The video game industry has been booming over the past few years, especially among adults who are transitioning to a work-from-home lifestyle. Gaming offers a number of tangible health benefits – but is there such a thing as too much gaming?
The number of healthy gaming hours for adults differs depending on the individual, and factors that affect it include a person’s lifestyle and the amount of free time they have in a day. However, as a general rule, adults should avoid gaming for more than five hours at a stretch.
There isn’t a standard healthy number that everyone should adhere to. Each of us possesses a unique psychological makeup, and what works for some doesn’t for others. In this article, I’ll provide a few tips to figure out how many hours you should consider gaming.
How Much Gaming Is Too Much?
When you’re an adult, there’s no one to monitor your gaming and tell you to stop when you’re overdoing it. You set the rules for yourself, and that’s why deciding what’s too much can be challenging.
Any amount of gaming that adversely affects other aspects of your life, like work, sleep, and interpersonal relationships, is unhealthy. The amount of healthy gaming differs depending on the day – people can often spend longer playing video games without adverse effects on their days off from work.
With children, it’s easier to monitor their gaming and set restrictions if needed. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children shouldn’t be allowed to play longer than two hours a day.
However, it’s crucial to evaluate your needs and determine how many gaming hours look healthy as an adult. Here are a few factors to help you assess for yourself.
If you’re the CEO of a company running a multi-million dollar business, five hours of gaming is not only excessive but damaging to your career.
Similarly, if you work forty hours a week and spend the weekends with your kids, you’ll have to impose strict restrictions on your gaming so that it doesn’t interfere with your personal life.
In these sorts of cases, assess your available free time and determine whether it’s worth including a gaming break into your busy schedule.
Conversely, if you’re single and working as a freelancer with a more flexible work arrangement, it’s possible to incorporate more healthy gaming time into your life. Similarly, if you work during the day and are free over the weekend, you can usually spend longer gaming on the weekend than during the week.
The nature of your schedule offers you the freedom to determine how many hours you want to dedicate to gaming. Additionally, the people around you can also affect how long you spend gaming. For example, if you’re married to a gamer, the two of you may find that gaming together is beneficial for your relationship, allowing you to spend longer playing video games than someone who is in a relationship with a non-gamer.
Of course, these cases are extremes, and you’re sure to find yourself on the spectrum between lots of free time and a super-busy schedule. So you need to assess your lifestyle and figure out how many hours of gaming you can afford to include.
Your daily habits will also determine how much time you should allot to gaming.
For example, if you go to sleep by 11 pm and you only have free time from 9 pm-11 pm, it’s best to limit your gaming to an hour or ninety minutes. However, if you sleep at 1 am, you’ll probably be able to incorporate more gaming time into your life. That said, it’s essential to schedule gaming around your daily habits and not the other way around – for example, forcing yourself to stay awake even if you’re not tired will lead to adverse effects on your health.
Keeping your body in an optimal state is essential for long-term well-being. Gaming involves sitting for extended periods in one spot, and this posture can do a number on your hips and lower back.
If you tend to avoid physical activity, sitting this way for years can wreak havoc on your physical structure, making your shoulders hunch and your body relatively stiff.
If you’re gaming five hours a day, you must work a solid fitness regime into your life. In fact, as you can see in this YouTube video, pro gamers who play eight to ten hours a day train like professional athletes to keep their bodies in good shape:
If you’re not too big on fitness and only prefer light stretching once every other day, consider toning down your gaming time to one or two hours a day. Long gaming stretches will, over time, begin to impact your posture and overall physical health negatively.
Your mindset towards gaming is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining how many gaming hours are ideal for you. Some people tend to get stressed out after playing, while others use video games as a de-stressor.
It’s vital to determine how video games affect your state of mind and general well-being and include them in your life accordingly.
For some, gaming is a release from pent-up frustration or bottled energy. Certain people get angry with other players, use abusive language, and care too much about winning while paying. But once the games are over, they’re able to return to normalcy quickly.
For others, the distinction between the gaming world and reality gets blurred with too much gaming. They begin to care too much about the outcome and playing correctly, and these stressors can be harmful over a period.
Some people also tend to get addicted to the release, while others can play for extended periods without experiencing cravings when they’re not playing. If you’re the type who tends to gravitate towards addiction, it’s best to set a time limit and disengage from the game when you’re done.
Another red flag is when you notice yourself seeking approval exclusively from games and avoiding validation from other sources in life. In this situation, it’s best to step back and reassess a healthy number of gaming hours so you can spend time socializing and pursuing a career.
Spending Time Gaming Is Often Healthy
The optimal number of gaming hours differs from person to person, and as such, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long you should spend on video games each day. Some of us may be able to live wholesome, meaningful lives with five hours of gaming. For others, even an hour or two a day can adversely affect their schedules.
However, the popular opinion today is that gaming is harmful, and the less, the better. People believe that too much screen time can damage your eyesight and adversely affect your functioning.
Today, most people spend an excessive amount of their time staring at screens, whether it’s in an office space or a work-from-home environment. And while too much screen time can cause eye strain, everyone is spending an increasing amount of time in front of a screen.
We can hardly consider excessive screen time as one of the justifications that gaming is harmful, especially considering that today’s lifestyles revolve around computers, digital pads, and phones.
Gaming does no more damage to the eyes than the requirements of most nine-to-five jobs in the corporate world (even less when you limit the hours you play). In fact, studies have found that FPS (first-person-shooter) games can even improve eyesight over time.
A study conducted by McMaster University found that people with cataracts could significantly improve their eyesight by playing just forty hours of an FPS game.
Each participant was asked to play for ten hours straight, after which they were asked to play for two hours a day until they reached a total of forty. All participants reported an increased perception of details and perception of motion.
This finding indicates that gaming can actually be used to boost your health – as long as you’re careful not to overdo it.
Gaming has been shown to offer certain benefits and can even help teenagers and kids bond with friends in online multiplayer virtual worlds. Recreational gaming is an effective way to free the mind and forget about consequences for a while and return to reality invigorated.
The tricky part is figuring out how much you should be gaming and rein it in if it starts negatively affecting your life.