How Many Hours You Should Spend on Video Games

We all enjoy gaming and can spend hours and hours playing video games, but what is the daily gaming limit that we should not exceed?

Not more than 1 hour on workdays and 2 hours on non-work days. Studies suggest that spending more than one hour daily on video games will affect your mental and physical health.

Gaming is a massively popular activity. Current research shows that there are over 2.3 billion active gamers worldwide, and teenagers are playing more than ever. With over 83 percent of teenage girls playing video games regularly and almost all boys. The global gaming market itself is almost a hundred and forty billion dollars worldwide, and that’s now larger than the film and music industries combined. With mobile gaming accounting for over 50% of revenue, gaming is more accessible than ever as well and that means that people are playing more and more.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics reports that children who played video games for less than one hour per day had greater life satisfaction and better social behavior while children that played games for more than three hours reported more emotional symptoms, social conduct problems, inattention, hyperactivity, peer relationship problems, and lower life satisfaction.

What is the purpose of gaming?

The first question to ask yourself is what is the purpose of gaming? why are you gaming? what are you hoping to get out of it?

Is it just to have fun and to be entertained? is it because you want to develop your skills and master a certain game? are you just stressed and need to escape?

Understanding why you are gaming and what’s the purpose behind it is crucial to be able to answer the question of whether or not it’s a waste of time.

It’s not possible to be productive every single hour of the day and everyone needs things like entertainment or to relax. But how you choose to achieve those results is going to have a big impact on your life. The question you should ask yourself is: Is gaming helping you to achieve your goal of relaxing for some time and preparing to be more productive when you get back to work?

If you are playing some games that help you have some fun and relax your mind, then gaming can a powerful tool that helps you be more productive. But if you are playing very competitive games and you find yourself in more of a toxic environment or community, and you’re getting really upset at the game, then you should ask yourself: is it actually helping you relax, or is it just changing the type of stress that you are experiencing.

So it's important to focus not only on the purpose behind the gaming activity but whether or not that activity is effective at helping you achieve that sort of ROI.

Tips to help you balance video games and studying

1- Set up an environment for studying

This is the most important tip. Set up an environment for studying that is only for studying. Environmental cues and the context of the situation we’re in largely define our behavior. A study was done at the University of Hawaii where researchers wanted to figure out if they could improve students’ grades by changing their environments. They told students to turn their desks around in their dorms toward one wall and put a sticky note labeled “Study Area” on the lap next to their desk. The students were instructed to only use this desk for studying, and what do you think happened? In comparison to the control group of students who didn’t do this, the students who did do it had an average of 1.0 GPA increase.

So the action item for you here should be very clear, find an area that's different from your gaming area and do your studying there. The temptation to play video games in the library or the coffee shop is probably going to be a lot less than the temptation to play games in your living room or on your computer that has Steam installed. 

2- Increase the friction required to start video gaming

The second tip is to increase the friction involved in getting into a video game. The idea here is to increase the difficulty and the number of steps involved in getting into a distracting activity and basically make doing your work a more attractive option. One way that you can do this is by creating a different account on your computer for work and only installing the programs you need for work on that computer.

3- Play games only after you’ve done your work

The third tip is to play games only after you have done all your work. Use gaming as a reward. You can use the anticipation of a long gaming session later on in the day as a motivator to get your work done more efficiently.

4- Play the type of games you have time for

Play the games that work well with your schedule. So if you are too busy and have a lot of studying to do, then it might not be the best idea to get invested in a 120 JRPG or a super long WOW raid. On the other hand, playing a few sessions of Smash Brothers with your friends is probably not going to suck up a whole ton of your time.

Be mindful of the real-world commitments you have and select your game accordingly. 

5- Turn your life into a game

This one is my favorite because it’s actually fun and it’s to simply turn your life into a game. You can reduce the compulsion to play lots of video games if your life feels like a game itself, and the best way to do this is to simply set goals that are specific and that you are stoked to achieve. An example of this is to make “An impossible list”, a list of goals that you want to achieve, and every time you achieve a goal you cross it, but also iterate on that goal and make something a little bit harder. So this way you are leveling up in every category.

The bottom line

What is the purpose behind gaming for you? Why are you investing your time in playing games every day? Is it effective at helping you achieve the ROI that you want?

These all are questions that help you find out if gaming is a waste of your time, or if it’s an activity that helps you relieve stress and stay more focused on your goals.

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