Why long hours of gaming may be unhealthy

Kyodo News

Posted at Nov 27 2019 10:36 PM

People spending long hours at gaming have a tendency to experience adverse effects at school or work and develop physical or mental problems, a Japanese national health institute's survey showed Wednesday.

The nationwide survey by the Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center is the first of its kind to probe the relation between gaming and lifestyles, and the result will be used to formulate guidelines for screening and treatment of gaming disorder.

According to the addiction center's survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, about 33 percent of people in Japan aged between 10 and 29 spend two hours or longer in online or other types of games per day.

Among the 5,096 respondents of the survey, 85.0 percent said they played games using smartphones, PCs, and videogame consoles in the past 12 months.

The survey was conducted between January and March, covering 9,000 men and women aged between 10 and 29 across the country.

The World Health Organization included the disorder in the International Classification of Diseases in May, defining it as a pattern of behavior characterized by impaired control over digital- or video-gaming which brings significant impairment in daily activities.

In the Japanese institution's survey, 40.1 percent said they spend "less than an hour" on gaming on a weekday, which was the most common answer, followed by "from two hours to less than three hours" at 14.6 percent, and "three hours or longer" at 18.3 percent.

Of those who spend at least three hours on gaming, 2.8 percent said they play games for "six hours or longer" per weekday.

While 6.8 percent said their interest in hobbies or social activities such as meeting friends significantly decreased due to gaming, the ratio topped 20 percent among those who play games for four hours or longer a day.

The survey also indicated some people were not able to quit gaming despite seeing harm, as 5.7 percent said they continued gaming even after their studies or works were negatively affected.

The percentage rose to 24.8 percent among those who play games six hours or longer a day.

Some of them were not able to stop it despite suffering health problems apparently caused by the gaming habit. While 10.9 percent said they suffered from back pain or eye pains due to gaming, 7.6 percent said they continued gaming despite having sleeping problems and psychological issues, such as anxiety.

The survey also showed men spend more time on gaming than women do.