Top 5 Reasons Why Video Games Can Be Bad For You

By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.

Video games can be bad for you, but not for the reasons you might think. They're not bad for you because they'll make you violent — because they won't. However they can be bad for you for other reasons.

Here's a look at the top 5 reasons why video games can be bad for you.

1. Video Games Can Be Addictive

Addiction is defined as "The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something." Anyone who has really been into video games has experienced this. Kids and adults alike think about getting home and playing games. They also spend a great deal of time reading gaming magazines, participating in online gaming forums, looking for future game releases, and of course, spending countless hours playing games. When they aren't doing any of these things, they're wishing they were.

2. Video Games Can Be Expensive

It cost a lot of money to stay current with the latest video games and hardware (console and/or computer). Many gamers spend all of their money on gaming. For example, it's not uncommon for a gamer to have 50-100 games that cost $40-$50 each. They also often have at least 2 different game consoles and 1 high-end PC. This can easily add up to thousands of dollars a year to maintain a typical gamer's habits.

3. Video Games Can Hurt Relationships

There's often a direct correlation with the amount of time spent playing video games, and the amount of time spent engaging in a quality relationship. In the most extreme example I could find, there was a couple that was so consumed with playing video games that they ended up neglecting their 3 children — to the point that they were malnourished, naked, and covered in their own feces. Although that's an extreme case, I still think there's something to be said about people who spend the majority of their free time playing video games. My guess is that they're probably not dating or pursuing a meaningful relationship in their free time.

Update: A reader brought to my attention an online group dedicated to loved ones who have been affected by their partner's addiction to World of WarCraft (WoW). Their description includes the following

Do you have a loved one that plays World of Warcraft so much that you feel like you are a widow? This group isn't just for wives, but for anyone, husbands, girl or boyfriends, mothers, fathers, sons or daughters, or anyone that has had a relationship effected by this addictive game.

4. Video Games Can Be Distracting

Avid gamers are similar to people who smoke a lot of marijuana — in that they don't get much done. Reading a good book, taking care of bills, writing an article, inventing something, mowing the lawn, etc... are simply not a priority when it comes to getting to the next level or finishing a game. Many gamers have things they would like to do in life, but they never get around to it, because they spend so much of their time playing games. Then, when they do have time to work on one of their projects, they're too tired to do it, because they stayed up till 3am playing a game.

5. Video Games Can Rob You Of Real Life Experiences

Instead of taking a trip, mountain biking, or hanging out with friends at a cafe, gamer's spend their time in a virtual reality. Whereas real life experiences bear long lasting friendships and memories, videos games do not. The only pictures that come from video games are screenshots, and the memories that are created from playing those games are ultimately meaningless. Living means interacting, growing, learning, teaching, and loving — none of which can be accomplished in the virtual wasteland of video games.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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