Why Are Mobile Games Bad for Your Health, and What You Can Do About It
While mobile gaming is popular, it is not always the harmless pastime that it appears to be. There is an insidious side to mobile games that can harm your health, ranging from game design that triggers true addiction to threats to your financial well-being.
Here’s how mobile games can be bad for your health and the steps you can take to protect your well-being to help you understand the risks and find solutions.
1. Mobile games are designed to be engaging
The first reason mobile games are bad for your health is that they are designed to be addictive. It was intended for you to fail here.
The brain’s reward system is activated while playing video games, producing dopamine and luring gamers back for more, according to behavioral addiction specialists at Delamere. The World Health Organization now recognizes video game addiction as a mental health condition. (WHO).
Addiction to video games is defined by an inability to control the desire to play video games, prioritizing gaming over other obligations, and failing to stop even when negative side effects are observed.
What Characteristics of Mobile Games Make Them So Addicting?
The reasons why mobile games are so addicting are clear, even though many people’s gaming behaviors are unlikely to match the requirements for video game addiction:
- Dopamine hits are prioritized over quality gameplay by the creators: Rather than providing quality gameplay and narratives, mobile games are designed to provide frequent and consistent dopamine hits for low-effort gaming. Small “wins” are created by creators to entice players to continue playing.
- The games are completely free to play: Making an accessible game is critical to capturing an audience’s attention, which is why many mobile game designers offer their games for free.
- Mobile games begin simply: Mobile game developers create games that allow players to quickly progress through the first few levels, giving them dopamine hits right away. As more levels are completed, the difficulty increases, as does the sense of accomplishment.
- Everyone can play mobile games: With 3.9 billion players and a plethora of addictive mobile games available, mobile game creators have the largest audience in the gaming sphere.
2. Anxiety Caused by Mobile Game Real-Time Demands
Apart from the anxiety-inducing addictive nature of mobile gaming, players are easily pushed into anxiety-related FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to playing mobile games.
Mobile games are frequently played in real-time, with limited-time events running around the clock. Missing deadlines can cause stress in committed players. Limited-time event creators use scarcity and urgency to entice players to participate. This is similar to the advertising strategy used by marketers.
Mobile game creators use notifications to entice users to return to the game, creating a manipulative compulsion to participate or “lose out” even when they are not playing.
3. Mobile Games Distract You From Real Life
Because these games are so addictive, you may find yourself playing your favorite mobile game all the time, either actively or by being distracted by other things. This is possible when the line between escapism and addiction in mobile gaming blurs, and it is also easy to cross.
You may have crossed the line into a mobile game obsession if you find yourself in social situations either glued to your phone or preoccupied with thoughts about your current mobile game.
4. Microtransactions in mobile games can cause you to lose money.
Microtransactions are a major issue in the gaming industry because they can give players who pay for them an unfair advantage.
It can be difficult to progress in mobile games without purchasing in-game items, but if you are dedicated to the game, you can do so without spending real money.
5. Prolonged mobile gaming sessions can be harmful to your health.
Mobile gaming has an effect on your physical health as well as your mental health. According to the Sports Medicine Study, sitting in the same posture for extended periods of time while immersed in mobile games can significantly contribute to health risks such as fatigue, pain, and musculoskeletal problems.
You may be endangering your physical health if you fail to take breaks or move around while playing mobile games.
How to Control the Negative Impacts of Mobile Games
Mobile gaming is bad for your health, which is another reason why you should avoid it, but there are steps you can do to mitigate this effect.
1. Disable Game Notifications on Mobile
Turning off alerts is a good strategy for overcoming anxiety associated with mobile gaming addiction. Many mobile games will continuously encourage you to come back in throughout the day, so find your phone’s notification settings and disable gaming notifications to reduce your stress.
2. Limit the duration of mobile gameplay
Set a time limit to limit how much time you spend playing games on your phone. Your phone will disable the games you’ve selected for the day when your allotted playing time has expired.
Use these steps if you have an iPhone:
- Select Games under Settings > Screen Time > App Limits > Add Limit.
- To highlight all mobile games, select Games, or tap the games you want to restrict access to.
- Set a daily gaming time limit by tapping Next and selecting it from the scroll menu. (e.g. 30 minutes).
- To save your changes, tap Set.
To keep track of how many minutes or hours you spend playing mobile games, you may also track your screen time.
3. Limit in-game purchases
You can set a budget in the Play Store settings if you have an Android phone:
- Activate the Play Store.
- The icon for your profile. (top right).
- Then select Payments and Subscriptions.
- Tap History and Budget.
- To set a spending cap in-game, select Set Budget.
You may prevent in-app purchases on iOS by following these instructions:
- Launch Settings.
- Select Screen Time.
- Then select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
- Simply select iTunes & App Store Purchases.
- Click In-App Purchases.
- Click Don’t Allow.
If you wish to restrict but not totally prevent in-app purchases, you can enable Always Require for passwords in the iTunes & App Store Purchases menu.
Mobile gaming does not have to be detrimental to your health.
The first step toward self-care is becoming aware of how mobile gaming can harm your health. If you follow the advice in this article, you should be able to play mobile games without endangering your health.
However, if you continue to struggle with video game addiction despite the advice in this article, it is critical that you seek help and support from a friend, family member, or a professional.