Are Video Games Really Bad for You?

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We all love video games. They allow for us to escape our own worlds and have fantastic adventures, defeats and triumphs in worlds much more exciting than our own. But do they have an adverse effect on how we view the world? Or do they possibly just block us from getting out and enjoying that world? And what about our kids? Does constant gaming have any long term effects on them? We’re going to get to the bottom of the video game question once and for all – are Video Games Really Bad for you? 

Weigh the Pros and Cons

At face value, video games are not bad for people. They’ve been proven even to release stress, improve hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind’s ability to process information. But as with anything in life, there really can just be too much of a good thing. 

Excessive video game use can detract from other activities or obligations one needs to get done. You might not be getting enough of your daily amount of exercise because you played video games during the free time you had scheduled out to go to the gym. Or perhaps, you could have got a headstart on some projects at work and instead decided to devote that time finishing a level on your new game. Like anything else in life, the amount of time devoted to a certain activity is directly related to how little time you have for other things. It is important to consider time management and what tasks or obligations are required of you before you sit down to play. 

Maybe your video game time can help you with those obligations rather than distract you from them. Perhaps you allow yourself an hour of gaming for every hour you spend active that week or only if your apartment or house is clean. If you have a family, it is even more important to be conscious of your video game use and time management. Spending time with your child should trump spending time in front of your screen. Though, if the game is age-appropriate, playing video games together can be a fun way for you and your child to work as a team and have fun. Using your video game time as a reward for hard work, rather than an escape from it is a very helpful strategy to optimize your limited free time and ensure you have a well-rounded life. 

Know the Signs

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If you find that you can not control your gaming habits or how much time you devote to it, it is possible you are suffering from what researchers have called “Internet gaming disorder.” Researchers have discovered that video gaming can be addictive, just like cigarettes, alcohol or gambling. For gaming addicts, scientists have discovered functional and structural alterations in the gamer’s brain’s neural reward system. The neural reward system is a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, learning, and motivation.  When exposed to game-related cues, video game addicts displayed similar cravings to that of other addictive disorders. In addition, extended time in front of a screen can cause eye strain and stress which over time can cause permanent damage to the eye. If you are playing video games with scenes close to your face, perhaps consider wearing blue light glasses to shield your eyes from the light’s harmful effects. 

There are a lot of differing opinions and statements pro and against video games. Many of these claims come with little to no actual scientific evidence and are just stating things that bolster their own belief systems. There has been a lot of talk amongst parents worried that playing violent video games or too much screen time can cause permanent effects or ADHD in their children. None of these concerns are backed by much science. The truth of the matter is that most of the on-screen violence does not correlate into the real world. Because a child plays a first-person shooter game for fun does not predispose the child for a violent future. In fact, violence among youths have actually dropped since the emergence of video games even as their use has soared. The truth is that the science of video games’ effect on humans is still yet to be determined. More experiments and research needs to be done before any actual definitive statements can be made one way or another. It is true that video games can help with focus and coordination but it can also be abused as an escape from real-life if not regulated. It’s important to consider balance in your life. Perhaps on the weekends you can grab a Fenix Flashlight and go for a hike with your family to enjoy the great outdoors rather than spending it entirely in front of a screen. Just like having your favorite sugary snack, enjoying things in moderation can make them that much better in the long run.