The Negative Health Impact of Excessive Gaming
According to some estimates, about half of the American population, which is about 164 million Americans, play one type of video game or the other. Some people erroneously believe that gaming is the exclusive practice of the teen. A recent survey has proven this wrong. According to the survey, a little more than one-fifth of gamers (21%) are under 18 year olds.
It’s important to remember that as with most walks of life; gaming, in moderation, can be used to improve your cognitive and memory skills, as well as improve your reaction times. This can be beneficial in most walks of gaming, from some of the casinos and games you can find at Casimple to playing in professional tournaments and everything in between.
Although gaming is gradually gaining ground as a hobby and a competitive sport in some colleges across the country, it poses some health risks, especially, for gamers who spend too much time indulging in video games. What are these health impacts of excessive gaming? What practical tips can help you avoid the side effects of spending too much time gaming?
Is there a good side to gaming?
It is good to know that gaming isn’t all about harm, it is also beneficial. Let’s discuss some of its benefits.
Gaming is a fun pastime and of course, can be extremely entertaining. These aside, it also offers people an opportunity to interact and connect with each other and thereby create a virtual community where people can pull their resources together to complete some common tasks.
Gaming can be the antidote to the loneliness epidemic ravaging the world as it enables people to connect with others, even across the globe. People can connect with grandkids, kids, and other people that may otherwise be difficult to connect with. It is also an avenue to connect with autistic children who have challenges with communicating via the traditional communication modes.
Some researches also highlight the cognitive benefits of gaming such as improved spatial reasoning and improved attention, although the potential real-life application of such benefits outside the gaming world is yet unclear.
More so, video games are great tools for training people with some special conditions such as degenerative disease to improve their balance. Surgeons can also learn how to handle complicated operations with ease in addition to improve the thinking skills of adolescents struggling with ADHD.
People who engage in activities involving using the tendons or muscles repeatedly are prone to overuse or repetitive stress injuries. Such injuries, if not swiftly treated, can result in inflammation and pain. Weakness and numbness may also result from the untreated injuries while the victim is prone to permanent injuries too. Sadly, this problem is common among gamers.
Many gamers have developed a special type of injury: carpal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome that causes the wrist nerve to become inflamed is common among office workers and can cause numbness and pain too.
Another common injury is known as gamers' thumbs. This injury goes by some other names such as nintendonitis or nintendinitis during the Nintendo era. It is also commonly referred to as PlayStation thumb. It is associated with the inflammation of the tendons that are responsible for moving the thumb.
Medically, gamers' thumb is known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, a medical condition that can result in limited movement and inflammation.
Gamers are also prone to stenosing tenosynovitis or trigger fingers. This is a medical condition that is characterized by the finger getting permanently bent as a result of chronic inflammation.
Tennis elbow is a common injury too. Somewhere outside the elbow, the tendon connects with the bone. When this place is inflamed, tennis elbow arises.
Gaming tees also run the risk of obesity, same as adults. This is attributed to the sedentary lifestyle of most gamers as they sit in front of their screens for hours with little or no exercise to keep them active.
Increased food consumption while playing games is another factor responsible for the weight gain. A study reported by the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when adult males play video games, they tend to consume more food than they would naturally do. Playing video games is a mental exercise that probably activates the player’s reward center, thereby triggering increased food take. Alternatively, the signals indicating fullness may be impaired, making them consume more food.
Gamers also complain about poor sight or vision problems such as eye strain, a medical condition that may result in poor concentration or headache. Seizures are also common too.
Psychological problems can also arise from gaming. However, it is yet unknown whether Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) or video game addiction is unique to players. The American Psychological Association reported that IGD victims may experience any of the following medical conditions within a year:
- Downplaying use.
- Gaming preoccupation.
- Loss of control.
- Loss of educational opportunities.
- Gaming as an escape route for guilt, anxiety, and what have you.
- Inability to stop gaming, even when struggling with psychosocial problems.
- Gaming at the expense of other recreational activities.
- Loss of relationship or career opportunities.
A study by the American Journal of Psychiatry revealed that internet gaming disorder is common among Americans, with between 0.3% and 1% Of Americans struggling with such disorders. Some of the proposed treatment of this disorder includes cognitive behavioral therapy, warning on the packaging, and sensitization campaign, among other public health approaches. The quest to find a solution to these disorders has gained support from the Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous, among other support groups. They are helping with treating gaming addicts by leveraging the combined power of the different support groups willing to help with fighting the battle.
Other medical conditions that gaming addicts are vulnerable to include insomnia, sleep deprivation, aggression, circadian rhythm disorders, anxiety, and depression, although there are ongoing studies that are dedicating to establishing the connection between these problems and gaming.
Teens and young adults that devote too much time to playing extreme violent video games may unconsciously become desensitized to the danger of violence. The prolonged exposure can trigger emotional problems that may subsequently make them commit the violence they are exposed to regularly.
Moderation is the key to overcoming the potential harms inherent in playing video games excessively. Most of these challenges can be mitigated, if they can’t be completely avoided. The rule is reducing the amount of time spent playing the game each day, engaging in exercising and other healthy activities that will undone the harm done by sitting in front of the screen for hours on end.
Gamers can also substitute real-life socializing for virtual socializing by connecting with people in real life. The injuries they are vulnerable to can also be mitigated with the right education. They need the right education on the best way to protect their wrists, thumbs, waistlines, and elbows from the danger of repetitive stress injury. They also need to know the best way to manage their sleep and emotional state. Some helpful tips include stretching, taking breaks, and consuming healthy snacks while gaming, icing their thumbs and resting when necessary can do much too.
Gamers can protect their eyes by implementing the 20-20-20 rule. This rule stipulates that gamers should try to look at an object 20 feet away from them for 20 seconds after playing for 20 minutes.
It goes without saying that playing video games is a good way to engage in social and fun activity, provided it is done moderately. Gamers should combine gaming with a healthy lifestyle by consuming good food, having enough sleep, and exercising.