In our modern day world, technology makes it possible to speak face-to-face with people on different continents, to access more information than all the world’s physical libraries combined contain, and to interact with virtual worlds in ways we never would’ve thought possible just 20 years ago. But as we continue to integrate technology into our daily lives, it’s becoming clearer that there are severe downsides, such as gaming addiction in teens.
Games have become vastly more intricate since the age of Pac-Man and Galaga. Instead of 8-bit graphics, games have developed into enormously complicated puzzles and adventures–but many of them have also evolved to include much more violence than ever before.
New studies show that the genre of the video game and the way the player plays could impact an individual’s brain positively or negatively, which could make gaming addiction in teens much more serious.

Different video game genres and how they affect the brain

At the University of Montreal and McGill University in Canada, researchers recently set up a some studies built to teach us more about how video games affect the brain. The results exemplify by gaming addiction in teens needs to be seen as a real threat.
They uncovered that video games tend to affect a part of the brain called the hippocampus the most. This part is known for controlling navigation, spatial learning, and memory. Using it and keeping it healthy plays a critical role in our ability to learn, think, and experience.
gaming addiction in teensIf the hippocampus is damaged or goes through deterioration, it increases an individual’s chance of developing issues such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s, and PTSD.
In the studies, they found that video games have the power to either stimulate hippocampal growth or impair it. It seemed to link to the type of game and how it was played.
In the studies, many participants went through 90 hours of training in one of three types of games:

  • Action video game (ex. Call of Duty, Battlefield)
  • 3D-platform game (ex. Super Mario 64)
  • Action-role playing game (ex. Dead Island)

The study revealed that first-person shooter games like Call of Duty reduce grey matter in the hippocampus when players use response strategies. But after training, the researchers found an increase in grey matter for individuals who used spatial strategies.
There are two types of strategies in video games: spatial or response. It seems that those who use response strategy in a virtual reality maze game (counting, memorizing, and patterning a series of actions to remember certain arrays), as opposed to spatial (learning the relationship between specific landmarks and target goals), were more negatively affected.
Healthy growth was also found in the brain of the control group that trained on 3D-platform games.
Dr. Greg West, leader of the studies, explained what this could mean:
“These results show that video games can be beneficial or detrimental to the hippocampal system depending on the navigation strategy that a person employs and the genre of the game.”
From the research, it’s clear that video games pose a greater risk when use is unmonitored. This means that gaming addiction in teens is a larger issue and could have further impacts on health than previously thought.

blueFire Wilderness is here for your family

blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program for teens. We help teens, ages 11 to 17, grappling with depression, ADHD, gaming addiction in teens, defiance, and other emotional or behavioral problems.
At blueFire, we strive to help each client find their inner confidence and succeed. We believe that through a balance of self-assessment, insight oriented therapy, outdoor living, adventure activities and academic focus these teens will find their true selves. We provide a supportive opportunity for parents and children to reconnect and strengthen their relationship.
For more information about how we treat gaming addiction in teens at blueFire Wilderness, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today.

Previous reading
A New Look: Risky Teen Behaviors May Be Curiosity Instead of Underdevelopment
Next reading
Program for Defiant Teens: Why It May Be the Next Step for Your Child