisable to reframe the violent video game debate in reference to potential costs and benefits of this medium.