We all know what it’s like when you’ve got exams coming up. You know you should be studying, but it’s so easy to get distracted. The TV goes on, you find yourself on social media or even promise yourself a few minutes of video or online gaming. After ten minutes turns into half an hour, which turns into a couple of hours, suddenly you realize that you’ve done no studying and you’re mad with yourself. But maybe you shouldn’t be.
Well, okay, maybe watching daytime TV or browsing through your friend’s holiday photos on Facebook is not a productive way to spend your study time, but online gaming could actually be beneficial to your studying. A new study has found that some forms of online gaming improve visual attention and concentration, which allows people to focus on important information and suppress irrelevant data.
The study, carried out by staff at the University of Rochester and published in Wire’s “Cognitive Science,” found that online gamers outperformed non-gamers in attention tests. In fact, the study found that the faster paced the games you play online are, the better you become at visual attention. Gaming is thought to have potential military benefits and may even be able to help people who suffer from some visual conditions such as lazy eye.
According to study co-author Bjorn Hubert-Wallander, “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.” Shawn Green, the other co-author, agrees: “At the core of 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.” He added: “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.”
While the benefits of online gaming don’t just end with improved visual attention, there’s no getting away from the fact that studying still has to be done. Don’t go thinking that just by playing a few hours online you’re going to ace your test. With that said, it’s long been known that breaking study down into more bite-size blocks helps with retaining information: After around thirty to forty-five minutes, the amount of information you can take in and remember plummets, so taking regular breaks to go online and enjoy fifteen minutes of gaming or dropping into to an online casino, such as Betsafe, can recalibrate your mind. Your subconscious brain will still be processing the information you have taken in while your conscious brain will be enjoying a rest.
Certain types of online game can also help to increase problem-solving skills and even other areas, such as math and memory. Training your brain to work out probability or chance online can help to improve your skills in this area, as well as just keeping your brain work effectively. So, you don’t have to feel guilty when it’s study time and you take some time off to play a few games of online bingo or a few hands of poker. It could be improving your attention and concentration, building your numerical skills or simply giving your brain a much-needed rest. Just remember not to get too carried away. Think of these interludes as a treat you have to earn by doing your required study.