Are Video Games Bad for Me?

Lots of kids love video games. In fact, they like them so much that they might hear something like this from mom or dad: "Enough! Unplug that thing and find something else to do!"

It can be good advice, even if you were just about to crash through to the next level. Why? Too much of anything is just too much. It's true that some studies have shown certain video games can improve hand–eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind's ability to process information. But too much video game playing may lead to health problems.

It's hard to get enough active play and exercise if you're always inside playing video games. And without enough exercise, kids can become overweight.

Really overdoing video games also could affect other important stuff, like friendships and how well a kid does in school. And it's still unclear what effect violent and disturbing games have on a person's brain.

But here's the good news: Playing video games some of the time can be OK. Just choose quality games and limit screen time — which includes TV, computer, and video game time combined — to no more than 2 hours a day.

A good game will be the right one for how old you are. Games are rated like movies and your mom or dad can help figure out which ones you should use. If you can choose one that gets you up and moving, that's even better.

You might challenge your mom, dad — or even your grandma — to swing the bat in a game of baseball or try out some fancy moves in one of the dancing games. Could your grandma be a dancing queen? Time to find out!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: April 2011

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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