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VGs' impact on Pediatric Age
A growing number of children and adolescents play video games (VGs) for long amounts of time. The current outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced outdoor activities and direct interpersonal relationships. Therefore, a higher use of VGs can become the response to stress and fear of illness.
The current systematic review focuses on some crucial outstanding issues within the debate on the effects of VGs on cognition and behavior in order to provide suggestions for parents, pediatricians, health providers and educators dealing with pediatric ages, especially in the complex pandemic period. Namely, it analyzes the most debated and educationally relevant problems on the relationship between video games, cognition and behavior: 1. video games’ effects on cognitive function; 2. video games’ effects on attention and addictive behaviors; 3. video games and prosocial or aggressive behavior. Therefore, the current analysis may be accounted as an original contribution to the practical dimension in the educational and rehabilitation field for parents and educators.
Early common predominant opinions mainly focused on VGs according to dichotomous thinking, as enjoyable entertainment or harmful tools . The recent literature instead provided evidence on the impact of VGs on the brain and its functional modifications while playing , showing that video games involve different cortical and subcortical structures, with cognitive and emotional competence, such as frontal and prefrontal regions, the posterior and superior parietal lobe, the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, limbic areas, the amygdala, the entorhinal cortex and basal nuclei .
Similarly, Lee et al. , found a thinner cortex and a smaller gray matter volume in critical areas for evaluating reward values, error processing and adjusting behavior, namely, the anterior cingulate cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex and the frontoparietal areas, in young male adults with internet gaming disorders, compared to age-matched healthy male controls. A neuroimaging study examined in individuals affected by gaming disorders the differences during the playing of a violence-related vs. a non-violence-related version of the same VG . While functional connectivity of the reward-related network and the behavioral inhibition system was altered, the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cerebral area were overstimulated, similarly to smart drug addiction .
Recently, Kwak et al.  longitudinally compared 14 adolescents with internet gaming disorder to 12 professional internet gaming students who practiced for about ten hours a day, within a defined support system that included practice, physical exercise, lectures on team strategy, rest and mealtimes. After one year, both groups showed increased brain activity within the attention system of the parietal lobe. However, professional gamers improved problematic behaviors, impulsivity, aggression, depression and anxiety, while adolescents with internet gaming disorder showed no behavioral improvement and a dysfunctional brain activity within the impulse control network in the left orbitofrontal cortex.
2. Effect of Video Games on Cognitive Functions
3. Video Games Effect on Attention and Addictive Behaviors
4. Video Games Effect and Prosocial and Aggressive Behaviors
The entry is from 10.3390/pediatric13030047
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