Note: This article contains affiliate links (hyperlinks, widgets, or through images), which means I receive compensation if you purchase a product through them. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. Visit my disclosure page for more information.
Do you play video games? Do your kids? Have you given much thought to how they may be affecting your life? Have you ever wondered, are video games hurting your health?
There are, in fact, over 160 million adults (this doesn’t even count kids and teens) in the country who play video games, with 75% of households having at least one gamer in their home. Do you feel like video games have an impact on our lives and our health? You might be surprised to learn that video games do affect your health. You may be shocked, though, to learn just how they impact it.
Video and Your Health
While there are a lot of adults that do play video games, many of us do not. If you aren’t a gamer, but you are a parent whose child likes to play video games, you may be curious as to gaming’s effect on health.
Or maybe you play games regularly, but you are becoming health conscious and wondering if you should continue. If you are looking into whether or not you or your child should play video games, do not stress.
We did a little bit of research for you to help you make this decision for yourself or your family.
Why Do People Play Video Games?
In a recent study by the Entertainment Software Association, shows that people who play video games often have very specific reasons why they play, or why they allow their children. For example, 79% of the people surveyed say that video games increase their mental stimulation. 78% say that it provides relaxation and stress relief.
When it comes to their children, parents have other reasons to allow games in the house.
For example, 74% of parents feel that playing games are an educational experience for kids.
Other parents like to sit back and relax in their favorite gaming chair and bond with their kiddos. Half of the parents surveyed enjoy playing video games with their children every week as a means of quality time together.
What are the Health Effects of Video Games?
The Hippocampus is part of the brain that is known for its association with stress regulation, memory, and spatial navigation. According to a study published in Molecular Psychiatry, people who play first-person shooter games will experience a shrinkage in this area of the brain. Those who play more light-hearted games, such as Mario Brothers, experience the opposite effect on this part of the brain.
As a part of this study, participants were hooked up to MRI machines while playing these two different kinds of games. It was discovered that the people who play the first-shooter games end up with lost gray matter in the Hippocampus, while there is growth in gray matter with the lighter-hearted games.
Seizure Disorder Effects
The risk of seizures for individuals who have experienced photosensitive epileptic seizures is increased while playing or watching games that include patterns of intense repetition and flickering lights and rapid scene changes. For those with this seizure condition, the games played should be monitored closely.
Additionally, many of these games will have a warning either on the case or in the game itself of the possible photosensitive epileptic seizure risk.
Yes, there are concerns about video game addictions, but this is not something that every person is at risk of. Addictions generally happen to a player who is already prone to addiction-type behaviors.
While not everyone will be affected by this, it is imperative to pay attention. Lookout for the signs in yourself or in your loved one that is a gamer.
Hand-Eye Coordination and Memory Effects
There is evidence that playing video games is actually beneficial to a person’s hand-eye coordination.
Also, just like how someone who always has their favorite AirPod waterproof case in their pocket so they can listen to music on a whim, video games also strengthen short term memory.
Pain Management Effects
Believe it or not, video games are a useful tool in pain management. Playing a game can distract the player from the pain of injury or illness.
For example, NCBI published the account of a young child who suffered from neurodermatitis, and the act of playing the game kept the child from picking at his face. This was the first treatment to have been successful for the patient.
They have also proven helpful in decreasing nausea and pain for cancer patients going through chemotherapy.
So, are video games hurting your health?
As you can see, there are mixed reactions to the question of whether or not video games are hurting your health.
Most studies done on this topic implies that there is not enough evidence to suggest that the effects of gaming are negative enough that it should be avoided. There is evidence, though, to show that you should pay close attention to what games you play, as they can affect your health to some degree.
What is your experience with this? Have you found video games helpful or harmful in your health?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.