Video Games: Are They Harmful?
Technology has come a long way in the last 50 years. So much so that video games today look almost nothing like the games you or your parents may remember. The days of blowing on cartridges and 2-D graphics are virtually nonexistent. Today, you can expect to see expansive animations and graphics that are meant to captivate, and in some cases, allow gamers to feel immersed in a fantasy world. Most children today have played or owned some type of video game, and you will find many adults who play in their free time.
But is it causing damage to mental health and developing minds? After years of research, there may be an answer! Read on to find out.
Video games are a popular pastime used to decompress from a stressful day. Both students and working adults can agree that sometimes, you just need to check out for the day! But how much is too much? Are you still developing healthy social support systems through friends and family?
In 2020, it was estimated that over 2 billion people worldwide play video games. And on average, there is at least one gamer in 75% of American households.
Unfortunately, the reality is that video games are massively popular. And like all popular activities, for some, this can quickly spiral into an unhealthy obsession and addictive disorder that can cause real issues in their lives.
There is no current scientific consensus on when the line blurs from overuse and into addiction. However, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has classified “Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD)” as a potential diagnosis requiring further review.
Signs Of Video Game Addiction
Identify concerning behaviors:
- Are they isolating from family and friends?
- Do they lie about how often they play video games?
- Are they upset and irritable when they’re not playing video games?
- Do they skip meals and avoid activities they previously enjoyed?
- Are they developing physical problems from too much game time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches and eye strain?
Can Video Games Help Mental Health?
You may be surprised to learn that according to a survey performed in 2020, only 21% of those playing video games were under 18 years old.
Video games are no longer considered geeky or taboo for adults. In fact, many video game developers now target the 18+ crowd! But why are they so popular with adults? It’s simple: escape.
Especially during the turbulence we’ve all experienced over the past few years, we all have sought a way to turn our brains off for a bit. Sourdough starters were popular for a while, and staple hobbies like gardening and reading are sure to be a popular pastime even still.
According to this study performed in 2021, video games being an accessible option for most people may actually help improve mental health! They saw positive impacts on:
- Covid-19 related feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and depression
- Emotional regulation
Team-based games can foster a sense of community. Strategy games can provide mental stimulation and improve cognitive abilities. Many types of video games exist, and they can create positive outcomes in those who participate!
Video Games: Yay Or Nay?
Consuming too much of anything can have negative impacts on your health. When we’re young, we don’t fully understand what too much of a seemingly good thing can do long-term. That’s why establishing family time with kids and friends, and not on a screen, can be beneficial!
But video games aren’t something to be demonized, either. While excessive gaming can be associated with obesity, fitness games are also on the rise!
The key is ensuring you and your children are enjoying all things in moderation!
If you are concerned about someone’s behavioral health, let them know that CCMH is here and would love to help. Our Behavioral Health Services can diagnose and treat a variety of mental health struggles and illnesses. Reach out!
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Addiction Center. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/video-game-addiction/
JMIR Publications. https://games.jmir.org/2021/2/e26575
Tech Radar. https://www.techradar.com/news/best-fitness-games