Playing video games should be relaxing and fun. Repetitive movements, poor posture, and overindulgence, though, can sometimes cause numbness, tingling, and other issues that might escalate into serious health problems. Review the health warnings below and follow the suggestions in this guide to develop healthy gaming practices.
As with many activities, you may experience occasional discomfort in your hands, arms, shoulders, neck, or other parts of your body when playing video games. However, if you experience persistent or recurring discomfort, pain, throbbing, aching, tingling, numbness, burning sensation, or stiffness, DO NOT IGNORE THESE WARNING SIGNS. PROMPTLY SEE A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, even if symptoms occur when you are not playing a video game.
Symptoms such as these can be associated with painful and sometimes permanently disabling injuries or disorders of the nerves, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and other parts of the body. These musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, vibration syndromes, and other conditions.
While researchers are not yet able to answer many questions about MSDs, there is general agreement that many factors may be linked to their occurrence. These include: medical and physical conditions, stress and how one copes with it, overall health, and how a person positions and uses his or her body during work and other activities (including playing a video game).
Because there are a variety of factors that may contribute to MSDs, this guide cannot provide everything you need to know to prevent an MSD. For some people, following the suggestions may reduce their risk of sustaining an MSD. For others, it may not. However, many people are likely to experience greater comfort when following these suggestions.
Keep in mind that this guide is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. If you have questions about how your own lifestyle, activities, or medical or physical condition may be related to MSDs, see a qualified health professional.Photosensitive seizures
A small percentage of people may experience a seizure when exposed to certain visual images, including flashing lights or patterns that may appear in video games. Even people with no history of seizures or epilepsy may have an undiagnosed condition that can cause these photosensitive epileptic seizures while watching video games.
These seizures may have a myriad of symptoms, including lightheadedness, altered vision, eye or face twitching, jerking or shaking of arms or legs, disorientation, confusion, or momentary loss of awareness. Seizures may also cause loss of consciousness or convulsions that can lead to injury from falling down or striking nearby objects. Immediately stop playing and consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Children and teenagers are more likely than adults to experience these seizures. Parents should watch for or ask their children about the above symptoms. The risk of photosensitive epileptic seizures may be reduced by taking the following precautions:
If you or any of your relatives have a history of seizures or epilepsy, consult a doctor before playing.
Using your body in comfortable postures is important, whether you're working or playing. Not only can this affect your overall performance, but it can also influence how comfortable you are while playing video games and may help you avoid MSDs. Changing your posture during extended gaming sessions may also help you avoid discomfort and fatigue.
When playing video games, adapt your surroundings and arrange your equipment to promote a comfortable and relaxed body posture. Because everyone has a unique body size and because many factors affect your comfort, we cannot tell you exactly how to set up your area to avoid discomfort. However, the following suggestions may help to provide you with a more comfortable environment:
Physical forces continuously interact with our bodies. We may only think of high-impact forces, such as car crashes, as injuring our bodies. However, low forces may also result in injuries, discomfort, and fatigue if they are repeated or experienced over long periods of time.
Consider the following types of low forces:
Consider the following suggestions to reduce the effects of low forces on your body:
Taking breaks can go a long way to helping your body recover from any activity and may help you avoid MSDs. The length and frequency of breaks you may need depend on the type of activity you are doing. Stopping the activity and relaxing is one way to take a break, but there are other ways too. These include:
A healthy lifestyle can help you perform and enjoy your everyday activities, including the time spent playing video games. For overall good health, consider the following:
We encourage parents to take an active role in their children's gaming. Use the Xbox 360 parental controls to customize and manage your family's access to games, movies, and television content. The Xbox 360 parental controls can be used to control the console and access to Xbox Live, including:
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