9 Negative Effects of Video Games on Human Health
The negative effects of video games include effects on our mind, body relationships, job performance, and more.
Are video games bad for your health? A decade ago most people would probably have said yes. After all, how could it be good for anyone to spend hours in front of a screen, playing often violent games? Are things as bad as we feared? The gaming industry has moved on and we’ve learned a lot more, so here’s what the science is saying.
|Negative Effects of Video Games on Human Health. Photo: ABC News|
1. Muscle pain
In 2014 Dutch researchers looked into reported problems with Nintendo. Associated discomforts with the neck, hand, wrist or forearm, became known as “Nintendinitis” or “Nintendo neck” or “Nintendo wrist” etc. Nintendo took the feedback seriously and actually modified their product based on some of the feedback. However, writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers concluded that most discomfort simply came from hours of playing games without users taking a break, as the Health Central.
Up to five percent of people with epilepsy have a form known as photosensitive epilepsy, where seizures are triggered by flashing lights or highly contrasting patterns. According to Epilepsy Action, computer screens represent a comparatively low risk for seizures, unless there are flashing or flickering images involved. The gaming industry itself is guided by standards available in the World Wide Web Consortium for ensuring content does not violate special patterns. Note, however, that these are guidelines, not law.
Sedentary lifestyles and poor diet contribute to obesity. Video gaming, like television and smartphones, support a sedentary lifestyle, especially when coupled with sugary or fatty snacks. However, exergaming is a newer form of gaming that combines games with physical activity. The game itself requires physical activity from the player and the outcome of the game partially relies on activity expended. Positive outcomes are reported in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, autism and obesity.
4. Lack of vitamin D
We tend to think of Rickets as a condition affecting children in Victorian times. Rickets weakens bones and leads to bent spines and bowed legs. It is caused by a lack of vitamin D, and whilst certain food groups contain the vitamin, our main source is through exposure of the skin to sunlight. In 2015, the UK chief medical officer, warned the average British toddler was only getting 27 percent of daily diet recommendation because of time spent indoors. A lesson for young gamers to get out more, perhaps?
5. Sleep deprivation
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has found that, on average, gamers delay going to bed 36 percent of the nights they played video games. The average game playing was 4.6 nights per week, which adds up to an average bedtime delay of 101 minutes. Sleep quality is also negatively affected in adults, as reported in this study examining the effects of gaming volume.
6. Attention problems
By now, you’ve got the message that too much screen time isn’t healthy. Children with attention problems tend also to have problems with impulse control and focus. In an interesting blog post entitled Why Can My Inattentive Child Pay Attention to Video Games? Victoria Dunckley, M.D. explores and explains the sometimes counterintuitive basis of attention.
7. Aggressive behavior
The debate over whether playing violent video games desensitizes or actively promotes aggressive behavior is as old as the gaming industry. In what is promoted as the first study to examine the long-term effects of violent video game play, published in Molecular Psychiatry 2017, the authors found no association between a variety of violent games and subsequent aggression.
8. Medication Overdose
According to the National Safely Council, unintentional overdose is responsible for more deaths among Americans between the ages of 35 and 54 years old than motor vehicle crashes. When taking any medication for addiction or any other problem, it is important to take only the amount prescribed. If you suspect possible overdose, it is important to act quickly. Options for immediate response include dialing 911 or contacting the National Poison Control Center, as the psych guides.
9. Depression and Video Game Addiction
Two recent studies concerning the ties between video game addiction and depression showed an alarming correlation between the two. If you suffer from both conditions, it’s important to seek help at a treatment facility that can address both issues. If you attempt to treat the video game addiction without treating the underlying depression, the addiction is more likely to recur.
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