For many years, parents have often wondered about the negative effects of video games on their children's health. Parents who are unfamiliar with this electronic hobby are prone to believing that playing video games can lead to:
- Loss of vision
- Decreased mental ability
- Aggression due to violent scenes and situations found in many video games
While there is an ongoing debate amongst researchers about the effects of video games on a person's health and well-being, one can attribute video gaming addiction to the following negative effects:
1. Sleep Deprivation
With work and school taking up a major portion of a person's time, many people are prone to sacrificing their precious time for sleep to squeeze in an extra hour or two for more video gaming. Video game addiction and prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can lead to insomnia, and can take a major toll on a person's health.
2. Disregard For Personal Hygiene
When people are engaged in video gaming for a majority of their day, personal hygiene is one of the first things to be overlooked. With little to no physical interaction with the outside world, video game addicts feel less compelled to take care of their personal grooming. This disregard for personal hygiene can lead to acne, dental diseases and other illnesses.
3. Isolation And Seclusion
Excessive video gaming can lead people to isolate or seclude themselves from friends and family. Their disregard for personal hygiene is just the start of their displacement from the real world and being in a social setting. Interaction within the video game takes precedence over interaction with anything or anyone else. Work, school, friends and family are neglected, and the addiction to video games intensifies as people refuse to spend their waking hours doing anything but playing video games.
Though many video game addicts might not realize it at first, depression can slowly seep in as they find themselves becoming enslaved by their addiction. It is only when they stop and think about what has become of their lives do they realize that there is something terribly wrong. Making matters worse, their only means of finding comfort is through the very thing causing their depression, creating a vicious cycle that can only be broken when they take back control of their lives.
Stress from video gaming addiction is commonly caused by the following scenarios:
- A person has become so obsessed with video games, their failures and pressure to achieve their goals within the video game cause excessive amounts of stress. What was once an outlet for fun and entertainment transforms into a catalyst for stress, anger and misery.
- A person comes to the realization that his or her life is in disarray because of video games, causing excessive amounts of stress. Unfortunately, the only way these people can cope with this stress is to continue to play video games, which is the source of the problem in the first place.
6. Arthritis And Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Playing video games excessively can lead to physical impairments like:
- Arthritis: Studies have suggested that years of video gaming can lead to issues on a person's thumbs later in life, especially because this area of the body is prone to osteoarthritis.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on a nerve in your wrist that allows feeling and movement in certain parts of your hand. This condition is likely to develop in those who perform repetitive motions in their hands and wrists, making video game addicts highly susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome.
7. Unhealthy Eating Habits
When video game addicts are too busy to take a shower or get enough hours of sleep, they're probably not too concerned about healthy eating habits. For most video game addicts, fast food and easy-to-prepare meals like frozen dinners are the meals of choice. Sugary sodas and energy drinks are also popular to keep up with the hours of late night gaming and sleep deprivation. These habits can lead to obesity, diabetes and other serious health conditions.
8. Aggressive Behavior
While many have argued that video games offer an acceptable outlet to release feelings of aggression, they have also shown to do the exact opposite, especially amongst those who have become addicted. The frustration and stress stemming from the addiction is compounded by depression, and may cause an individual to display unusual patterns of aggressive behavior towards anyone who disrupts their video game play.
9. Inactive Lifestyle
Video game addicts who devote every waking hour to their video games are living an inactive lifestyle. Sitting or lying down all day playing video games, combined with sleep deprivation and poor eating habits is a dangerous combination that can lead to stroke, heart disease and hypertension.
Denial and lying to cover up abnormal behavior is one of the first signs that a person's video gaming problem has become a full blown addiction. Video game addicts will often come up with excuses for their change in behavior and their unhealthy lifestyle. As the addiction worsens, they eventually begin lying to themselves, denying they have any problem at all.
Video gaming addiction may be harmful to a person's health and well-being, however, there are many studies that attribute video games to numerous positive effects they can have on a person. Increased motor skills, development of a person's cognitive ability and an outlet for aggression are just few of those positive effects. There are even video games that promote health and physical activity by requiring the player to physically move around the room to play like dance and sport simulators.
Playing video games can be a healthy hobby for anyone, just as long as they play in moderation. Look for any of the signs mentioned above to determine if someone close to you is becoming addicted to video games, and address the issue before it is too late.