Digital gaming is becoming increasingly popular among people of all ages. It draws almost half of the older American population and a much larger percentage of younger ones.
And while sports are considered healthy activity, digital gaming is not the same as physical. Unlike physical sports, digital gaming doesn't require you to get moving and burn calories. Instead, you end up sitting in a certain position for prolonged hours without interacting with other humans and maintaining adequate posture, both of which can have serious health consequences.
Overindulgence in digital games, particularly the online games played on the computer, is a leading cause of several health conditions, including musculoskeletal and vision problems, obesity, seizures. Surprisingly, it also affects your mental health and may lead to gaming disorder.
This post looks at six common disorders and diseases associated with gaming. Alongside, we also figure out what you can do about these health concerns.
Six Disorders and Diseases Associated with Digital Gaming
1. Vision Issues
Extensive digital gaming is associated with vision issues. When you stare at the screen for long hours every day, it can cause strain on all parts of your eye, including the cornea, iris, and pupil. It happens because human eyes are not biologically designed to view digital images from electronic sources constantly.
Because the visual system strains from constant staring at the screen, it can lead to headaches and dizziness. In some cases, severe headaches and a strained visual system can also lead to nausea and vomiting.
And while vision issues and strained visual systems are common side effects of extensive gaming, research also suggests that gamers have an enhanced spatial distribution of attention than non-gamers. So digital gaming may have a positive impact on the visual system of individuals with certain visual conditions such as amblyopia (also known as lazy eye), but for someone with a normal functioning visual system, extensive gaming can strain the visual system and may even weaken the eyes.
What to Do About It?
Here are some of the steps you can take to prevent and reduce vision issues associated with extensive gaming.
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
When spending a lot of time staring at the screen, make sure you follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break from your screen every 20 minutes to look at an object that’s placed 20 feet away and continue to do so for 20 seconds. If you are so engrossed in gaming that you may forget to take a break after 20 minutes, it’s always a good idea to set up a timer.
Wear Eyeglasses With an Anti-reflective Coating
The use of eyeglasses with an anti-reflective coating is another way to protect your eyes from the negative effects of screen glare.
Ensure Appropriate Lighting in the Room
While most gamers prefer otherwise, ensuring appropriate lighting in the room can reduce the strain on your eyes.
A monitor arm allows you to set your screen in the most comfortable position, which helps reduce eye strain.
2. Musculoskeletal Problems
Digital gaming is addictive as it serves as a temporary escape from real-life challenges. But did you know that extensive gaming is one of the leading causes of severe musculoskeletal problems, ranging from hands and wrist to neck, shoulder, and back?
Extensive gaming requires constant use of thumbs, hands, and wrist. Improper or overuse of any joints and ligaments can lead to strain and injury. When persistently used, the muscles, joints, and ligaments are more prone to wear and tear resulting from repetitive strain injury. Due to this reason, gamers are likely to experience health conditions such as gamer's thumb and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Moreover, gamers tend to get involved in the game to the extent that they do not care about their posture. You may have noticed that gamers tend to slouch while playing a computer game to feel more engaged with the game, but the position can be detrimental to their musculoskeletal system. Slouching while sitting can lead to muscle fatigue and ultimately poor posture. The implications of slouching can range from neck and shoulder strain to back pain, spinal dysfunction, and rounded shoulders.
What to Do About It?
If you are a gamer and are experiencing musculoskeletal problems, investing in ergonomic products from a reliable supplier like Flexispot can help resolve most of your posture-related concerns. However, to get the most benefit, you need to ensure that you put in the effort to maintain your posture to make the most of these ergonomic products.
Invest in an Ergonomic Gaming Chair
When you start gaming, it's important to invest in a comfortable seat that provides adequate support to your arms, back, buttocks, and neck. You can find several ergonomic gaming chairs made from different materials that may not add to your gaming skill but enhance your gaming experience.
Maintain Proper Posture While Sitting
Some gamers argue that they use ergonomic gaming chairs to avoid the musculoskeletal problems associated with extensive gaming. While ergonomic gaming chairs from reliable suppliers may prove beneficial in supporting your musculoskeletal system, if you do not sit in the chair in an appropriate posture, you will be still likely experience musculoskeletal problems. Hence, an ergonomic gaming chair and a proper posture are what you need to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems associated with extensive gaming.
Go for a Height Adjustable Gaming Desk
Prolonged sitting is a major cause of musculoskeletal problems. But you can avoid it by investing in a height-adjustable gaming desk that allows you to switch between standing and sitting without disturbing any of your gaming accessories.
While you can find several height adjustable gaming desks, the Electric Height Adjustable Gaming Desk - 48" W makes one of the best choices for a serious gamer. The desk offers comfort and flexibility without compromising on durability and functionality. The height-adjustable gaming desk can adjust the height with simple operations that can get the job done in less than 10 seconds. And the switch from standing to sitting is not only quick but is also super quiet, which means that you can make the changes to the desk’s height without creating distractions. Moreover, the Electric Height Adjustable Gaming Desk - 48" W offers a spacious desktop that is always what a gamer needs and features a simple to use control panel that allows you to adjust the desk's height seamlessly.
Use a Monitor Arm
As mentioned earlier, using a monitor arm allows you to set your screen to the most comfortable position, allowing you to adjust the angle, height, and depth of your screen. As a result, whether you are sitting or standing, using a monitor arm will improve your ergonomic posture and help reduce eye strain and other musculoskeletal problems.
3. Obesity and Over-Weight
Playing extensive digital games has also been associated with obesity. Individuals involved in extensive gaming lack physical activity and spend most of their time sitting, which eventually leads to weight gain as their bodies do not burn enough calories to keep them fit.
Moreover, research suggests a positive correlation between gaming and an increase in the intake of junk food. As gamers spend their time indulging in the game, their food intake increases regardless of their appetite, contributing to weight gain and obesity.
Another reason gamers are prone to obesity, and weight gain is slowed metabolism. When a person spends long hours in a sitting position, it slows down their metabolism, which eventually leads to weight gain.
What to Do About It?
For gamers experiencing obesity due to prolonged sitting, it's best to incorporate some level of physical activity in their everyday routine. If you find it difficult to go out of your home and work out, you can invest in fitness equipment that allows you to work out from the convenience of your home.
An interesting piece of fitness equipment that can be a perfect mate to your height adjustable standing desk is the Under Desk Bike V9U that can fit under your standing gaming desk while allowing you to be more active even while playing.
4. Hearing Problems
Most gamers use headphones while gaming which can also lead to hearing problems. The use of headphones blocks the noise from the outside world, but it results in exposure to high noise levels. Constant exposure to high noise levels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss, a permanent hearing problem associated with extensive gaming.
What to Do About It?
You can incorporate the following ways to protect your hearing while gaming.
Change Your System’s Master Volume
One of the ways to protect your heating while gaming is to adjust your computer's master volume, so you don't have to change the volume through your headphones repeatedly.
Switch Between the Use of Headphones and Speaker
Constant use of headphones can cause damage to your hearing, so you can switch between the use of headphones and speakers.
Do Not Exceed More than 85% Volume
Even if you have trouble hearing, never exceed the volume to more than 85%, as it can cause permanent damage to your hearing.
5. Epileptic Seizures
Most gamers may be unaware of this health condition, but extensive gaming can lead to gaming-induced seizures. The first incidence of a video game-induced seizure was reported in 1981, but similar less severe incidents continued to happen to date. While preliminary research indicates that extensive gaming can only cause seizures in individuals who already have a predisposition to epilepsy, additional research is required in this area.
What to Do About It?
If you have a predisposition to epilepsy, always consult your healthcare practitioner and talk about safe gaming practices. Moreover, it also helps to check the video game packaging as most video games include a warning on the package about flashing lights. You can avoid such games or wear an eye patch, but it's always best to consult your doctor.
6. Gaming Disorder
A relatively recent addition to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) is the gaming disorder described as a pattern of digital gaming behavior characterized by reduced control over gaming. Individuals who prioritize gaming over other activities to the extent that it starts affecting their daily lives, other interests, and individuals associated with gamers are known to have gaming disorders.
To diagnose this health condition, the healthcare practitioner will closely work with the patient and their close loved ones to assess the severity of the condition. For the disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern of the gamer must be severe enough to significantly affect the personal, social, and other important areas of the gamer’s life for at least 12 months.
What to Do About It?
Preventing and treating gaming disorders requires the use of multiple intervention strategies that involve educating the person about the negative consequences of gaming and involving the family and support system to improve the behavior. However, since it is a behavioral disorder, it requires intervention from a trained psychologist who can help the affected gamer develop a new lifestyle that doesn't revolve around gaming.
Gaming may be the favorite pass time of today's generation, but extensive gaming can lead to serious health consequences. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these negative implications. From using ergonomic products to taking care of the lighting and noise levels, you can take care of your health while enjoying your favorite pass time to its fullest.
To learn more about ergonomic products for gamers, check out our website today.