1. They have trouble sleeping

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All modern screens emit blue light which has been found to have a powerful effect on the sleep-wake cycle.  Blue light suppresses the body’s ability to produce Melatonin.  This magical hormone plays an integral role in the timing of our circadian rhythm and affects the way our brain responds to darkness.  If its production is blocked by the blue light emitted by screens, your child will not feel sleepy at bedtime and will have lots of trouble falling asleep.

2. They start to neglect other parts of their lives

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Video games are created for people to enjoy and it is completely normal to have fun playing them.  However, the problem arises when a child’s gaming leaves no space or time for anything else.  They may begin to neglect their school work, their friends, their responsibilities, and even their own well-being.

3. Their school grades begin to plummet

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There are studies that have found that the more time a child plays on their video games, the lower their grades are at school.  It is also clear that children struggle at school if they are not getting enough good quality sleep, and if they are leaving little space for anything other than gaming at home, homework and revision are always completely forgotten.

4. Everyday tasks begin to get much harder

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As parents, we are probably all too familiar with children sighing, rolling their eyes at us, and shouting “in a minute” when we ask them to do their chores.  Understandably, putting their clothes in the wardrobe is not something they ever jump for joy about.  However, if they are in the middle of a game, this reaction might be exacerbated and you could be faced with frustration, anger, and even complete refusal.

5. They cannot concentrate and get distracted very easily

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Video games are very good at really catching the attention of children, particularly children who find it difficult to concentrate.  If a child is constantly playing video games, though, they might not be able to concentrate on anything else, and when they are away from their consoles, there is also the possibility that they are still focussed on their game and can think of nothing else.

6. They stop eating meals with you

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When children can get so engrossed in their video games and will not stop playing to eat dinner at the table, you might be hit with a tidal wave of worries about their health, thinking that they are not eating enough.  It is therefore common for children to eat their dinner away from the dining room or they bring their games to the table.  Neither option is preferable.

7. They talk about their game constantly

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Most parents will have a vast, and mostly useless, knowledge of all of the characters, heroes, villains, skins, super-cool actions, moves, worlds, and tools that all of their kid’s games have to offer.  When kids play a lot of video games, they talk so passionately about them to anyone who will listen!  But are they ever talking about anything else?

8. When asked to stop playing, they get angry, defensive, and even aggressive

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Emotions run high when children are gaming.  They have a lot of emotions to process and it is super important to them to succeed and win.  They have to deal with excitement, anxiety, frustration, and even anger.  They are so sucked into the game that they do not want to leave it, causing even more frustration that may turn into a burning fire-ball of rage when they are asked to finish for the day.

9.  They are super emotional and have regular mood swings

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When anyone plays a video game, they want to win!  With winning and succeeding, feelings of excitement and high self-esteem bubble to the surface, and when a player loses, they may feel incredibly furious and frustrated.  These emotions can have an effect on how our body feels and the hormones it produces.  While it is good to feel a range of emotions, it is important to note that youngsters may have difficulty navigating so many of them in quick succession and they will need some extra support.

10. They seem to get a ‘buzz’ while gaming

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It is no lie that experiencing a wide range of intense emotions gives kids a huge adrenaline rush that they may not be able to get from anything else.  Video games allow children to play different characters and feel incredibly excited when they succeed in an extremely important and challenging mission or when they win.

11. They experience withdrawal symptoms

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With any ‘high’ there must also be an inevitable ‘low’ and when children have a well-needed break from gaming, it has been found that they may have to contend with a variety of withdrawal symptoms.  These may include irritability, possible aggression, boredom, strong cravings, anxiety, and even headaches.

12. They suffer from regular headaches

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The common culprits for gaming headaches are usually tiredness from playing without regular breaks and also dehydration from not drinking enough.  However, on occasion, these headaches may also be caused by stress, and these may worsen at particularly challenging, intense or very exciting parts of the video game.

13. They may begin to have problems with their eyes and  vision

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Along with the headaches comes another unfortunate impact on physical health.  Studies have found that prolonged periods of gaming may cause eyestrain and dry eyes.  During these gaming sessions, the eyes are forced to work much harder than usual and focus on many things at the same time.  This may cause discomfort, blurred vision, and further headaches.

14. Their bodies become achy and stiff

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It is no surprise that sitting in one position, hunched over a screen does anyone’s body any good.  After hours and hours of gaming, you might hear very regular complaints of a painful and aching back, a terribly stiff neck and shoulders, and even soreness in the fingers, thumbs, hands, wrists, and arms.

15. They complain about sore fingers and thumbs

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It is true that a condition dubbed ‘Gamers Thumb’ exists.  This nickname is for a condition called de Quervain’s Tendonosis which is where the tendons in the thumb become inflamed and painful.  Repetitive strain injury can also extend to the fingers and the hand, causing soreness and tightness and may lead to reduced mobility in the fingers, thumbs, hands, and wrists.

16. They may begin to feel lonely

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Nowadays, we might seek comfort in the fact that video games are online and therefore give kids and adults alike the opportunity to socialize and be part of online communities.  However, it is important to note that some studies have found that video games may be used as a coping mechanism and that increased hours of gaming may be linked to higher feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

17. They may begin to suffer from a low mood and reduced self-esteem

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It is a common belief that excessive video gaming causes a variety of mental health issues in children and adolescents.  While video gaming has often been correlated with poor mental health, it is really important to note that may not be video games alone that have the power to cause depression or anxiety but a gaming addiction can make these issues much worse.

18. They pretend to not play the game for as long as they are

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After ‘Game Over’, when parents think their kids have switched off their consoles for the day or the evening, there is always the possibility that they might secretly turn them back on to sneak in a bit of screen time without your knowledge so they can carry on their gaming mission.  It seems that the game is never actually over.

19. They play one game for hours on end

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It is common and completely normal for children to have a favorite anything, including video games.  They might enjoy playing it the most, often for hours on end.  However, they may become so engrossed that they might forget to rehydrate and move their sitting position which may cause headaches, aches and pains in the body, and stiffness in the neck, not to mention the dry eyes they may get from focusing on the screen for too long!

20. They have trouble interacting with their peers

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Lots of online games are very social and collaborative and allow players to speak through a headset or a chat facility.  Some believe that this opportunity to interact online could give youngsters the confidence to try it face-to-face.  However, others believe that kids who spend less time socializing with friends or family in person tend to suffer negative and noticeable impacts on their social skills.

21. Their attention and memory might actually improve

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It is important to point out, and probably very comforting to know, that there have actually been studies that have found positive effects of prolonged gaming on children.  A study once found that, from reading MRI scans of the brain, the children that played video games for three hours or more per day actually showed higher activity in the regions of the brain that deal with attention and memory!

22. They may begin to have nightmares

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Video games often allow players to immerse themselves in imagined worlds where amazing, unbelievable, and perhaps quite scary things can happen.  Younger children who have been frightened by monstrous characters in games may have difficulty falling and staying asleep.  Some studies have found that screen time and video games might be more likely to even cause night terrors in younger children.

23. They don’t want to leave the house

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A study found that more children spend a lot more of their precious childhood indoors nowadays.  In fact, they were found to spend twice as much time indoors than they do outside!  This means that if they are not going outdoors, they might not be getting enough exercise and active play which is important for children’s development and long-term health.

24. They lose interest in other activities

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Video games may take over kids’ lives so much so that they would prefer to stay at home, or go to a friend’s home, to spend their time playing in front of their screens.  Sadly, they may completely lose interest in playing in the park, joining a sports team, going on an adventure in the woods, or digging for treasure on the beach.

25. They may become victims of cyberbullying

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With the rise of online gaming and the ability to socialize and create communities online comes the risk of cyberbullying.  This is classed as unlawful and includes someone sending or posting negative, false, or hurtful material online.  Victims of cyberbullying can experience stress-related conditions, anxiety, and depression, and this can leave them feeling completely isolated.

26. Aggressive behavior might extend to other areas of their lives

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There have been mixed results on whether playing violent games can lead to aggressive behaviors but some studies have actually found a link between violent games and aggression, suggesting there may be an influence on children.  Children also have to deal with a lot of big emotions when playing, including anger and frustration, and they might not have learned to deal with these in an effective way yet leading to possible aggression as they attempt to navigate their strong emotions.

27. They might neglect themselves

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If children and teenagers are playing their video games so much that they are showing signs of addiction, they will tend to get so lost in the activity that they may stop taking care of themselves completely.  They may even begin to neglect everyday essential activities and put less time into their appearance or even cleanliness in general.

28. They’re playing for more time than they’re sleeping

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We all know too well the foul moods that are caused by lack of sleep and children, of course, are no strangers to this terrible grumpiness.  Lack of good quality sleep in children may contribute to a number of negative effects, including negative moods, lack of concentration, learning problems, and very low energy.

29. They stop taking part in their old hobbies and going out to play

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It is clear that lots of children would prefer to stay indoors but, with excessive gaming leaving absolutely no room for anything else, children begin to miss out on lots of other aspects of life.  They might quit their dance class, stop turning up to tennis practice, allow their musical instruments to gather dust in the corner, and even avoid their friends in case they felt they had to stay out and socialize.

30. They may show some signs that they are learning valuable skills

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Now, like point 21, this point offers some further comfort because even though we have discovered some of the negative, and some quite devastating, effects of gaming, it is also really important to point out the skills that can be learned through gaming.  You have your problem-solving and logic, collaboration skills, faster and more accurate decision-making, and better attention to detail, to name a few.  The most important thing is to try to find a balance to be aware of the risks, and to also make sure to reap the wonderful rewards of the benefits that video games provide!