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5 Truths About Teens and Screens

3. Playing Violent Video Games Can Harden Teens

Sure, video games are fun and thrilling. But scientists found that the ones that involve war, violence, and murder can make you more aggressive and less sympathetic toward other people. They may also make it more likely that you'll do something violent yourself.

Signs you're gaming too much:

  • You’re often grumpy and get angry easily.
  • You have little patience.
  • You get in fights regularly.

What you can do about it:

  • Gradually cut back your gaming time.
  • Find friends who'd like to try other things for fun.
  • Switch to less-violent video games.

4. Too Much TV Time Can Bring You Down

When you binge-watch the lives of teens in Mystic Falls or on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is it changing how you enjoy your own reality? Research shows that the more TV you watch, the more likely you are to be depressed.

Why? Watching the tube takes time away from other fun things, like hanging out with friends, playing sports, or reading a good book. Shows and ads also send 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 see a lot of negative stories.

Signs TV is depressing you:

  • You feel tired after you watch it.
  • You're anxious about what you see on it.
  • You have trouble sleeping after you watch for a long time.

What you can do about it:

  • Cut back to watching your top two or three favorite shows each week.
  • Record shows and watch them over the weekend. Bonus: You can fast-forward through commercials.
  • Turn off the TV after 8 p.m. and do something relaxing before bed -- you could listen to calm music or read, for example.

5. Texting and Gaming Can Hurt

It may sound silly, but it's real. Using your thumb to press the tiny keypads on handheld devices can lead to an injury that physical therapists call "gamer's 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 swells up.
  • You get headaches.
  • Your eyes feel dry.

What you can do about it:

  • Limit your time on these devices to 20 to 30 minutes a day.
  • Stretch out your fingers and thumbs every so often while you’re texting or gaming.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on June 08, 2018
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