Kamal Thakur, M.Optom
Lecturer, Nethradhama School of Optometry, Bangalore, India
The current scenario on digital devices and video games
The usage of digital devices (computers, tables, TV & mobile phones) has been increasing in the past few years. People of all ages are using digital devices either for their work, academic, or entertainment purposes. After the COVID-19 outbreak, most of the countries applied lockdown as a preventive measure to stop or slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus, during this period the usage of digital devices has been increased as outdoor activities had been very limited. (1) Mostly increased on-screen time was seen in children as most of their academic life was shifted to digital devices.
Video games are now very popular among children and adult age group. Previously the reach of video games to children or adults were very limited as one need to have a high specification device for playing most of the games, but now the scenario has changed. The advancement of smartphones and the gaming industry has revolutionized the concept of video games and opened a new E-world for children as well as adults. Even there is an absolute shift seen from offline gaming to online gaming, as access to the internet has been made cheaper, better and more reachable in the past few years. Considering the increasing number of smartphone users irrespective of age, now a days there are plenty of options for available online games in smart phones. Online or cloud games are much more addictive and attractive than offline games, as there is an in-game competition or tournaments for gamers that pressurise players to play the game for long hours and master the art.
Effect of mobile video games on eyes
Playing video games is not harmful if it is limited only to half to one hour per day. (2,3) Studies have shown a possible effect of gaming which includes improved cognitive abilities, improved hand, and eye coordination improved problem-solving abilities etc. (4) Now mobile gaming has become a concern to investigate, as there are a greater number of people who are into it. Globally, 94% of Gamers play on Mobile. (5) Gaming on mobile is more harmful than playing games on the monitor as the mobile screen is small compared to the monitor. The amount of accommodation and convergence applied on mobile is more as a player must focus on small finer details compared to a computer monitor. Playing games on mobile is different from normal usage of mobile phones, in terms of the attention required.
There are guidelines for professional gamers for setting up their gaming unit. However, we lack such guidelines for mobile gamers. The most essential components in guidelines for long term digital media use include recommendations about using the appropriate screen distance or working distance, room illumination, mobile screen brightness, and most importantly posture. Since the mobile games are mostly played while sitting at leisure or lying on bed thus there is a higher chance of increase in the risk of computer vision syndrome. The incorrect posture for long hours might also lead to the muscular pain around the arm and neck problem. Prolong gaming on a smartphone can increase the risk of neck injury as a gamer need to bend their head to see smartphone display.
Unlike computer usage, the awareness for the need of proper guidelines to use mobile while playing games is poor and not advertised well. It is always advisable to take proper breaks while using any digital screens, be it for gaming or studies and get your eyes checked by optometrist.
- Bahkir FA, Grandee SS. Impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on digital device-related ocular health. Indian J Ophthalmol 2020;68:2378-83.
- Caterina Rechichi, Gilda De Mojà, Pasquale Aragona. Video Game Vision Syn drome: A New Clinical Picture in Children? Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus 2017;54:6.
- Przybylski AK. Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment. Pediatrics. 2014; 134: e716–e722
- Isabela Granic, Adam Lobel, and Rutger C. M. E. Engels, The Benefits of Playing Video Games. 2013 American Psychological Association 2013;69:66-78.
- Tianyi Gu. Next-Gen Mobile Games, The arrival of cross-platform and evolution of high-fidelity mobile games. 2021 Global Games Market Report.; https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/the-next-generation-of-high-fidelity-mobile-games-is-coming-and-pc-console-publishers-are-on-board/ [Last accessed: 17th Jan 2022; 10:00pmAEDT]
Declaration of interest
The blog is written solely for education purpose, and it does not have any financial support and conflict of interest.