Can Video Games Affect Your Mental Health?

by - 19:36:00

Good evening! ❤

Hope you are all well, I can't believe it's the end of September, where has the time gone?? But on the plus side that means it's almost Halloween! (I absolutely love this time of the year.) This past week I have been reading up about video games and the affects it has on us, some say they're bad for our mental health but others say that it also helps with our mental health. It has only come out recently that being addictive to playing games is officially a medical issue. So I thought I'd have a look into the positive and negative impacts as I do enjoy playing games. Currently playing the new Tomb Raider which I am loving - I pre-ordered it because I love the game franchise so much and the game hasn't let me down! 

Gaming addiction: 

As you're probably aware recently gaming addiction has been classified as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organisation. It is described as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes precedence over other life interests. Symptoms include - impaired control over gaming, increased priority given to gaming and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences. Although in some countries they had already identified it as a major public health issue, but in the UK there are many private addiction clinics that can help treat the condition.

Dr Mark Griffiths who is a professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University has been researching the concept of video game disorder for thirty years. He explains that video gaming is similar to gambling as gamblers use money as a way of keeping score whereas gamers use points. Although he explains that the percentage of those with a gaming addiction is in fact extremely low and that most would likely have other underlying mental health problems. Mark feels that for most playing games is more for entertainment and novelty, he explains that people have short obsessive bursts but its not an addiction.

There are many countries that face these issues differently for example, South Korea have a new law where they ban access for children under sixteen from online games between midnight and 6am, also in Japan players are alerted if they spend more than a certain amount of time each month playing games and China has limited hours that children can play popular games on Tencent. 
There has been research done that has shown that children that do spend a lot of time on their screens manage their digital life with their daily life quite well. And for children aged eight to eighteen it is found that boys spent longer playing video games than girls. 

I found an article about someone on YouTube called Johnny Chiodini who has a few videos on the impact of video games under a series called - ''Low Batteries." I have linked the first video in the series where he speaks about 'sadgames' and what is meant by this is when you're feeling depressed or anxious if you're someone that plays games a lot you might find that you turn to one particular game and when you start playing it you then question yourself - 'oh I'm not doing too good.' He explains this is something quite clever to help you realise when you're not feeling too good mentally but also they can help you feel better, they give you that escape that you need at that time. He does point out though that if you start to feel that you rely on them too much then you need to help yourself and talk to someone about it. There's 7 videos in the series so far and they're quite short so I ended up watching them all in one go. I particularly liked watching the video on a game called Hellblade as this is something I have played myself and a hundred percent agreed with his explanation on it - have a look here. I would recommend going through these videos if you're someone who can't see how games are good for mental health or how certain games depict mental health issues so well

Johnny also believes that playing games too much is often a symptom of wider mental health issues rather than a cause of them. 
Cognitive Benefits: 
Before writing this blog post I wanted to do a lot of research into it so I had a good understanding of the topic also. I had a read of this article written by Peter Gray - link. Go check it out as it goes into a lot of detail and also includes other research into this topic. I will only list these rather than fully explain. 
Peter found research that looked into two strategies, correlational and experimental. In the first study regular gamers are compared on perceptual and cognitive tests with people who don't play video games. The finding is that gamers outperform the non-gamers on all the tests. Which means it could suggest that gaming helps better performance, but obviously this doesn't prove it entirely as those who plays games may already have better perceptual and cognitive abilities. However Peter then looked into experiments where they would have participants that to begin with are non-gamers and then some are asked to play video games for a certain number of hours per day for so many days and then both participants take some tests. The typical finding are that those who play the video games improve on basic perceptual and cognitive abilities.
Here are some findings: 
🎮Fifty hours of action video game play spread over 10-12 weeks improved visual contrast sensitivity.
🎮Improved spatial attention.
🎮Improved ability to track moving objects in a field of distractions. 
🎮Reduced impulsiveness. 
🎮Improved ability to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. 
🎮Increased mental flexibility. Improve people's abilities to switch rapidly and without error between tasks.
🎮Reversing mental decline that accompanies ageing. This includes flexibility, attention, working memory and abstract reasoning. 
🎮Improve job performance. Especially for those that require good eye-hand coordination, attention, excellent working memory and quick decision making. 

So there are different opinions and evidence where games can be positive and help with mental illnesses and can help when people are going through difficult times but they can also have a negative impact where people may rely on them too much and in extreme cases it will cause people to stop doing anything - like eating and basic life interactions - and instead will not be able to stop playing games. I agree with Johnny that games are a good way of escape and giving you that moment to step out of life and not really think too much about anything else but the game you're playing - it really does completely distract you and makes you feel positive. However it shouldn't be something that you rely on, if you find that you just start playing a game because it's the only thing that makes you feel better then that's when you need to get help. It's so important to know the difference between playing a game as a short term coping method to games just being a distraction in the long term. 
What are your thoughts on this? 
I hope this post has been informative, I enjoyed looking into it. There's so much more out there on this topic so do have a search yourself if you want more information on this topic or if you're interested in some of the research that has been done around this. 
As always, chat soon!

Below is a link to HellBlade if you wish to purchase it or have a look: 
This is an affiliate link so if you click it I will get a small bit of money from it.

I also have a donation page to help with monetising my blog. At the moment I have ads on my blog where if people click onto these I get a bit of money from it however this isn't too great for me as most people nowadays have ad blocker on. Because of this I have decided to set up a donations page - I would love to continue writing, researching and sharing everything I find about mental health with you, I would also love to fund giveaways that I can run often for you guys to win free things. The donations are to help me continue to run my blog and make it even better for all my readers. This is only an option, I will always continue writing posts for you with or without the donations.

Link below for donations:

Thank you ❤❤

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  1. Hi Chloe! First time snooping around in your blog. I totally agree with what you stated above! I play video games myself and it does help me with multitasking and being more aware with surroundings (I'm still terrible with multitasking lol). Increase in decision making and hand-eye coordination is so true!

    1. Thank you for having a read! Yeah definitely I have seen many articles and studies done on this that all point to helping us improve certain skills! x

  2. I think this is a complicated issue because the gaming industry is so diverse, but when the general public thinks of "video games" they're thinking of first-person shooters like Call of Duty or GTA that often get a lot of negative media attention for being violent and attracting a certain type of player.

    I really enjoy the thrilling and immersive experience of horror games, especially the paranormal variety. And there are so many indie game developers out there that put a lot of thought and heart into the story-telling of their games.

    I think the industry has a lot of potential to do good for the mental well-being of their gamers.

    On The Cusp |

    1. I definitely agree! Although if you look into some of the story for any of the Call of Duty's they kind of include characters that are having to deal with mental health issues. I do enjoy a game that has good story to it, I love a game I can pick up and just don't want to put down because the story is so immersive. It totally takes you out of the real world, and sometimes you need that. x