Playing video games is an enjoyable way to spend time, to express creativity or be challenged, and even learn new skills. It offers people a chance to de-stress after a long day, connect with others either in person or online by playing together, and possibly find a community of people with similar interests. All of these things can have a positive impact on our wellbeing and sense of belonging.
For the most part, spending time gaming is not likely to have a major impact on your health and wellbeing. However, there are some ways that gaming could begin to have an effect on other areas of your life, and it’s a good idea to check in on these things every once in a while.
Remember, avoid sharing too much personal information, such as your full name, address or location, email, or phone number, when you are chatting to people online while you’re gaming – try to stick to gaming strategies in your conversations.
How do you know if you have a problem with gaming?
Here are some of the ways gaming can begin to have a negative impact:
Gaming affects your sleep
It can sometimes be difficult to walk away from a game, and you might find your adrenaline is running high if you go to bed after a fast-paced game, making it difficult to sleep. This can become a problem if you find you are struggling with sleep most nights, and you are choosing to stay up late into the night to play rather than go to bed.
Sleep is incredibly important for our physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re missing out on sleep, it can make you feel groggy during the day, and begin to have an impact on other activities such as school, college, or work.
It’s important to give yourself some time from the end of when you game before you try to go to sleep. Try to have 30-40 minutes wind down time after game play before trying to sleep.
Gaming replaces your social life
Playing games can be a great way to connect with other people, whether that’s playing together in person or online. It also allows you to join community groups and forums where you can find people who enjoy the same things you do. These relationships are important, but it’s best that they don’t completely replace the relationships you have offline with other family and friends.
If you think you could be neglecting other relationships so that you can game instead, or if friends or family have brought up how often you are gaming, it might be a good idea to make time for those offline relationships.
Gaming affects your eating habits
It can be very easy to get caught up in a game, and this could mean you end up skipping meals or putting less time into eating well, choosing to eat snacks instead or using energy drinks and caffeine to stay awake while you’re gaming. If these kinds of food feature heavily in your diet, it can leave you feeling groggy, lacking in energy, and having difficulty concentrating. It can also have negative effects on your physical wellbeing.
If your gaming habits are encouraging you to go for more unhealthy, convenient foods, try to make time to put together healthy meals instead.
Gaming prevents you from exercising
Getting out and moving around is a great way to look after yourself physically, as well as lift your mood and help you to feel better. If all your spare time goes into gaming, and you find it hard to pull yourself away, it can prevent you from making the time to exercise. Lack of exercise can contribute to low energy levels, low moods, and put you at a higher risk of physical health problems.
Making a plan to fit exercise into your day is a great way to look after yourself. If gaming is making it difficult to do this, it could be a good idea to take a look at your habits and ask if it might be time to cut back.
What to do if you think you have a problem with gaming
If you are making time for school, college or work, spending time with friends and family offline, and making sure you eat well and exercise, then you probably don’t need to worry about your gaming habits.
However, if you think your gaming could be having a negative impact, there is help there for you. Talk to friends or family about how you’re feeling, and ask for their support in making changes. This doesn’t mean you have to stop gaming altogether, just work on introducing more healthy habits into your routines. A counsellor can help you to look at these habits and how they make you feel, and support you while you work to make positive changes.
Gaming is fun and can be a positive experience, so long as it isn’t impacting on other areas of your life.
Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.