Fans of gaming won’t be surprised by research reported this month from Flinders University that long periods of video gaming should be avoided by teenagers if they want a decent night’s sleep. The latest research is just another thorn in the side of video gaming which as an activity has suffered much criticism over the years.
This most recent study was carried out at the University’s Sleep Laboratory by Daniel King, a master’s student, and found that gaming prior to bed gave male teenagers problems getting to sleep. The 17 individuals that took part were required to play new games that were fast paced and violent for timescales of 50 or 150 minutes. They were then monitored at the University’s Sleep Lab with heart and sleeping testing equipment.
Child sleep psychologist Dr Michael Gradisar from Flinders who was the supervisor of the study surmised that there was a total sleep loss of 27 minutes after the longer timescale of play (150 minutes) with a sleep delay of up to 39 minutes according to information from the actual participants.
Dr Gradisar said: “While they went to bed at their regular bedtime, the adolescents’ still experienced significant sleep disruptions caused by frequent awakenings throughout the night.”
Sleep study not gaming study
Rather than proving the negative issues associated with gaming though this study was markedly different in that its actual aim was to look at the worst activities to indulge in before going to bed. Much like we’re told not to watch too much television before bed the study has found that too much gaming could be detrimental but that smaller doses would be ok, as those that played for the 50 minutes timescale suffered no adverse effects in getting to sleep and were in fact quite normal in their sleep patterns.
The usefulness of gaming
Whilst it seems unlikely that gaming will replace more traditional methods of getting to sleep like ‘counting sheep’ the health benefits of gaming in modern society can no longer be denied as countless studies are now available to break the stereotype that gaming affects people’s social and mental states.
In fact gaming is now proven to be good for eyesight, dexterity, social skills and even fitness. Furthermore people who are gamers have been proven to have better mental agility as they can make decision 25% faster than other people with compromising the accuracy of the objective at hand. Add to that that experienced gamers can give their attention to six things at once without losing focus, which is 2 more than non gamers. All this from independent studies carried out by the University of Rochester in New York.
Female gamers who now account for up to 42% of the gaming population are also able to ‘mentally manipulate’ 3D objects as a result of playing video games, something previously believed to be a skill more attributed to males.
Acknowledged in popular culture
So far from be outlawed gaming is now not so much seen as detrimental to one’s health as it is widely accepted that it has a role to play in popular culture just as reading, blogging, tweeting and watching television also have.
Computational analyst Joshua Lewis from the University of California in San Diego has said:
“There has been a lot of attention wasted in figuring out whether these things turn us into killing machines. Not enough attention has been paid to the unique and interesting features that videogames have outside of the violence.”
A creative generation
In November last year results of a 3 year study were released by researchers from Michigan University. The study involved 491 students both male and female and found that the higher level of gaming activity the better creativity the children had. The results were scored on a test called the Torrance Test of Creativity and they were higher despite the child’s race, gender or the type of game that was played. Only video gaming gave these results as comparative play with phones or using the internet gave no effect of creativity.
So in summary gaming is good for you and there is much evidence out there to prove this – and as a result both budding gamers and experienced stalwarts can be sure that they are in fact developing skills and expertise that will shape the future of gaming and gaming technology.