Video games are of great concern for public health due to their association with negative effects on physical and mental health, warned the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, there is no clear consensus on the link between video games and health and physical behaviors or their impact on public health problems.
For now, the evidence suggests that the impact of video games on physical and mental health depends on the type of gamer involved.
According to the WHO, people who play more than five hours per week were found to have negative outcomes, including higher body mass index, musculoskeletal injuries and sleep problems.
Excessive gambling also has social consequences, and evidence suggests that it plays a negative role, especially in the case of young men, in an individual’s interpersonal relationships.
On the other hand, people whose game is positively motivated can have positive results for their health.
There is an association between time spent playing video games and the amount of sugary drink consumed, an association that is due in part to the sugary drink industry’s heavy investment in advertising targeted at video gamers.
In addition, alcohol and tobacco advertisements are very common in video games, and it has been shown that adolescents exposed to this type of content are twice as likely to use tobacco and alcohol.
The WHO is of the opinion that it is unfortunate that pan-European gaming information systems are often unreliable and unable to identify whether there is alcohol or tobacco content in video games and that sugary drink industries are active sponsors of video game titles and leagues.
In 2020, the gaming industry saw impressive growth in the number of players and saw an increase in gross sales and revenue.
Currently, there are about 3 billion players worldwide.
The majority of gamers (2.8 billion) play on mobile phones, and there are 1.4 billion PC gamers and almost 900 million console gamers.
Although the rise of video games was accelerated by Covid-19, its growth is expected to continue beyond the pandemic.
The video game industry is continually evolving and increasingly versatile, offering a range of platforms, modes, and genres.
For example, active video game consoles allow users to physically interact with the game, and playing online has furthered the multiplayer nature of games.
Also, video games are socially interactive in a way never seen before.
Increasingly, gamers are playing online, not only with friends and family, but also with complete strangers, crossing great geographical distances and thus blurring cultural boundaries, age and generation gaps, socioeconomic differences, and even language barriers.