Mental and Physical Effects of Video Game Addiction

Mar 17, 2024

Video games are an extremely popular hobby for a lot of people. Whether it be games played on a personal computer (PC) or consoles like PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch, gaming is a huge part of American culture. The biggest demographic are ages 18+, which comprise 76% of U.S. gamers.

While video games can be a healthy source of socializing with friends and entertainment, there are also negative consequences of playing video games for too long. Video game addiction is real and can be compared to alcoholism. Not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic, and not everyone who plays video games is a video game addict (Unity Health). However, according to Addiction Help, video game addiction is said to affect between 1.7%-10% of all Americans. Mental and physical effects from video game addiction are serious and need to be recognized.

Short-Term Physical Effects

Short term physical effects of a video game addiction include:

  • Hunger

  • Fatigue

  • Missing out on social events with friends and family

  • Eye strain

  • Neck and back problems

Long-Term Physical Effects

Some long-term physical effects include: 

  • Sleep disorders

  • Health related issues due to their poor diet

  • Repetitive stress or overuse injuries from playing too many games (i.e, carpal tunnel syndrome)

  • Obesity

  • Weakness or numbness in the hands 

  • Blood clots 

Mental/Psychological Effects of Video Game Addiction

Violent games are a very popular genre of video games. When playing video games, the brain processes scenarios as if they are real. Therefore, when a character is in perceived danger within the game, the player’s brain is in “fight-or-flight” because of intense and violent exposure. According to Mayo Clinic Health, excessive video game use can lead to the brain being in a constant state of hyperarousal. This can lead to difficulties paying attention, managing emotions, controlling impulses, following directions, and tolerating frustration (Mayo Clinic). Hyperarousal also can lead to struggles with compassion and creativity as well as a decreased interest in learning.

Overuse of video games is associated with negative mental health outcomes such as anxiety and depression. Other mental health effects include low self-esteem and low self-efficacy per Family Addiction Specialist. 

What are the Effects of Video Games on Children?

Video game playing starts at a very early age in the United States. Video games can have positive benefits on children’s brains such as improving cognitive function like memory, attention and decision-making skills. Problem-solving and strategy skills can be developed while playing console or PC games. 

However, it is important to understand that there are negative effects of video games on children. Children’s exposure to video games, especially violent ones, put them at a significant risk for aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence and nightmares per Unity Point. This could lead to poor mental health outcomes for children down the road. 

Other Harmful Effects of Video Game Addiction

Some other harmful effects of video game addiction include the inability to financially support oneself. Addicted gamers spend less time focusing on their education and career and instead invest in their gaming. Video game addicts could fail out of school because they are not attending class or doing any required schoolwork.

Furthermore, it may be hard to form meaningful relationships, including finding a significant other. Addicts spend the majority of their time playing video games, which leads to little time in finding/spending time with a partner. 

How to Treat Video Game Addiction

There are some options for treatment when dealing with video game addiction. The main treatment option for video game addiction is psychotherapy (talk therapy). Psychotherapy aims to identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts and behaviors, per Cleveland Clinic. A mental health specialist can provide guidance and support to help one through their troubling addiction.

Specific types of psychotherapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in which addicts will understand how their thoughts affect their actions. Another type of psychotherapy is group therapy where people will gather to discuss their problems. This motivates and provides moral support for those struggling.

Gaming Addiction help and resources

If you or someone you know has a gaming problem, there are specialized resources available to help. Birches Health believes cost should not get in the way of receiving treatment from some of the best specialists in the nation. For affordable, personal and confidential treatment email hello@bircheshealth.com.


SOURCES:

Gamer Demographics from 2024: No Longer a Men-Only Club

Video Game Addiction Symptoms, Causes, Effects & Therapy | PsychGuides.com

Video Game Addiction: Signs, Effects and Treatment

Video games and screen addiction - Mayo Clinic Health System

Video Games, Mental Health, and Addiction – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Video Game Addiction Statistics

The health effects of too much gaming

The Impact of Video Games on Your Child's Brain and Behavior | Healthy Gamer

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