Published Apr 28, 2023

Ishita Mehra

Shagufta Nasir

Anand Prakash  


Due to the breakthrough of new technological devices in the last decade, electronic media has now become an integral part of our lives. Among its various forms, playing video games is one screen-based recreational activity enjoyed across various age groups and genders. Although undoubtedly entertaining, there is a considerable debate over the relative impact of video gaming on an individual. Traditionally, the research has focused on the negative effects of playing video games, but recent studies show that they can be an effective tool to reduce stress caused by daily hassles, help connect with likeminded people, and enhance a wide range of cognitive skills. There is also a small pool of research on the use of commercial video games in a therapeutic capacity to help build rapport and provide social skill training. This manuscript is focused on reviewing the pertinent research of the last two decades and from various online sources of scientific information on the abovementioned aspects of electronic and video games, their therapeutic implications in mental health, and suggesting future research directions.



Video Games, Computer Games, Mental Health, Psychological Impact, Cognitive Skills

1. Domingues-Montanari S. Clinical and psychological effects of excessive screen time on children. J Paediatr Child Health 2017; 53(4):333-338. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13462

2. Primack BA, Carroll MV, McNamara M, Klem ML, King B, Rich M, Chan CW, Nayak S. Role of video games in improving health-related outcomes: A systematic review. Am J Prev Med 2012; 42(6):630-638. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2012.02.023

3. von der Heiden JM, Braun B, Müller KW, Egloff B. The association between video gaming and psychological functioning. Front Psychol 2019; 10:1731. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01731

4. Chesham A, Wyss P, Müri RM, Mosimann UP, Nef T. What older people like to play: Genre preferences and acceptance of casual games. JMIR Serious Games 2017; 5(2):e8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/games.7025

5. Brown JA. Exploring the Next Generation of Older Gamers: Middle-Aged Gamers. In: Zhou, J., Salvendy, G. (eds) Human aspects of IT for the aged population. healthy and active aging. ITAP 2016. Lect Notes Comput Sci 2016; 9755. Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39949-2_30

6. King DL; Gaming Industry Response Consortium. Comment on the global gaming industry's statement on ICD-11 gaming disorder: A corporate strategy to disregard harm and deflect social responsibility? Addiction 2018; 113(11):2145-2146. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/add.14388

7. Griffiths MD. Online Games, Addiction and Overuse of. In The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society 2014; pp.1-6. Wiley. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118767771.wbiedcs044

8. Uttal DH, Meadow NG, Tipton E, Hand LL, Alden AR, Warren C, Newcombe NS. The malleability of spatial skills: A meta-analysis of training studies. Psychol Bull 2013; 139(2):352-402. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028446

9. Wai J, Lubinski D, Benbow CP, Steiger JH. Accomplishment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and its relation to STEM educational dose: A 25-year longitudinal study. J Educ Psychol 2010; 102(4):860-871. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019454

10. Peretz C, Korczyn AD, Shatil E, Aharonson V, Birnboim S, Giladi N. Computer-based, personalized cognitive training versus classical computer games: A randomized double-blind prospective trial of cognitive stimulation. Neuroepidemiology 2011; 36(2):91-99. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1159/000323950

11. Adachi PJ, Willoughby T. More than just fun and games: The longitudinal relationships between strategic video games, self-reported problem solving skills, and academic grades. J Youth Adolesc 2013; 42(7):1041-1052. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-9913-9

12. Ewoldsen DR, Eno CA, Okdie BM, Velez JA, Guadagno RE, DeCoster J. Effect of playing violent video games cooperatively or competitively on subsequent cooperative behavior. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2012; 15(5):277-280. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2011.0308

13. Schmierbach M, Xu Q, Oeldorf-Hirsch A, Dardis FE. Electronic friend or virtual foe: Exploring the role of competitive and cooperative multiplayer video game modes in fostering enjoyment. Media Psychol 2012; 15(3):356-371. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2012.702603

14. Milani L, La Torre G, Fiore M, Grumi S, Gentile DA, Ferrante M, Miccoli S, Di Blasio P. Internet gaming addiction in adolescence: Risk factors and maladjustment correlates. Int J Ment Health Addict 2018; 16(4):888-904. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9750-2

15. Kowert R, Domahidi E, Quandt T. The relationship between online video game involvement and gaming-related friendships among emotionally sensitive individuals. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2014; 17(7):447-453. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2013.0656

16. Gentile D. Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8 to 18: A national study. Psychol Sci 2009; 20(5):594-602. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02340.x. Erratum in: Psychol Sci 2009; 20(6):785.

17. Zirek E, Mustafaoglu R, Yasaci Z, Griffiths MD. A systematic review of musculoskeletal complaints, symptoms, and pathologies related to mobile phone usage. Musculoskelet Sci Pract 2020; 49:102196. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msksp.2020.102196

18. Ayenigbara I. Gaming disorder and effects of gaming on health: An overview. J Addict Med Therap Sci 2018; 2018:1-3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17352/2455-3484.000025

19. Kim N, Hughes TL, Park CG, Quinn L, Kong ID. Resting-state peripheral catecholamine and anxiety levels in korean male adolescents with internet game addiction. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2016; 19(3):202-208. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2015.0411

20. Männikkö N, Ruotsalainen H, Miettunen J, Pontes HM, Kääriäinen M. Problematic gaming behaviour and health-related outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Health Psychol 2020; 25(1):67-81. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105317740414

21. Peracchia S, Curcio G. Exposure to video games: Effects on sleep and on post-sleep cognitive abilities. A systematic review of experimental evidences. Sleep Sci 2018; 11(4):302-314. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5935/1984-0063.20180046

22. Amin KP, Griffiths MD, Dsouza DD. Online gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic in India: strategies for work-life balance. Int J Ment Health Addict 2022; 20(1):296-302. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00358-1

23. Jeong EJ, Kim DJ, Lee DM. Game addiction from psychosocial health perspective. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series 2015; 1-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2781562.2781587

24. Jeong EJ, Kim DH. Social activities, self-efficacy, game attitudes, and game addiction. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2011; 14(4):213-221. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2009.0289

25. Anderson CA, Shibuya A, Ihori N, Swing EL, Bushman BJ, Sakamoto A, Rothstein HR, Saleem M. Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychol Bull 2010; 136(2):151-173. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018251

26. Shao R, Wang Y. The relation of violent video games to adolescent aggression: An examination of moderated mediation effect. Front Psychol 2019; 10:384. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00384

27. Anderson CA, Dill KE. Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. J Pers Soc Psychol 2000; 78(4):772-790. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.78.4.772

28. Gentile DA, Lynch PJ, Linder JR, Walsh DA. The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. J Adolesc 2004; 27(1):5-22. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.10.002

29. Cole H, Griffiths MD. Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. Cyberpsychol Behav 2007; 10(4):575-583. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2007.9988

30. Snodgrass JG, Dengah HJF 2nd, Polzer E, Else R. Intensive online videogame involvement: A new global idiom of wellness and distress. Transcult Psychiatry 2019; 56(4):748-774. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461519844356

31. Granic I, Lobel A, Engels RC. The benefits of playing video games. Am Psychol 2014; 69(1):66-78. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034857

32. Olson CK, Kutner LA, Warner DE. The role of violent video game content in adolescent development: Boys’ perspectives. J Adolesc Res 2008; 23(1):55-75. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558407310713

33. Pallavicini F, Ferrari A, Mantovani F. Video games for well-being: A systematic review on the application of computer games for cognitive and emotional training in the adult population. Front Psychol 2018; 9:2127. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02127

34. Gentile DA, Bailey K, Bavelier D, Brockmyer JF, Cash H, Coyne SM, Doan A, Grant DS, Green CS, Griffiths M, Markle T, Petry NM, Prot S, Rae CD, Rehbein F, Rich M, Sullivan D, Woolley E, Young K. Internet gaming disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2017; 140(Suppl 2):S81-S85. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-1758H

35. Feng W, Ramo DE, Chan SR, Bourgeois JA. Internet gaming disorder: Trends in prevalence 1998-2016. Addict Behav 2017; 75:17-24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.06.010

36. Mihara S, Higuchi S. Cross-sectional and longitudinal epidemiological studies of Internet gaming disorder: A systematic review of the literature. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2017; 71(7):425-444. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/pcn.12532

37. Stevens MW, Dorstyn D, Delfabbro PH, King DL. Global prevalence of gaming disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2021; 55(6):553-568. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867420962851

38. King DL, Potenza MN. Gaming disorder among female adolescents: A hidden problem? J Adolesc Health 2020; 66(6):650-652. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.03.011

39. Peter SC, Ginley MK, Pfund RA. Assessment and treatment of internet gaming disorder. J Health Serv Psychol 2020; 46(1):29-36. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42843-020-00005-2

40. Pontes HM, Griffiths MD. New concepts, old known issues: The DSM-5 and internet gaming disorder and its assessment. In Psychological and Social Implications Surrounding Internet and Gaming Addiction, 2015; pp.16-30. IGI Global. ISBN13: 978146668595. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-4666-8595-6.ch002

41. Pontes HM, SchivinskiB, Sindermann C, Li M, Becker B, Zhou M, Montag C. Measurement and conceptualization of gaming disorder according to the world health organization framework: The development of the gaming disorder test. Int J Ment Health Addict 2019; 2019:1-21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-019-00088-z

42. Zajac K, Ginley MK, Chang R. Treatments of internet gaming disorder: A systematic review of the evidence. Expert Rev Neurother 2020; 20(1):85-93. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14737175.2020.1671824

43. Torres-Rodríguez A, Griffiths MD, Carbonell X, Oberst U. Treatment efficacy of a specialized psychotherapy program for Internet Gaming Disorder. J Behav Addict 2018; 7(4):939-952. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.111

44. Bae S, Hong JS, Kim SM, Han DH. Bupropion shows different effects on brain functional connectivity in patients with internet-based gambling disorder and internet gaming disorder. Front Psychiatry 2018; 9:130. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00130

45. Song J, Park JH, Han DH, Roh S, Son JH, Choi TY, Lee H, Kim TH, Lee YS. Comparative study of the effects of bupropion and escitalopram on Internet gaming disorder. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2016; 70(11):527-535. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/pcn.12429

46. Petry NM. Pause and Reset: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Problems with Gaming. Oxford University Press, 2019; ISBN: 9780190279509. Available at: https://www.google.com/books/edition/_/8hGCswEACAAJ?hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjkq5W5gar-AhWDF1kFHSa7D-QQ7_IDegQIChAD

47. Colder Carras M, Van Rooij AJ, Spruijt-Metz D, Kvedar J, Griffiths MD, Carabas Y, Labrique A. Commercial video games as therapy: A new research agenda to unlock the potential of a global pastime. Front Psychiatry 2018; 8:300. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00300

48. Fish MT, Saul AD. The gamification of meditation: A randomized-controlled study of a prescribed mobile mindfulness meditation application in reducing college students’ depression. Simul Gaming 2019; 50(4):419-435. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878119851821

49. Gielis K, Brito F, Tournoy J, Vanden Abeele V. Can card games be used to assess mild cognitive impairment? A study of Klondike Solitaire and cognitive functions. CHI PLAY 2017 Extended Abstracts - Extended Abstracts Publication of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, 2017; 269-276. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3130859.3131328

50. Althoff T, White RW, Horvitz E. Influence of pokémon go on physical activity: Study and implications. J Med Internet Res 2016; 18(12):e315. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.6759
How to Cite
Mehra, I., Nasir, S., & Prakash, A. (2023). Computer and Video Games in Mental Health. Science Insights, 42(4), 877–883. https://doi.org/10.15354/si.23.re261