Literature and video games represent a stark difference in the primary sources of entertainment between generations. Where books once dominated culture, video games have intervened, absorbing enormous amounts of younger people’s time. Society tends to feel disproportionately averse to video games while idolizing books as noble ventures, though. This social norm may be nothing more than baseless speculation, however, as new developments in the study of the relationship between child development and video games suggest.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Andrew K. Przyblyski, reported in Forbes, video games (in some instances) can be quite beneficial in the psychosocial development of young children. The results of the experiment, which subjected 2436 male and 2436 female subjects between the ages of 10-15 to different amounts of gameplay, found that in comparison with those who did not play, children who played less than one-third of their daily free-time had “higher levels of prosocial behavior and life satisfaction and lower levels of conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, and emotional symptoms.” This revelation, itself, is enough to destroy the argument that video games are an intrinsic vice, but the study shows that in excess, video games can have a negative effect, leading to emotional instability and other conditions. The report goes further, suggesting that even violent, graphic video games do not have the substantial effect once hypothesized. These effects, rather, are incomparable to the influence of movies and television (passive forms of media).
The social norm vis-à-vis video games has turned out to be ill-founded, but will the same hold true for books? Do books have an unwarranted, positive connotation? A study conducted by scientists from Emory University and reported on by Daily Mail says otherwise. According to the results of the study, which had 12 students read 30-page sections of Pompeii every evening for nine days before undergoing an fMRI test while in rest for five mornings after, the positive influence of reading a book continues even days after one stops reading! The student’s left temporal cortex (which is usually associated with receptivity for language) and the central sulcus (which is the sensory motor region of the brain) consistently showed a continued heightened connectivity in each fMRI. These neural changes associated with these systems suggest that reading can quite literally, though not completely, transport one into the worlds of books while improving brain function!
These two studies lead me to believe that these formats of mass communication are more beneficial to society than not, as both video games and books positively influence psychosocial development and brain function, respectively. In excess, however, I think that video games can cause serious issues. I have seen kids develop extreme social awkwardness due to devoting too much time to video games. Beyond behavioral problems, these kids also have a bad track record in academics (an observation backed up by Parenting Science).
I think that books are by far the most beneficial type of mass communication in society. Literary neuroscience proves that the benefits of sustained reading include streamlined brain functioning. In addition, intellectual books are invaluable sources of information for me, and when I read them, they offer far more retention of knowledge than any educational movie or TV show ever could, as I can freely control the pace at which I progress.
To me, television is the most harmful type of mass communication. The lack of educational value in almost all TV shows is overlooked, leading humans develop quasi-addictions to binge-watching stupid, over-dramatic episodes (a colossal waste of time). News-based TV shows like Fox News, CNN, and NBC have dabbled in hyper-partisanship and can no longer be trusted to objectively report. Almost all products of the TV industry are skewed for entertainment purposes and are of no genuine value.