As games and phones evolve it has become very easy for people to play on their phones everywhere and at all times. As the gaming’s platform becomes more popular, scientists have found important impacts on our society, and especially on the kids and teens.
We most certainly know all the benefits of mobile games: it’s fun, you can socialize etc. I would like to focus on the impact that is not as easy to distinguish.
Many mobile games have a social aspect or rely on other players. And in this kind of game, it’s common to have notifications and updates throughout the day about various things happening in those different games. It makes it very tempting to take a look which will most likely turn into actually going on the game to check it out and the user ends up playing for an x amount of minutes. Unfortunately, all of those quick times playing can quickly add up over the course of a day or a week, resulting in many wasted hours of productivity.
Do you get a full 8 hours of sleep at night? If not, one of the reasons might be because of mobile games. Mobile games have been linked to the disruption of sleep patterns. A study conducted at the Flinders University’s Sleep Laboratory by masters student Daniel King found that teens who play video games before bed caused significant sleep disruptions, even when they fell asleep at their usual bedtime.
Flinders University child sleep psychologist Dr. Michael Gradisar, who supervised the study, said there was a 27-minute loss in total sleep time after 150 minutes of gaming based on the polysomnography tests and also caused a 39-minute delay in sleep for the teens.
“While they went to bed at their regular bedtime, the adolescents’ still experienced significant sleep disruptions caused by frequent awakenings throughout the night,” -Dr. Gradisar said.
On another hand, a group of teens only played for 50 minutes and they had no trouble falling asleep or staying asleep the whole night. So there is a clear limit on how much time you should play before going to sleep.
Most of the mobile games are free, but almost all of them have a “free to premium” mode which means that you go from the free basic game to a paid game to get extra items such as new levels. There are also games where you can purchase elements with actual money such as “v-bucks” in the very popular game Fornite which has generated $455 million in revenue on Fornite mobile iOS. These kinds of games can be a big problem for vulnerable people such as kids and/or people with game addictions. There have been many stories about parents allowing their kids to play free games but then ends up paying for things their kids purchased on the game without any refund possible for the parents. The 2.3 billion gamers across the globe have spent $137.9 billion on games, in those $137.9 billion 51% of it came from mobile games.
Not only mobile games cause a distraction that makes you lose productivity but that distraction can also be dangerous for the users and in multiple ways. With things simple as receiving a notification from a game while you’re driving, that notification might make you go on the app as you drive which can become greatly dangerous and has caused many road accidents over the last few years. Even when you’re not driving games can be a dangerous distraction, for example the game Pokemon Go has also caused a large number of accidents, a rough estimate of 114,000 has been reported in the US where pedestrians and drivers were distracted by the game and a lot of pedestrians got hit by cars and even fell over cliffs. For instance, in Japan on August 2016, a distracted driver playing the game did not notice a woman crossing the street and struck her with his truck. The victim died of a broken neck and it was the 79th Pokemon go related accident in Japan.
I’ve had many mobile games that I loved such as Clash of Clan, Fornite, and others but these games were not only a positive thing for me. Yes, it would make me happy to play but it was also a big distraction that caused mainly a loss of productivity and some sleeping problems. At the time when I was really into the games, I would play around 4-5 hours a week depending on my school work. When I think about, it is crazy! How could I spend so much time on a game when I could be doing better things? I think that all of you readers should think about that too, and for the ones of you that have an iPhone I recommend for you to use the “screen time” option available on your phone, it will tell you how much time you spend on each app every day and over the week.
Sources: itstillworks.com / spacewhalestudios.com / sciencealert.com