As Generation X has grown up, many questions have been posed as to the benefits or harm resulting from playing video games. While the debates may continue over sociability, teamwork, hand-eye coordination, and violent tendencies, video games do allow players to improve their attention span. In particular, video game players increase and improve their attention span by learning to focus on the duration of the level or mission, as well as to focus on completing the game itself.
Short-term Attention Span Improvement
Many people playing video games play role-playing games or games involving levels. This encourages players to pay careful attention to detail for a prolonged time in order to reach a goal. In addition to improving short-term attention span, the goal-oriented nature of completing levels or tasks in a video game provide reward to a player for their attention span, positively reinforcing a player’s ability to concentrate.
Long-term Attention Span Improvement
In addition to rewarding the short-term attention span improvement, video games can also reward long-term attention spans. The nature of most games is to progress with some kind of long-term end goal. While these games encourage hours upon hours of play, which may affect activities and lifestyles, being involved in an activity for that long helps to increase long-term attention span.
Of course, neither side of the debate has been scientifically proven. Scientific studies suggest that video games help as well as hurt the player’s attention span. For example, in a recent study from Iowa State University found that children who watched more television and played more video games had shorter attention spans in the classroom; however, this is highly qualitative evidence and teacher bias or other outside factors could affect the experiment.
In the end, doing anything for prolonged periods of time may improve your attention span, but it might also cut into other areas of a person’s life (such as social time). Keeping a balanced life full of varied self-improvement and enjoyable activities is as important as building up one skill, such as a person’s attention span. However, video games can be a very enjoyable way to do just that.
Sources: Grohol, John M. “Video games and TV linked to decreased attention span.” PsychCentral. 5 July 2010. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/07/05/video-games-and-tv-linked-to-decreased-attention-span/. Accessed 12 July 2010.