Conventional wisdom stipulates that video games are best consumed in moderation. As most parents would argue, children should have their video game intake—along with their overall time in front of a computer or TV screen—limited to two hours per day or less. While debates have long raged as to whether video games contribute anything useful to society, the general consensus basically equates them to junk food; alright in small doses, but unhealthy beyond a certain point. Understandably, this has proved a popular subject for essay and research paper assignments.
Of all the arguments surrounding games, the most empirically valid are those that call into question the health-related effects of hours spent at the joystick. After all, concerns about the social merits of gaming amount to moral speculation at best, whereas matters of physical health are down to a science. From the latter angle, there are significant reasons to be concerned about the effects that video games can have on the health of children. This sample health paper explores research conducted on children who play too many video games.
Problems associated with video game dependency
Health problems related to excessive video game-playing can range from overeating and obesity to physical strain on the hands, back, and neck. With some of the most avid players, gaming has been known to be addictive. Researchers have claimed for decades that violent video games have a negative impact on children. But the physical health risks are just now being explored.
For players with epilepsy, frantic game-playing can provoke seizures. Excessive gaming can even have ill-effects on a player’s mental health. In some of the most extreme cases, video-game-addiction has led to murder and suicide. In most studies concerning the ill-effects of video-game addiction, the focus has been on prepubescent and adolescent boys.
Various monikers have been attributed to game-related ailments, including Nintendinitis and PlayStation thumb, though none of these have come to be scientifically recognized as unique diseases. Of all the gaming consoles on the market, the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation have been most frequently linked with excessive-player problems. The physical effects of addictive playing can range from shoulder stiffness caused by poor sitting posture and strenuous arm movements; to black under-eye rings resulting from inadequate amounts of sleep.
Regarding the psychological ramifications of game addiction, heaps of literature have explored its possible ties to depression and belligerent behavior, particularly in young males, though studies on the matter have been contradictory and inconclusive. Nonetheless, the problematic signs of compulsive gaming are such that President Obama deemed the phenomenon as sedentary and unhealthy during a 2009 address to the American Medical Association.
Studies on the musculoskeletal consequences of excess gaming
In surveys, children will often acknowledge certain physical discomforts related to games and consoles, such as pain in the head, neck, back, and upper extremities. In a 2005 questionnaire of 476 New York City children who exhibited addictive behaviors towards video games, it was found that boys and girls experienced body pain due to game playing and general computer use.
The study concluded that much of this was down to the body mechanics of children, which tend to differ from that of adults. The solutions proposed for this problem included adult instructions on seating posture, ergonomic adjustments to computer spaces, and the encouragement of stretches and relaxation periods between games (Ramos).
Nintendonitis and gamers
The game-related condition informally known as Nintendonitis is typically caused by overuse of small joysticks and described as a repetitive strain injury that doctors have attributed as far back as 2000 to the increased prevalence of computers in homes and schools (Macgregor). With the advent of balance boards, foot injuries have also been known to result from gaming. A 2010 case involving the fracture of a player’s fifth metatarsal was dubbed Wii Fracture after the namesake board.
In 2012, Finnish researchers conducted a study that sought to legitimize the physical condition known as Nintendonitis and pinpoint possible links between excessive gaming and musculoskeletal symptoms among adolescents. A questionnaire on the topic was handed to 436 school children in the 12-13 and 15-16 age brackets. Pain and inconvenience levels were measured in regards to musculoskeletal issues in the eyes, neck, shoulders, back, hands, fingers, and wrists.
The answers were divided into categories of none, mild, and severe regarding frequency and intensity. Of the more frequent gamers surveyed, more than 20 percent reported severe pains, both intense and inconvenient, in the neck, head, and shoulder areas. Ultimately, the researchers found that gaming in excess of two hours per day can heighten the risk of strain and discomfort in the utilized areas of the body (Hakala).
Back in the late 1990s, Belgian researchers were investigating whether video-game playing produced higher levels of physical stress than more idle forms of screen viewing. In a 1999 study, a series of yes/no questions regarding lower-back pain was handed to 392 Antwerp nine-year-olds, who also underwent lumbar spine examinations. Thirty-six percent of the children surveyed claimed to have experienced lower-back pain on at least one occasion, and most of those same respondents had also reported playing video games for more than two hours per day. By contrast, children who favored television over games were less likely to experience pain in their lower backs (Gunzburg).
Is one of your assignments related to this? Ultius essay writing services has your back!
The correlation between video game addiction and weight gain
Numerous studies have also shown a link between video game dependency and obesity in children. In a 2006 Portuguese study of 3,365 children ages 7-9, the parents were handed a questionnaire about the habits of their young, such as a number of weekly hours spent on a gaming console, computer, or television screen versus the amount of time spent engaged in physical activity.
According to the results, the correlation between obesity and excessive time spent gaming was far higher than with other types of sedentary screen consumption, especially for boys (Carvalhal). A similar study conducted in Germany found that boys who limited their daily gaming to 90 minutes were significantly less likely to develop weight problems than those who exceeded that threshold.
The correlation between weight gain and gaming addiction has led researchers to ask whether the sedentary habit of video-game playing leads to increased food consumption. In 2011, a study of 22 weight-height proportional males in their mid-teens was done in hopes of answering this question. The boys were observed in the acts of the gameplay, rest, and eating lunch.
It was found that excessive gaming caused eating disorders among the children, most notably overeating or eating when not hungry, regardless of whether they were really hungry (Chaput). In an effort to remedy this matter, active game products like the Xbox Kinect and Wii have been designed to make games more physically active. Such products, however, have yet to show positive cardio or fat-burning results.
Exercise through video games
One of the most significant studies to have taken the active gaming industry to task was done at Baylor College of medicine in 2012. For the three-month study, researchers supplied Wii consoles to 84 children. Half the children were given virtual exercise games like EA Active, while the other half were given regular video games that could simply be played from a sofa.
The results of the study proved underwhelming; after 90 days, researchers found:
“no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general or at any time” than their inactive counterparts (Baranowski).
Apparently, there’s no way for these popular workout trends to replicate the physical benefits of exercise in the real world. Nonetheless, results like these have been a disappointment for parents, teachers, and marketers who’ve hoped to find an exercise alternative for children who live in areas that are too dangerous for street, park, or playground activities.
Other health concerns regarding video game addiction
When played in excess, video games have also been associated with eyesight problems. Truth be told, the elements of the eye—the cornea, iris, and pupil—are not designed for prolonged exposure to electronic widescreens. Consequently, long gaming sessions can lead to eyestrain and various types of nausea. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s the potential for video games to actually boost a viewer’s spatial capacity, both in terms of central and peripheral vision, all of which might prove to be of benefit to sufferers of lazy eye.
In all fairness, video games can offer plenty of advantages when played in moderation. Experienced gamers generally have faster response mechanisms, which can come in very handy in the real world, particularly in life or death situations. Gamers also tend to be precise at spotting details; a trait that ties in with advanced cognition. Furthermore, gamers have often shown the capacity to focus on multiple things at the same time; which generally comes with the territory of handling lots of screen action.
Would you like to participate in this discussion? Order an argumentative essay from Ultius today.
Ramos, Erlynn Mae Ang, et al. “Children’s computer usage: Are they at risk of developing repetitive strain injury?” IOS Press. STM Publishing House. 17 Aug. 2005. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Macgregor DM. “Nintendonitis? A case report of repetitive strain injury in a child as a result of playing computer games.” PubMed.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Oct. 2000. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Hakala, Paula T., et al. “Musculoskeletal symptoms and computer use among Finnish adolescents – pain intensity and inconvenience to everyday life: a cross-sectional study.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. BioMed Central Ltd. 22 March 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Gunzburg, R., et al. “Low back pain in a population of school children.” European Spine Journal. Springer International Publishing AG. 8 Nov. 1999. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Carvalhal, Maria Mourão, et al. “Overweight and obesity related to activities in Portuguese children, 7–9 years.” The European Journal of Public Health.
Oxford University Press. 22 June 2006. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Chaput, Jean-Philippe, et al. “Video game playing increases food intake in adolescents: a randomized crossover study.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
American Society for Nutrition. 24 March 2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Baranowski, Tom, et al. “Impact of an Active Video Game on Healthy Children’s Physical Activity.” Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.