There’s no denying the meteoric popularity of esports, but when does spending hours playing Fortnite, Call of Duty, or Madden NFL become a health hazard for your kids? We’re not just talking about video game addiction — we mean the connection between esports and physical injuries.
According to Newzoo, a “leading provider of market intelligence covering global games, esports, and mobile markets,” there are more than 2 billion active gamers in the world. Market research provider Statista reports that a whopping 100 million of them play League of Legends” alone.
Is your child one of them?
If the answer is yes and you’re concerned about your kid’s marathon sessions at the helm of their gaming console, there are a few things to look out for. These include irritation of the eyes, as well as nagging pain in the back, neck, wrists, and hands. That’s not to mention the dangers of participating in a largely sedentary activity, which can potentially lead to obesity and problems with blood circulation.
“The negative impact of staring at a computer for hours on end, without any blue light filters, is an issue we may have brought to the surface,” Dr. Joanne DiFrancisco-Donoghue told Healio Primary Care Today. DiFrancisco-Donoghue is an exercise physiologist in the department of osteopathic medicine at New York Institute of Technology. She conducted a survey of esports competitors and found that eye fatigue was the most commonly reported physical ailment. “Blue light damage seems to be commonly overlooked in gamers, and we simply don’t know the long-term effects that this kind of exposure can have on the eyes over years of play.”
Participants in DiFrancisco-Donoghue’s survey also complained of neck and back pain (42 percent), as well as wrist pain (36 percent) and hand pain (32 percent).
Dr. Ingo Froböse and his team at the German Sports University in Cologne report that the most common esports injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
“Considering the daily routines of an esports athlete, training sessions for up to 10 hours a day are quite common,” says Froböse’s website. “The constantly repeating movements … leave a high risk for tendon irritations, inflammations and similar disorders. Being mainly sedentary, this overall stationary practice adds risks to the muscular-skeletal system.”
But don’t worry, parents, it’s not all bad. Participating in esports can have some of the same upsides that come with playing on a real-life baseball or basketball team.
“Competitive video gaming has the potential to have many of the similar benefits to traditional sports, including teaching teamwork, improving reaction time, and developing hand-eye coordination skills,” said Dr. John T. Holden in a conversation with Parentology. Holden is an assistant professor in the Department of Management at the Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business.
“Of course, the physical activity level associated with esports is often lower than many traditional sports,” Holden said, “but that does not mean that esports are devoid of benefits to competitors, including benefits associated with socialization and the feelings that accompany accomplishing a goal.”