Children can heave a sigh of relief this vacation. Parents can no longer complain about the action packed video games children play almost the entire day during holidays. Research has shown that games full of action and adventure, give a fillip to the visual attention capacity of the brain. Dr Daphne Bavelier from the University of Rochester, led this research that uncovered the benefits of action packed computer games that children love.
Secretly most parents admire their child’s ability to score high on such games where they have to keep their eyes firmly on the target yet be aware enemies popping up from the sidelines. Since the benefits are not visible immediately parents feel that the child is wasting time. “Visual attention is crucial to preventing sensory overload, since the brain is constantly faced with an overwhelming amount of visual information,” explains Bjorn Hubert-Wallander, the paper’s lead author. “It’s an ability that is especially emphasized during visually demanding activities such as driving a car or searching for a friend's face in a crowd, so it is not surprising that scientists have long been interested in ways to modify, extend, and enhance the different facets of visual attention.”
According to the study, video games prompt the human brains to pick up the relevant information from among a heap of irrelevant visual communication data. This helps improve the ability to succeed in visually demanding activities like driving, military operations etc. “Just as drivers have to focus on the road, other cars, and potential obstacles while ignoring other information, modern action games place heavy attentional demands on players,” said Hubert-Wallander. “These games require players to aim and shoot accurately in the center of the screen while continuously tracking other enemies and fast moving objects.” In other words, your child’s central vision, as well as, the peripheral vision is performing at peak capacity when the child is playing the game.
The study points out that only the fast paced, action packed video games that demand more attention from the player improves visual attention. According to Shawn Green a research team member, these action video game-induced improvements appears to be a remarkable enhancement in the ability to flexibly and precisely control attention, a finding that could have a variety of real-world applications. “For example, those in professions that demand ‘super-normal’ visual attention, such as fighter pilots, would benefit enormously from enhanced visual attention, as their performance and lives depend on their ability to react quickly and accurately to primarily visual information,” concludes Green.
Educators and parents can henceforth look at computer games in new light and leverage the benefits to help children with short attention span.
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