How gaming positively affects our mental health? The gaming industry has risen exponentially in the past two decades. Most of it can be credited to the increase in the availability of devices like desktops, laptops, or mobile devices, as well as the boom of the internet. According to the latest stats, there are approximately 3.24 billion people who enjoy playing games throughout the world. With the popularity of gaming, the esports scene (professional gaming tournaments) has also boomed. Gaming fans and players like to watch skilled gamers perform on stages, providing entertaining moments similar to traditional sports.
While gaming can be a fun distraction or hobby, there are also some concerns regarding gaming as people can get addicted/hooked easily to it. There are also health risks, especially when people play games too long (common in professional esports). Let us take a look at how gaming can affect our mental health in both positive and negative ways.
How gaming positively affects our mental health?
Gaming provides a high degree of entertainment. Many people consider it a fun way to pass their time. It also provides an avenue that allows people to interact with each other, forming a virtual community to play together and complete in-game tasks. As humans, we find it hard to exist alone, which is why we live in society. Gaming is a channel that can allow one to connect with people from all walks of life, kids, teenagers, adults, or even disabled individuals without any difficulties.
There has also been mixed research that shows that gaming helps us develop our mind’s cognitive abilities. Playing games can help you better control your focus and improve your sense of spatial reasoning. The effects are not so clearly visible but long-term practice does help in some way. Nowadays, video games are also utilized in the domain of medical practice. From helping people experience new environments to soothe their mental health to training those with degenerative diseases to improve their balance. Even kids and young adolescents with ADHD can improve their thinking skills if proper gaming tools are used.
Downsides to mental health from gaming
There are also various studies that show that prolonged gaming can adversely affect our mental health and even lead to some psychological problems. Many in the medical field consider video game addiction or internet gaming disorder (IGD) as a syndrome that is becoming more prevalent in today’s population. If we take into consideration the definition used by the American Psychological Association, gaming disorder is experienced when at least five of the following nine points are fulfilled:
- Playing games for too many hours, disrupting one’s schedule
- Withdrawal from society
- Becoming increasingly irritated easily
- Loss of interest in other activities
- Downplaying the issue
- Loss of a relationship, educational, or career opportunities due to it
- Using gaming as a means to escape or relieve anxiety, guilt, or other negative mood states
- Failure to control oneself when not gaming
- Stubbornly play games even when one has psychosocial and health problems.
Gaming addiction can also play a part in the formation of other health problems like sleep deprivation, insomnia, and circadian rhythm disorders, depression, aggression, and anxiety. There has also been a rising concern among some people that exposure to the extreme violence featured in video games can desensitize teens and young adults. Although there is no substantial evidence to support this theory, most acts of violence committed by young people are attributed to gaming by the mainstream media.
Hence while gaming can entertain and help us to enjoy our time with others, it is also important to perform it in moderation. It makes sure that our mental health is not negatively affected by getting addicted to it.