Video Games, one of the most engaging entertainment for children and adults alike can have far-reaching effects on your health. According to Entertainment Software Association, 65% of households have at least one member who plays games three hours a week. 91% of kids between 2 and 17 years are playing video games.

As children all over the world turn to games to entertain themselves, studies and research over the years are exploring whether that’s good or bad. In this article, know all about the impact of video games on children’s brain and body. 

Impact of Video Games on Children’s Brain and Body: Induce the Fight or Flight Response

Playing video games mimic the same state as “running from the tiger”. It triggers the same physiological changes as are associated with severe danger. When the brain senses danger, it immediately triggers innate survival mechanisms that can either be fighting or fleeing.

Your genes are hardwired to respond immediately to this perceived danger. At times, this stress response can help you to get things done. However, repeated fight or flight responses for a mere perceived threat does more harm than good.

When the fight or flight state is induced too often, the brain and the body has a hard time getting back to the calm state, leading to a state of chronic stress. Energy gets build-up and is meant to be discharged to facilitate the nervous system to then regulate itself. With children whose nervous system are in the nascent or developmental stages, it does much more harm than adults.

That is why it’s easy to imagine how an exciting video game leads to hyper-arousal in kids. Contrary to popular assumption, it’s not just the violent video games that lead to this situation. It can happen irrespective of the content in the game.

Video Games and Attention Deficit

As a direct consequence of a hyper-aroused state, the child will be depleted mentally and in turn have trouble paying attention, managing emotions, suppressing impulses, and following directions. The ability to bear frustrations, access the creative drive and execute tasks decreases drastically. 

There are numerous studies that state that too much video games can lead to attention deficit disorders in children. According to Dr. Philip A Chan and Professor Terry Rabinowitz, writing in the Annals of General Psychiatry, concluded that: “Children who play more console or Internet video games may have more or more intense symptoms of ADHD or inattention than those who do not.”

Numerous Screen-Related Factors Trigger Stress

There are several important factors that act as a whole to raise arousal levels in children. Here are some ways through which video games affects the body and mind:

Bright and BlueToned Light

Your internal body clock or the circadian rhythm is designed in such a way that yellow light signals the body to shut down slowly and induce sleep. On the other hand, blue light stimulates a photoreceptor in the eye called Melanopsin that signals the brain and causes behavioral arousal.


Intense Sensory Stimulation

Video games are designed to stimulate your sense organs so much that kids seem to get confused between fantasy and reality. Overstimulation of senses leads to an aggravated state of Vata Dosha, according to Ayurveda. As a result, there is an overload in your system and causes an energy drain.


Media Multitasking

Screen time is not just limited to video games. Today children are constantly juggling between varied media platforms including TV, desktops, mobiles and more. A growing body of research has revealed that exposure to media multitasking leads to reduced performance on cognitive tasks and overall wellbeing.

Exposure to Electro-Magnetic Radiation

Whether you are playing games on your TV or mobile devices, all have an element of electromagnetic radiation that does not immediately cause any danger, but, long-term exposure can potentially lead to damage. Since your body can absorb this radiation and cause a build-up of heat in the body. In the long run, it can tend to be carcinogenic and lead to cancer.


Interactivity and Rapid Pace

Interactivity and rapid pace are the standard hallmarks of any video game be it 3D or other types. While in short time these elements can be beneficial for the brain’s cognitive power in long run it does more harm than good. Kids tend to be socially isolated and spend less time outdoors.


Stimulate the Reward/Addiction Pathway in the Brain

Just like puffing cigarettes, drinking alcohol stimulates pleasurable moments, video games are also to likely offer a similar highly rewarding schedule. A study with regards to this was done and showed that video games stimulate high levels of dopamine the pleasure hormone in your brain and can potentially pave the way to addiction.

Bolster the Resilience of your Child’s Brain

Just think about it, if a child is allowed to play Candy Crush on a road trip, the trip will indeed be quiet.  But is that what your child needs? They need the time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share with their parents. This is the best self-therapy a child can get. As parents, you need to model healthy electronic use, educate your children and create technology-free moments.

While it can be difficult to completely refrain from screen time or video games entirely, taking systematic breaks and incorporating healthy practices can go a long way to protect your child’s brain.