Why reading is different than gaming

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Reading vs. gaming: the never ending debate. Is one better than the other? Gaming, when used excessively and with addictive tendencies, can be detrimental to the brain. It can foster addiction, numb your brain and feelings, and when used in excess, can destroy personal, real life relationships. However, gaming also has positive effects on the brain. It can improve hand-eye coordination, can introduce children to technology, and can provide pain relief to patients undergoing painful procedures or those living with chronic pain.

It is important to remember that when you allow your kids to play video games, you should preview in great detail what the game is about – make sure it isn’t excessively violent, but that it is instead something that helps them learn. There are many games out there that are fun and educational at the same time. Encourage your kids to utilize those games instead of those that are graphically violent.

Reading, however, is completely different than playing games or watching movies. Even if your child is learning by playing educational games, their brain won’t learn the same way than it would when they’re reading books. Books force the mind to think, imagine what is being written, and create. It encourages the mind to make complex connections with each page that is written. Gaming and other media intake can be repetitive, which is harmful when overused. When brain power is lost in one skill, it is replaced with another; this is exactly what happens with gaming. Gaming visuals are already created and determined – the mind can’t engage in the same level of imagination as it can with the storyline in a book.  In addition, reading helps improve the attention span of the person reading, which helps cultivate discipline. Gaming, while engaging the player for a time, is more disruptive to the attention span.

Gaming, when used in moderation, has clear benefits. Reading will also teach discipline while promoting learning and imagination. If you believe your gaming has affected your brain’s ability to imagine, create, and experience life to the fullest, visit www.hooked-on-games.com for more information.


By Brooke Strickland