Lots of kids, teens and adults love gaming. But many worry that they're spending too much time with their games and not enough keeping fit, seeing friends and getting their work, chores and study done.
Should we be worried?
If you're playing games that you need to sit down for, yes. Lots of evidence shows that sitting down for long periods of time is bad for you, and lots of us need to do that already for work or study.
There might also be a problem if your gaming leaves you feeling stressed, frustrated or annoyed, or if you find yourself being mean or saying unacceptable things to other people while gaming.
Lots of people also go through a phase when they want to be gaming all the time. Most people get over it as they grow up and get more diverse interests, but some people end up getting stuck on gaming - and like being stuck in a game, that's a frustrating and painful experience.
What can we do?
Worried about inactivity? Try playing a game that requires some physical activity. There are lots of get-up-and-go mobile games, from Pokemon Go to geocaching, and many have extra rewards if you play them as a family or group, maaning you'll get to see friends, too.
Worried about feeling stressed after gaming? Set a timer to make sure you leave the game before it starts to get you down. Doing physical exercise, like going for a run, can also help you wind down and resrt eyes and brain after an intense gaming session.
Worried about gaming too much? Although you're unlikely to hurt your health from gaming too much, it is possible, and people have even injured themselves from things like staying in chairs too long, or not going to the toilet for long periods of time! Knocking gaming to the bottom of the list helps your brain understand that it's not the most important thing in the world, so save it up to be a treat after you've done your chores, homework, spent time with the dog, etc.
Worried about missing out? If hours seem to just disappear when you're gaming, congratulations! You've just found one of the most amazing things about games - they fill up dead time. This is great when you're bored, waiting, travelling or stuck somewhere, but if you've got lots to do, the demands of a game can get unreasonable fast. Some people approach this by giving up certain games, or by changing the way they play. Some people schedule in time to play their games, like they do to watch football or see a movie.
Get up, get out, and get variety
Playing on your own, or with other people can be very enjoyable. But gaming can push you into a smaller social group, or expose you to risky people. Spreading out what you do to include different activities - and that can also be different games - helps make gaming something great in your life rather than something that's taking over your life.
Here are some sugestions of things you can do to make sure gaming stays in its place:
- Find organised activities to do every week, like music, a club or playing board games
- Find a physical activity that works for you, e.g. sport, singing, walking, running etc.
- Find interesting activities and events and go off and do them with your friends
Though it might feel like this is trying to solve the problem of having too much to do by suggesting more things to do, studies show that as people extend the numbers and variety of activties they're doing, they become better fitting it all in. Plus, they're also likely to be fresh, new, sociable, active and challenging activities rather than the same old game you've played hundreds of times before.
Record managed by Activities Oxfordshire