There are more sinister effects of video games on children that are creeping up on every parent. No, this isn’t about games causing violence, this is about risking permanent damage to kid’s entire bodies.

“But Mom, all my friends are allowed to play video games all day.”

This is what every parent has to deal with at some point. Video games make parenting a balancing act. If they say this, you become cornered. Either way you lose.

So what do you do?

Understand this video game world fully and all side effects that come with it.

If you play video games over a certain amount of hours, it will take a toll on you. Not just eyesight, but in multiple areas: cardiovascular, muscle stiffness, spinal shape, posture, blood clots and the list goes on.

Why is video gaming so dangerous?

Because humans aren’t designed to sit all day.

So I should strictly limit my child’s gaming hours?

No, It’s not that simple. Let me explain.

How Much Screen Time Should My Child Be Allowed?

Numerous government websites and health organizations have released health guidelines suggesting that: young children from ages 5-17 should be allowed no more than 2 hours of screen time per day.

Although this is a good guideline to follow, it’s not that simple.

From my experience playing video games for more than 10 years, the time limit doesn’t matter, it’s about what they are doing in those hours.

What I have found to be ideal: Have upright posture while playing, take short breaks as much as possible and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Every 1-2 hours, give your child a 1hr break of physical activity, and if your child is playing on a PC, you should consider a standing desk.

Here is my favorite standing desk.

During my years of gaming, I suggest these rules to reduce the negative effects of video games on children and their health.

With a standing desk you get the best of both worlds. They can game for much longer, because they are standing up.

It doesn’t matter if your child plays 1 hour or 10 hours, if they don’t pay close attention to their body, gaming will take a toll on them either way. The trick is to make gaming healthier not shorter.

A good parenting tactic is to allow more playtime in direct correlation to healthier activity. Up until a certain point that is.

I have personally experienced all the negative health effects one could get by gaming too long. With this experience I’ve come up with ways to negate these negative effects and learned how long it takes until my body just needs a break.

Even playing a bit more than 1hours at a time is really pushing it, the truth is, our bodies can’t handle being sedentary for so long, we need to stand up and move around.

The amount of 1 hour sessions is up to you. 2 sessions could be a good start. Or start with 1 session until your kids prove that they can take care of their health while gaming.

During the hour or so break your kids should get some physical activity. Taking a break just to sit down again is going to do more harm than good. After sitting for an hour or more, your body needs to get moving again.

Anything that involves cardiovascular exercise like running, walking and skipping is great. This will get the heart pumping.

Like we learnt in school, our ancestors would outrun certain animals to hunt them for food. We are built to be endurance runners and the use of our cardiovascular system is imperative to our health.

If gaming is integrated into the lifestyle of your kids, lots of physical exercise should also be.

There are ways to be lenient on playtime and reduce the effects of video games on children at the same time.

effect if video games on children how much screentime

Eyesight Effects Of Video Games On Children

Long hours of screen time have a direct negative effect on eyesight. I learnt this the hard way.

Staring at a computer monitor for hours, your eyes are focused on the same focal distance for those hours. Which means the muscles that focus the eye are becoming lazy and relaxed.

Day in and day out this can cause the eye muscles to become weak and make it harder to focus, especially at long distances because your eye is only used to focusing at a close computer monitor for long hours.

The solution to this is to give your eyes a small workout every 20 minutes or so.

The rule is 20-20-20.

Every 20 minutes focus your eyes on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Doing this negates the effect of getting weak eyes and keeps them working.

Some kinds of games could last 45-60minutes per game before a team wins or loses. You don’t want to pull them out during the middle of these competitive matches because their teammates could be relying on them to win.

So a good rule to put in place is after every game finishes they should stand up and do the 20-20-20 rule which only takes 20 seconds.

This is a great rule to negate the scary eyesight effects of video games on children, you don’t want your child ending up with glasses.

This rule will take some discipline because when kids are playing games they get really into it and forget about the real world just like watching a movie.

I highly suggest you discipline these techniques to your kids as frequent as you can.

Our future is only going to include more and more screens. Building strong healthy habits to deal with this is a great start for kids.

effect if video games on children eyesight

Sitting For Long Periods Of Time Is Dangerous

I’m sure you know the feeling of finally being able to get out of an airplane seat after hours of sitting.

Sitting drains energy from your body.

Humans are just not made to sit down all day. It makes us tired and our muscles get tighter. When playing games all day you wont realize this because time flies.

The main muscles that get negatively affected are the glutes, hamstrings and upper back. The glutes and hamstrings are basically turned off while sitting for hours and become shortened.

Down the road this turns into anterior pelvic tilt where your pelvis tilts forward and your butt sticks out. This puts strain on your lower back and can cause a multitude of problems later on.

For a routine to fix muscle tightness caused by sitting I suggest you watch this video.

Each exercise only takes a minute or so each and will make sure those muscles don’t tighten up and cause imbalances.

Spine Structure Effects Of Video Games On Children

Those aren’t the only things that get affected by gaming.

Yeah I know, there’s a lot.

The lumbar spine or your lower back can be damaged by sitting all day, especially with incorrect posture. The low back takes up a lot of the brunt when the person slouches or leans forward.

If you don’t extend your lower back properly and sit upright you may find yourself leaning to one side. If this happens then the disks in your lumbar spine will be pinched on one side and also the muscles will tighten on the same side.

This is how injuries are caused. The spine is made up of an array of disks, if those disks are put under too much pressure from sitting they could get irritated. Personally I have been there already and nullified the issue before it grew into something worse. That is why with the increase in popularity of games, I stress these effects of video games on children, because experienced the repercussions.

effect if video games on children lumbar spine

Bad Posture Effects Of Video Games On Children

Have you ever seen people that walk around with a hunchback posture?

In most cases those people are victims of gaming posture.

Playing video games even for just a couple hours a day cause the rounded shoulder and hunchback look.

This happens because when kids get really into games they lean into the monitor and forget about the real world. It will cause their back to hunch forward, shoulders to round forward and head to peck forward.

Repeating this posture over the course of weeks will cement it as your normal daily posture and can cause some spinal issues.

For example if you get into sports or gym with a forward head posture you can injure your shoulders incredibly fast.

Your body isn’t designed to put your shoulders under heavy load when they are crunched forward with little room to rotate and function.

When I had forward head posture for a year I got a condition called frozen shoulder from simply flopping onto my bed and landing on my shoulder. That’s how fragile your body becomes when you don’t pay attention while playing games.

To prevent forward head posture it’s as simple as pushing your chest out and keeping your chin up when playing.

Teach your kids to think of the word “tall” and to do these two adjustments when they are starting to slouch.

Also it’s a good idea to change the monitor height so the middle of the monitor is level with their eyes, that will prevent them from looking down and rounding.

If you or your child has forward head posture, I suggest you watch the posture video further up in the article.

Teach them these exercises to do after they wake up in the morning to unstiffen the back and get going for the day with an upright posture. When gaming, remind them to think “tall” when to fix their posture.

effect if video games on children bad posture

Ergonomic Chairs To Maintain Good Posture While Gaming

The chair they sit on could determine good or bad posture.

If the chair is too plush and soft it will sink and cause rounding of the spine. If the chair is too hard like a dining chair, then it will cause irritation and dig into your back.

The chair must have a back support that goes above your head so it can support your entire upper back and neck.

If the back of the chair is too short there will be no spinal support and it will be very difficult to sit upright. There are also gaming chairs which are quite pricey but are really good.

In my experience the DXracer chairs have a back support that is not too soft and it is tall enough to go above my head. This is the gaming chair I use (amazon link).

Gaming chairs come with 2 pillows. One for lumbar support and one for neck support. Even though these pillows can be good for some people, in my experience they just push my neck forward and make me have to overarch my lower back. Gaming chairs and ergonomic chairs are a great way to reduce the bad posture effects of video games on children, so your child doesn’t get hunchback posture when they are older.

A forward neck causes hunchback posture because your head is shifting its weight out in front of the body and the muscles have to compensate. An over arched lower back causes anterior pelvic tilt where your butt sticks out, lower back tightens and glutes get weaker.

ergonomic chairs, effect if video games on children

Sitting Position Is Very Important

The body is one mechanism.

How you sit can impact the strain that is put on your hands and wrist.

If the chair is too low and the forearms are on the table it means the shoulders shrug up into a crunched position. When the shoulders rotate by movement of the arm in such a position it can cause injury and impingement.

If the chair is too high the wrist could be put in an unnatural position having to be bent upwards to compensate.

Sharp table edges can dig into their wrists and irritate the tendons. However if they move their arms up the desk and place the meaty part of the forearms on the edge, it reduces the digging in effect.

Conclusion

Gaming is like a minefield.

One wrong step and your child can face negative health effects.

There’s a lot to worry about, but it’s ok. Gaming and technology is the new world. If we can’t avoid it, let’s learn how to deal with it. Health comes first. Moderation is key and be wary if your kids go past that certain hour threshold.

Take these tips and create healthy habits for your kids.

Even though it’s a minefield, I just gave you the minesweeper.