Video games improve mental health

Games are helping to improve the mental health of kids everywhere

a screenshot from the game stardew valley

a screenshot from the game stardew valley

Jamie Rosloniec, Reporter

When I was younger, I had no friends, I felt isolated, and I was very depressed. All I did was sleep, eat, and go to school. One day though, my mom bought me a DSI and the games Nintendogs and Pokemon Black and slowly everything changed. I spent hours playing those games and talking to people in the online portions of the games, and I felt like I could be happy again.

a honey-tabby slime from slime rancher

You may not know this, but video games can actually improve your mental health. In many places around the world, people are starting to figure this out. In the BHC in Idaho falls, every day they play Just Dance or Mario Kart in the children’s unit at the end of the day. There are also many different virtual pet games being developed for people who cannot have real therapy animals.

Video games help people to feel less isolated and depressed, and we’ve seen them used in this way much more since the pandemic began. People have been using games like Animal Crossing and VRChat to connect with friends and family. Games like these are also used so that people can make new friends in the virtual world. 

Some people would have you believe the opposite of my claim, that video games cause more negative effects than positive. But video games often use strategies of positive reinforcement, they can be used for learning, and some games even teach you responsibility and how to care for things. And in a study by the APA last updated in 2020, video games are one of the most highly motivating tasks out there.

A girl catching a fish in Animal Crossing New Horizons

Games are now even being used in schools to help students learn and pick up things like math, science, and reading quicker. They keep students more focused and on task while also rewarding them for doing good. Plus, it is a fun and easy way to make kids smarter.

“Teachers are utilizing widely played games like Roblox and Minecraft to demonstrate scientific principles like climate change or cellular biology, and those games’ publishers are making their platforms as accessible as possible to educators during the crisis. As teachers around the world seek creative ways to engage homebound students with coursework, video games are aiding that effort.” said Elise Favis, The Washington Post.

Another case where video games have helped someone is that of Dmitry Pyanov, a Russian man born in 1990. When he was about seven years old his sister had bought him a tamagotchi that changed his life. He had always wanted a pet and this virtual pet helped him learn to be responsible. It also gave him something to do, and it made him feel less isolated and alone.

“Suddenly my dream of owning a pet was fully fulfilled. It was not just a pet, but an electronic pet that fits into my pocket and makes me feel proud of taking care of something that is alive, even if it lives inside of a cute plastic electronic egg. I was really happy to play with my pet, and whenever I go back to this moment from my childhood it makes me feel warm and comforting” said Pyanov

So the next time you are feeling alone, depressed, or anxious, just go and turn on your nearest phone, PC, or console and play your heart out. It may make you feel a whole lot better and improve how you are feeling and at the same time make you a little better of a person while you are at it. Because I know that video games certainly did that for me.