Video games can be super entertaining and a great way to pass the time. But, there are many ways, both good and bad, that video games can affect you. It’s important to understand your limits and what you can do to keep a healthy balance.
Gaming makes it possible to play in a way that has never been done before. Computer games, web based games, smartphone games, game consoles (like Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo) and games on social media are all available for entertainment. The goals and awards you earn while playing a game can make people spend a lot of time at it, sometimes too much time.
There has been a lot of debate about whether video games are good for people or not. We don’t have enough research yet to know the answer, but we can say that video games are used for a number of different reasons. People use video games to:
- help them cope with stress and difficult situations
- make and build friendships
- increase problem solving skills, logic and memory that may help keep your brain sharp while aging
- figure out what they are good at (e.g. if you have like puzzles based of puzzles games, games that involve strategy, dancing or rhythm games)
There may be good reasons for gaming, but when someone games too much, it can be bad for their health. When this happens, a person may develop an unhealthy relationship with gaming. If you think you might be gaming too much, there are a few things to watch out for.
- You lose track of time when gaming. Sometimes if a level gets too good, you might spend a bit longer than you planned to finish it. If this happens often, you might need to limit your time playing.
- You lose sleep because of games. If you stay up too late playing games, it might affect your sleep. Sleep is important to have enough energy throughout the day for school, work, or other activities.
- Games take over other activities in your life. Sometimes gaming can start to become more important to you than other activities like school, extracurricular activities, or time with friends or family. In that case you may need to think about how you manage your time. Talk to a trusted family member or peer support worker if you think you might need support. If you decide to talk to a friend about gaming, choose carefully because some friends may want to continue gaming with you.
Tips to Manage your Gaming Habits
Plan your time.
Before you start, it’s a good idea to put a time limit on how long you want to be gaming. You should think about what you’ll be doing in the game and make a realistic time limit. If you know you’ll be doing that might take a while (like a boss battle or difficult level) this may be something to work on.
Stop gaming at the right time.
Video games are made to suck up our time, and they certainly can do that, no matter how much we plan for it. If this happens, make sure you have ways to stop from gaming for too long. You can set a timer and put it away from your gaming area, so that when it goes off you have to get up to turn it off. You can also ask someone to help keep you accountable and remind you to stop playing at a certain time.
(Tip: Don’t ask a gamer friend to keep you accountable, they may want to continue gaming with you)
What’s around you?
Think about the environment that you game in. Do you have good posture on a well-designed, comfortable chair? Maybe add some cushioning to ease pain in your neck and back or use a chair with armrests. Have the lights on while you’re gaming as well (especially for you horror game players out there). Eye strain increases with bright colors and quickly changing images on the screen.
Take care of yourself.
Remember that you have your own needs too! It’s important to stay hydrated, eat healthy and get some exercise. The game is probably getting good, but it’s not going anywhere. Take some time to listen to what your body needs and take a break every half an hour to an hour.
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