7 Benefits of Video Games for Certain Disorders

Science already supports the benefits of video games for certain disorders such as autism or hyperactivity. Discover them below.
7 Benefits of Video Games for Certain Disorders
Elena Sanz Martín

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

For some parents, especially those who grew up in the analog age, video games are seen as quite unknown and potentially dangerous. Many of us find it difficult to understand and accept that a screen, which in theory isolates our children from the world and only serves as entertainment, can be positive in any way. However, the benefits of video games are real and are already being supported by science.

In fact, it has been found that this type of leisure activity can help children with different psychological disorders such as autism or ADHD, as well as those children who have difficulties in specific cognitive functions. It’s important to remember that not all video games are violent and overstimulating; As in everything, there are many options and some of them can be educational and even therapeutic.

The benefits of video games for some psychological disorders

We can’t ignore the fact that video games can indeed be harmful. In fact, many parents fear them because of research and studies that support their addictive potential, their ability to affect the mood and socialization of players, and the effects of the sexist and violent content that many of them have.

Even so, we can’t generalize and close ourselves off to the benefits that these games can bring to children with various challenges. By choosing a suitable option, we can obtain the following positive effects.

They improve orientation

A child playing a virtual reality video game.

Spatial orientation is essential in everyday life. It’s the ability that allows us to determine the position of an object in relation to others and even in relation to ourselves; without it, we wouldn’t be able to move through space without bumping into each other or grasping and manipulating objects.

Video games can enhance this ability in children, helping them to understand how pieces fit together, how far apart elements are, or how to follow a route on a map.

They favor coordination

Hand-eye coordination is something that most video games work on, especially action games that are so popular among  little ones. An interesting study found that those who play regularly have greater activity in brain circuits related to sensorimotor coordination; and that, in fact, the benefits of video games in this regard can equal those obtained by playing sports such as basketball or tennis.

They allow children to practice social skills

Social communication is a challenge for children with autism, but also for others with disorders such as social phobia or a degree of excessive shyness. Although video games may seem to isolate, they can actually be the perfect platform to practice and improve social skills.

In the relative anonymity provided by the virtual world, and through a multiplayer mode, youngsters can interact with other young people who share their interests, learn to work as a team, and feel like they’re part of a group. In addition, the learning acquired this way can then be extrapolated to their daily conversations and relationships in the real world.

They help sustain attention

One of the main difficulties of children with ADHD is their inability to sustain attention for long periods of time. In this regard, video games provide the conditions to facilitate this task. Let’s keep in mind that in them, kids can receive rewards and positive feedback immediately and therefore progress, advance to higher levels, and face new obstacles; Something that helps keep their interest.

They reduce impulsiveness

Along the same lines, another of the benefits of video games for ADHD is their potential to reduce impulsivity. Some of them require medium or high reaction times, which forces children to exercise self-control and reflect before acting in order to choose the most beneficial action.

They favor decision making and logical thinking

As opposed to rash decisions, many games require a strategy to achieve good results. Thus, playing games on a regular basis can help foster logical thinking and controlled decision-making. Let’s not forget that video games thus become a space for practicing skills that minors will later be able to apply to their lives and their daily contexts.

Help improve self-concept

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that video games can help improve the self-concept of children who suffer from certain disorders. Due to the difficulties they face on a daily basis, they can generate a negative image of themselves, consider themselves clumsy, insufficient, or of little value. Games provide them with a safe space to explore and improve their skills and receive reinforcements and rewards in this regard. In this way, their conception of who they are and what they are capable of can improve.

Get the benefits of video games by choosing the right option

The above are just some of the multiple benefits of video games for childhood disorders; however, there are many other conditions that can be positively affected by them. There are applications and games on the market aimed at working on language problems, developing emotional intelligence, enhancing memory… many of them are even designed by professionals and experts.

Therefore, the key is to choose the right option. Certain video games are counterproductive because they expose minors to excess stimulation, inappropriate content, or random rewards that can lead to addiction. Likewise, excessive use that interferes with functioning in other areas of daily life is detrimental.

However, the right video game combined with parental regulation and supervision can be an excellent ally. Children can see their symptoms reduced and can improve their abilities and skills with a leisure activity that pleases them and attracts their attention. Therefore, they’re a powerful therapeutic alternative.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gong, D., He, H., Liu, D., Ma, W., Dong, L., Luo, C., & Yao, D. (2015). Enhanced functional connectivity and increased gray matter volume of insula related to action video game playing. Scientific reports, 5(1), 1-7. Disponible en: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep09763
  • García-Ríos, C. A., & García-Ríos, V. E. (2020). Videojuegos para niños con trastorno por déficit de atención e hiperactividad. Dominio de las Ciencias, 6(3), 706-717. Disponible en: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep09763

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.