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5 Truths About Teens and Screens

3. Playing Violent Video Games Hardens Teens

Sure, video games are fun and thrilling. But video games that involve war, violence, and murder can make you more aggressive and less sympathetic toward other people, according to research from Iowa State University. Playing these games also makes it more likely that you'll do something violent yourself.

Signs you're gaming too much:

  • You are often grumpy and easily angered.
  • You find you have little patience.
  • You get in fights regularly.

What you can do about it:

  • Gradually cut back your video game-playing time.
  • Find friends who'd like to try things that don't involve gaming.
  • Seek out less violent video games.

4. Too Much TV Time Can Make Teens Depressed

Watching the lives of teens in Mystic Falls or on the Upper East Side of Manhattan may be fun, but is it getting in the way of you enjoying your own reality? The more TV you watch, the more likely you are to be depressed, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh.

Why? Watching TV takes time away from other activities, such as hanging out with friends, playing sports, or reading a good book. TV also sends unrealistic messages about what you should look like or what you should own in order to feel good about yourself. And if you're a news junkie, you simply may be seeing a lot of negative stories.

Signs TV is depressing you:

  • You walk away from the TV feeling tired.
  • You are anxious about what you see on TV.
  • You have trouble sleeping after watching lots of TV.

What you can do about it:

  • Cut back your TV viewing to your top two or three favorite programs each week.
  • Record TV programs and watch them over the weekend; reduce screen time by fast-forwarding through commercials.
  • Turn off the TV after 8 p.m. and do something relaxing before bed, like listening to calm music or reading.

5. Texting and Gaming Can Cause Injury

It may sound silly, but it's real. Using your thumb to press the tiny keypads on handheld devices can lead to an overuse injury that physical therapists call "gamer's thumb." The repetitive movement and long periods of time spent on these devices can cause discomfort and pain at the base of the thumb.

Signs you're overdoing it:

  • Your thumb feels stiff when you stop playing video games or texting.
  • The muscles in the palm of your hand, near the base of your thumb, feel tired and sore.
  • The joint in your thumb hurts or is swollen.

What you can do about it:

  • Limit your time on these devices to 20 to 30 minutes a day to prevent injury.
  • Stretch out your fingers and thumbs frequently during texting and video playing to ease discomfort.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on December 23, 2013
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