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Are Video Games Bad for You? [The Pros and Cons of Video Games]
Updated · Aug 28, 2023
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Video games have dominated the entertainment world and become a part of everyday life. Current global video gamers exceed 3.09 billion and are expected to reach 3.32 billion by 2024. Undeniably, gaming is deeply integrated into half of the population's lifestyles.
Every week, users spend an average of 7 hours playing video games. It is popular among people ages 18-35. While video games may be great entertainment, excessive time on this platform could adversely affect one's health and social skills.
Learn how video games have influenced people's lives and the benefits and adverse effects of using them.
🔑 Key Takeaways
Video Games: Harmful or Beneficial?
Video games offer advantages and drawbacks, ranging from simple board puzzles to complex MMORPGs. It demands strategic thinking, teamwork, and patience. While appealing for its challenges, excessive play can negatively impact one's well-being.
This thorough guide will help you explore the consequences of video games on people's lives, emphasizing their positive and negative impacts on players.
The game's colors, sounds, purpose, task, and features have been meticulously designed to maintain player engagement and encourage in-game purchases.
How Video Games Affect the Brain
Video games have various brain effects that are more evident than others. These games were designed by cognitive psychologists and many other experts to be addictive.
Here are some common cognitive, structural, and functional effects of video games.
Gaming Stimulates Dopamine
Video games release small doses of dopamine, making players happy and motivated. However, prolonged gaming sessions can cause the brain to shut down, leading to dopamine deficiency and symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and anxiety.
Causes Fight-or-flight Response
The fight-or-flight response, a typical response to danger, helps one stay focused and alert. The brain, however, may view threats as natural and a battle when playing violent video games, which prompts aggressive reactions.
In certain situations, the fight-or-flight amygdala may assume control, preventing access to the logical portion of the brain. This can result in a loss of concentration and vigilance.
Decreases Prefrontal Cortex Activity in the Developing Brain
The prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making, judgment, and self-control, fully develops at age 25. This can make young gamers less able to weigh immediate rewards against long-term goals. This may explain why some neglect basic needs like food, sleep, exercise, and personal hygiene.
Violent video games can lower activity in developing brains, with studies showing lower activity in essential brain areas when trying to control behavior.
Today, playing video games is the most common hobby for people of all ages. However, some nations have banned them because they are depraved, immoral, and violent. Click here for a list of the famous games that are prohibited.
The following are some negative impacts that playing video games may have on cognition, physical health, and mental health:
Negative Impacts of Video Games
There is no denying the joy that playing video games can bring. Like everything else, excessive playing can result in addiction-like symptoms and a disregard for essential facets of life, including relationships, employment, and mental and physical health.
Read on to learn more about the negative impacts of video games on your physical and psychological well-being in the following section.
The Negative Effects on Physical Health
Playing video games for extended periods can severely affect your physical health. Here are a few issues related to gaming addiction that you could experience.
1. Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting in the same position for the entire day can be detrimental. The less you move and exercise, the more your body will suffer.
Excessive gaming can lead to poor posture and overall physical well-being.
You may have common health issues as a result of this, which include the following:
- weight gain
- muscle loss
- stiff joints
- chronic headaches
- neck and back problems
- cardiovascular disease
2. Eye Strain and Vision Problems
Video games and excessive screen time can lead to computer vision syndrome (CVS), causing strain and symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. Other risk factors include screen glare, poor posture, and improper lighting.
Video games and excessive screen time can negatively impact eye health. Uncorrected vision problems like myopia can worsen symptoms as the eyes need more stress to focus.
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This occurs when the carpal tunnel, the wrist region that houses the nerve and tendons, swells. This issue can also be addressed using a computer mouse or video game controller.
This is an indication of a physical gaming addiction. It can also irritate or cause swelling on the primary nerve between the forearm and hand.
Light and noise can cause excruciating pain, resulting in migraines. Extensive video game play increases the risk due to intense concentration and eye strain, leading to migraines.
Migraine headaches start in one spot and gradually spread, becoming more painful as they progress. Severe cases can cause vomiting.
5. Sleep Disturbances
Excessive video gaming can disrupt sleep by keeping gamers up late. This can cause weariness, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings.
Lack of sleep can negatively impact mental health, including melancholy, anxiety, and a compromised immune system.
6. Eating Irregularities
Most addicted gamers don't want to take the time to eat regularly. Instead of eating balanced meals, they prefer to nibble on unhealthy fast food.
The player may decide to starve themselves if the situation worsens. This is one way in which gaming addiction manifests itself.
7. Poor Personal Hygiene
A game addict may disregard basic hygiene practices, including showering, washing their face, and brushing their teeth. The strength of the bodily effects is typically associated with the severity of the addiction.
The likelihood of early impacts increases for players who need to be in better physical shape. Thus, maintaining a healthy routine should be a top priority. The player's current health status may affect the severity of these effects. Additionally, excessive gaming is also linked to mental health problems.
Learn how video games can affect your mental health through the following details.
The Negative Effects on Mental Health
Playing video games can negatively impact your physical and mental health, particularly when you become addicted.
Read these comprehensive analyses of the effects of video games on your mental health. These include the following:
1. Addiction and Gaming Disorder
There have also been links between gaming and mental health issues. Whether video game addiction or internet gaming disorder (IGD) is a distinct syndrome is debatable.
The American Psychological Association (APA) specifies the following nine symptoms as diagnostic of IGD when present for at least 12 months:
- loss of relationship, educational, or career opportunities
- loss of interest in other activities
- downplaying use
- gaming preoccupation
- continued gaming despite psychosocial problems.
- failure to control
- relying on video games as a coping mechanism for negative moods.
2. Increase Social Anxiety
Gaming can cause social anxiety due to addiction, which leads to losing real-life friends and neglecting relationships. People often turn to video games as an escape from real life, ignoring real-life relationships and resulting in worsening social anxiety.
Relying on video games and online platforms can limit the benefits of having friends in real life, such as adventures, new connections, and genuine relationships.
3. Poor Emotional Regulation
Playing video games is a common way for people to "zone out" and temporarily forget their worries, especially young children and teenagers. However, playing video games for extended periods every day may make your negative feelings more apparent.
Excessive game time can lead to skill deficits, such as regulating emotions, negatively impacting overall well-being.
4. Aggressive Behavior and Violence
Video games contain violence that negatively impacts children, leading to increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Anderson and Bushman's study reveals that children playing violent video games may develop physical aggression and immunity to simulated violence, which increases attack, reduces empathy, and lowers emotional sensitivity.
A 2010 study also found that video games cause aggression in children with specific personalities, with children with high neuroticism and low conscientiousness becoming more aggressive after violent video games.
Video games can severely impact mental health, including addiction, increased social anxiety, poor emotional regulation, and aggressive behavior.
Video games also have potential benefits. Read on to learn more about these benefits.
Potential Benefits of Video Games: A Nuanced Reality
Research on adverse effects has mainly focused on violence, addiction, and depression. However, a balanced perspective is needed to consider potential cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social benefits.
Read on to learn about the positive impacts of video gaming on gamers.
1. Cognitive Benefits
Despite widespread notions to the contrary, engaging in video game play improves a wide variety of cognitive abilities. It improves the following:
- Problem-solving and logic: A child's brain develops creative problem-solving skills through games like The Incredible Machine, Angry Birds, and Cut The Rope, enhancing their ability to solve puzzles quickly.
- Multitasking Ability: When building a city in a strategy game, for example, you can run into an unforeseen obstacle, like an opponent. This calls for the player to be adaptable and rapid with strategy changes.
- Improves Memory: Gaming can have long-lasting memory benefits. Using Super Mario 64, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona discovered that playing video games as a child can enhance a person's working memory years later.
- Increases Intelligence: Karolinska Institutet and Vrije Universiteit researchers found that American adolescents who played video games gained 2.5 IQ points more than average, but TV and social media did not significantly impact their cognitive capacities.
Shooting games require hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial skills to navigate simultaneous movements. Players must consider factors like position, speed, and gun aiming. This requires eye-hand coordination and visual-spatial ability.
Even adults have shown a link between playing video games and having higher surgical abilities. Video games also teach iconic, spatial, and visual attention skills. Experts contend that the effects of video games are responsible for the younger generation's aptitude as combat pilots.
3. Skill Development
SimCity, Age of Empires, and Railroad Tycoon are strategy games that teach players how to manage and use limited resources.
The American Planning Association and Maxis claim that SimCity has inspired many players to pursue urban planning and architecture careers.
4. Social Interaction and Communication
Shared interests in gaming can build friendships and relationships, highlighting the importance of connectedness. The study, co-authored by Dr. Linda Kaye, highlights the psychological benefits of gaming, including connectedness.
Gaming is no longer merely a form of amusement for adults; it has become a new form of socialization. Games facilitate more natural social interactions between individuals. Many friendships and relationships have formed and grown through playing multiplayer games, conversing in chatrooms, and attending public gaming events.
5. Mental Health
A video game can help you escape real-world problems and unwanted thoughts, reducing stress. Activities that are fun and stimulating release dopamine, which helps people deal with stress daily.
Some video games also provide a sense of accomplishment and stress relief through their challenges and immediate rewards.
6. Educational and Learning Opportunities
According to research by Dr. Mark Griffiths, video games offer entertainment value and positive potential, mainly when designed to address problems or teach skills, resulting in significant success.
Using the educational advantages of video games, game-based learning spreads knowledge through three main components: enjoyment, comprehension, and enjoyment.
- Provides a new perspective on learning: Education is transformed into an enjoyable, thrilling game, allowing students to assimilate and retain information effortlessly.
- Gives Motivation: Students' success is rewarded with medals, extra lives, and bonuses, boosting motivation and keeping them interested in learning as the main characters in the story.
- Exercises opportunities to practice: Flight and navigation simulators enable students to apply knowledge safely without exposing them to dangerous situations.
Check out a few educational video games in the table below:
Contribution to Education
⌛In a Nutshell:
Gamers can develop coordination through shooting games and Skill development through others. It can also enhance mental health by reducing everyday stress.
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of playing video games, learn how to find balance through these tips for having a responsible gaming habit.
Finding Balance: Tips for Responsible Gaming Habits
Gaming practices need not be at odds with other, more beneficial lifestyle choices. Here are tips and strategies for balancing gaming and other aspects of your life.
Set Time Limits and Prioritize Real-Life Activities
A gaming schedule is crucial for healthy gaming, especially for students and remote workers. It should limit electronic use while allowing time for relaxation and fun.
For example, an hour of gaming on weekdays provides relaxation, chores, exercise, and errands. On weekends, allow extra gaming time but limit it to more productive activities.
Maintain Physical Activity and Exercise
Playing video games for hours can cause physical challenges. Exercise is essential to maintaining a figure, providing energy, and promoting overall health.
Integrating physical activity into video games can enhance your fitness.
Prioritize training in multiplayer games by engaging in 15-minute matches and activities, using incentives like push-ups and sit-ups, and setting a 15-minute timer on phones.
Most games can be paused at any point, so it's essential to prioritize exercise during each game.
Establish Parental Guidance and Monitor Young Players
Parents must not focus solely on the child exhibiting this behavior. It is both a parental problem and a disorder that affects kids. In most cases, encouraging parents to participate in their kids' gaming activities is best.
Together, set healthy limits and actively seek out various online activities for children. This approach, especially when initiated at a young age, will keep most children's gaming safe and responsible.
If appropriately used, these apps can be beneficial. Over 90% of parents found parental Control apps helpful in monitoring their children’s online activities.
As your child gets older, it can progressively teach them how to protect themselves from internet hazards while soothing your concerns for their security.
Recognize and Address Gaming Addiction
Overcome video game addiction with nationwide programs and support groups designed to help individuals and their loved ones break free from addiction to video games.
End video game addiction by stepping away, discarding gaming equipment, and seeking treatment if severe problems persist. Explore online therapy options for a successful recovery.
The Final Verdict- Excessive Playtime is Bad
The worldwide gaming market will increase from $175.8 billion in 2021 to over $200 billion in 2024. This data only shows how rapidly the gaming sector is growing.
With the industry's continuous growth, it is vital to note that playing computer games too much can negatively affect your health, so use technology responsibly.
Despite the adverse effects on physical and mental health, video games can improve various aspects of life, including social and cognitive skills.
Checking yourself and stepping back when necessary will help you strike an optimistic balance between gaming and health. Finally, have a yearly eye exam to address concerns with focus and monitor your physical and mental health both on and off-screen.
Is it bad to play video games every day?
Yes, everyday video game play may cause problems. It can lead to obesity, as insufficient physical activity and active recreation can hinder physical activity and prevent obesity.
Can video game addiction ruin your life?
Yes, Video game addiction can negatively impact personal life, mental health, and relationships. Early treatment is crucial for recovery from chronic and progressive addictions.
Does gaming affect your personality?
Excessive video gaming impacts character through positive emotions and social relationships but also leads to maladaptive coping strategies, negative attitudes, low self-esteem, and loneliness.
Do gamers get PTSD?
Yes, they can. War games can trigger PTSD in players; one example is the game "Call of Duty: Black Ops." This action prompts veterans to recall the harsh realities of some of the darkest moments of the war.
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