Are Video Games Bad for You?
Updated · Jun 03, 2022
Gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment.
An average gamer spends about 8 hours and 27 minutes each week in front of the monitor. That's a 14% increase from 2020, and that number will likely grow.
But are video games bad for you?
We’re here to set things straight.
In this post, we’ll go through expert opinions and study results. We’ll discuss the dangers of video games and the positive effects they can have.
Let’s dive into it.
Are Video Games Bad for You
Almost everyone agrees that video games can be a great recreational hobby. But if you take it too far, it can have all sorts of negative effects both on your body and mind.
So. Are video games bad for you? If yes, why?
There are several reasons:
One of the biggest negative effects of video games is that they lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Most of the time, gaming involves sitting in one spot and moving nothing but your fingers. Doing so for several hours straight is definitely not good for you.
The issue is, the nature of video games is such that it encourages long sessions. Whether you play MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) or compete in online sports games, one hour of gameplay simply isn’t enough.
If you want to earn in-game currency or find valuable items, entire gaming sessions might be necessary.
So, what happens if you play video games for too long?
People who overindulge tend to exercise less and have poor eating habits. This is backed by a recent study that involved over 1,000 male college students.
It showed that those who indulge in gaming consume more saturated fat and sodium. This suggested that they eat more salty snacks and fewer fruits and vegetables.
These unhealthy habits often result in excess weight gain. That leads to some serious chronic diseases later in life.
This is a great example of how video games are bad.
Another issue is that gaming can hurt your eyesight. The American Optometric Association for digital eye strain has even come up with the term Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include eye strain, dry eye, as well as pain in the neck and shoulders.
They’re caused by glare and low screen contrast - it forces your eyes to work harder than usual.
Another one of the negative effects of video games - they require the constant focus of your eyes.
Take multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games as an example. Let’s say that your match lasted for 45 minutes. Chances are you couldn’t move away from your desk until one of the teams won. Even if you did, you probably spent it looking at your phone. Although video games are more likely to cause CVS, phone screens don’t help either.
So, how do you fight this issue?
Generally, it’s advised to follow the 20-20-20 rule. It includes stepping away from your keyboard or controller every 20 minutes and looking at something that’s 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Hence the name.
Another thing you can do - make sure that when you’re playing video games, you don’t do it in the dark or direct sunlight.
You can even get glasses with an anti-reflective coating. Some of them can even block blue light and thus reduce the eyesight damage caused by video games.
If you do a quick Google search on video games and the negative effects, you’ll definitely see a thing or two about addiction.
It’s closely related to dopamine addiction which is, in fact, what you can get when overindulging.
A study showed that video games raise the level of dopamine by 100%.
There isn’t a single factor that leads to addiction. What you do in the developmental stage isn’t the only factor that contributes to it. So, don’t blame the games only.
The link between video games and dopamine may, however, lead to addiction.
When you're slouching and not sitting up correctly, it hurts your posture. Add poor ergonomics to the mix and you will have some serious back problems. It’s one of the video gaming effects you’d want to avoid.
It can also lead to:
- Decreased circulation
- Digestion problems
- Misaligned spine
- Poor lung function
- Pinched or constricted nerves
- Distorted spinal curvirater
- Jaw pain
Talking about video games and health:
Staring at the screen for hours causes migraines. Even if you’re not playing, you’re at risk.
- Mild confusion
- Brain fog
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Nausea and vomiting
- A sensation of numbness in some parts of your body
Aggressive Behaviour and Mental Problems
Opinions on whether or not video games and aggressive behavior are connected differ.
According to some reports, violent games boost aggressive thoughts, both in laboratory settings and in real life. Others show no connection between the two. If you look at fighting options like Mortal Kombat, you’ll see why parents think video games are bad.
There are criminals who sometimes cite violent video games as inspiration for their wrongdoings. Of course, there’s the possibility they’d act the same way without ever picking up a controller.
Video game releases are now marked for violence to ensure nothing like this takes place.
What Are the Benefits of Gaming?
Gaming often gets more hate than it deserves.
People tend to dismiss video games as the domain of couch potatoes. But the truth is, many common elements of gaming can have tangible benefits in real life.
So, are video games good for you?
Let’s take a look:
Gaming improves coordination.
It’s actually vital in a first-person shooter game. Playing over and over again is a surefire way to improve your hand-eye coordination. Think of it as training to improve your reactions in real life.
That’s definitely a positive video game effect.
In fact, gamers performed better than others in keeping a virtual vehicle inside a straight lane.
If you’re looking for the best way to improve this skill, giving a virtual reality game a run is a great idea.
Numerous scientific game studies have found out that this hobby can boost your creativity and problem-solving skills. This is another great example of how video games are good for you.
Among the benefits of gaming is also learning to work in a team. It forms strong bonds between players. We’ll elaborate on that later.
Millions of people play action real-time strategy games. In order to win, you have to stay focused.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that improved concentration is among the positive effects of video games.
Experts have confirmed that video games can be used for that exact purpose in education or military training.
Gaming also boosts your performance in visually demanding activities like driving or looking for someone’s face in a crowd.
Fighting and paying attention to your cooldowns in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) requires multitasking. So do fighting, looking at the map, and after your resources.
It’s safe to say gaming involves a lot of multitasking.
So, if you were wondering why video games are good for you, here’s another argument.
Older adults who participated in studies have managed to become more effective at multitasking by playing video games for just a month.
This is a remarkable result considering how quickly performance can decline with age. Playing video games is a great way to fight that.
There’s a lot that can be learned through video games. Whether you’re an adult or a kid, you can discover something new.
If you were looking for more positive effects of video games, add this to your list.
Just look at it this way - video games promote technology exploration.
You can also learn a myriad of things that might come in handy in real life. Those include everything from everyday stuff in life simulation games like The Sims 4 to survival tricks in The Forest.
People who are into video games are also more likely to explore programming and video game design. Sometimes, this may even help an individual decide on their career.
So, do video games make you smarter?
Everything we mentioned above suggests the answer is yes.
If you need more proof, studies have confirmed that games are connected to higher grey matter volume in the brain. But more on that later.
Not so long ago, both players had to be physically there to enter the multiplayer mode. Even then, many games encouraged teamwork and collaboration.
Now, with online gaming, multiplayer video games have been taken to the next level. The emergence of cross-platform gameplay helped as well. Therefore, we can’t forget about teamwork when talking about the positive effects of video games.
Battle royale games like Fortnite have squad modes that are all about defeating other teams on the map together. And horror survival games such as 7 Days to Die require you to build a base with your teammates if you want to survive.
The Missouri University of Science and Technology confirmed this. Researchers found out that the ability to raid in groups successfully in WoW translates to success on virtual workplace teams.
This is just adding to the benefits of video games in times of social distancing.
How Video Games Affect the Brain
Numerous studies have been conducted on the subject. Experts agree that gaming causes brain changes.
Scientists from the Faculty of Health Sciences in Spain and Laboratory for Neuropsychiatry and Neuromodulation in the US have recently published their own two cents:
The effects of video games on the brain are visible in both structure and performance. Gamers are better at concentrating on demanding tasks than non-gamers. They also have an enlarged right hippocampus. In addition, their regions of the brain responsible for focus required less activation to operate.
The same scientists also looked at the negative effects of video games on the brain.
They found functional and structural changes in the neural reward system in gaming addicts. The studies included exposing them to game-related cues which ended up causing strong cravings. Experts monitored brain responses the whole time.
Scientists did say, however, that how the brain reacts to video games doesn’t necessarily translate to real-life changes.
Researchers from the Chinese University of Electronic Science and Technology and the Australian Macquarie University also presented their results. They show examples of how playing video games is good for your brain.
By comparing MRI scans of both gaming enthusiasts and non-gamers, they found a correlation between this hobby and an increased grey matter volume in the brain. The results also showed that better connectivity in this region also leads to faster thought processes and higher intelligence. So, yeah, gaming can make you smarter.
Are video games bad for you?
They do have confirmed negative effects.
But will they affect you if you’re a casual gamer? Hardly so.
So, are video games good for you?
Scientists have also discovered plenty of positive sides. Improved focus, better multitasking skills, team-building opportunities - it’s not all bleak, as you can see.
Whether you play on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, or on your gaming phone, it’s all about keeping it a hobby.
Are video games harmful to your health?
Are video games bad for your brain?
How many hours of video games is unhealthy?
Dejan is a techie at heart who always dreamed of turning his fascination with gaming into a career. He finds working for TechJury a perfect opportunity to express his views of all kinds of different software. Being an avid reader, particularly of fantasy and sci-fi, Dejan pursued a degree in English Language and Literature. When not at his computer, he’s watching sports or playing tabletop games.
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