In a world where teens are surrounded by constant stress, sometimes disconnecting with a fun video game can be a good way to relax. However, can the games they love, also bring them down?
Spending hours in front of a screen might help teens kick back and relax, but it could also be just as stressful. Chair of the UNBC Psychology Department, Cindy Hardy, says the lack of physical activity while playing video games can be harmful. “They’re responding to stimuli that may be stressful, so they’re having stress response possibly while they’re online and if you’re not up moving around, it’s hard to dispel the effects of that on your body,” she said.
Now parents like Chis Somers are taking notice too. “Playing too many video games definitely causes somebody not to be as active so not a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “We limit all that kind of time (for our kids) to help with that.”
In fact, a new study out of the Centre For Addiction and Mental Health suggests more than one in three teens are stressed. That number of teens experiencing moderate to extreme psychological distress between Grade 7 to Grade 12 has jumped from 24 per cent in 2013, to 34 per cent in 2015.
Manager of Game Quest, Michael Rutherford, says sometimes the games we play can become a little too real. “You can for sure take them personally and I have taken a game or two personally as well, but the trick is knowing when the game ends and being able to separate it.”
Not to mention the physical components of playing games too long, including feeling nauseous or queezy. Although, now there’s an app to get get kids up and moving, catching their favourite mysterious creatures.
Rutherford has been playing ‘Pokemon GO’ on his phone for the last little while and says it gets him up and moving. “I’m way more active than I used to be, my wife and I play it probably two or three hours a day and we’ve already walked 25 kilometres just playing around,” he said. “You meet probably 50 or 60 people at spots at like Fort George who are all just connecting.”
Although the Centre For Addiction and Mental Health says about one in three teens get stressed, Hardy says it might actually be a good sign. “There’s more youth accessing mental health care so that might be why there’s more diagnosis or acknowledgement of it.”