It has been reported that seniors are becoming computer savvy in increasing numbers. In the US they are the largest group currently taking up the use of internet. I suspect that this is no different in Australia. There are now computer clubs for seniors, online web sites for teaching computers to seniors, community organisations and colleges teaching specific courses for seniors.
There are many benefits for seniors who use the internet. These include keeping in touch with family, increasing mental agility, improving motor skills, online shopping, paying bills etc.
But most of all is the access to computer games – the range of games is enormous. You can play card patience and chess against the computer or you can play games with others such as Scrabble and Words with Friends. There are apparently other games like Slotomania in which there are levels to be reached and games in which payment is required to continue playing. One statistic indicated that more than 11billion dollars US was generated worldwide in 2012 from computer video games.
While playing games is useful if you have a few spare moments and want to fill in some time and also maybe improving motor skills and mental agility, some games can be mind-numbing and serve as an escape from reality. Sitting at a computer for hours at a time cannot be good for your health.
As with many things in life too much of a good thing can be bad for you. I am hearing more and more of people playing games at all hours. Some are playing games such as scrabble with others in the early hours while browsing the internet. Sleep experts will tell you that the visual stimulation on computer screens is disadvantageous if you want to sleep. While some may say it is helping them sleep it is more than likely that the visual neurons are being exhausted and they can no longer keep their eyes open which may not be the proper recuperative sleep needed.
Addiction can be very quick (such as addiction to nicotine) or creep up on you slowly. If an activity is interfering with normal work and social interactions then it may be that an addiction is developing. Addiction is often described in terms of the physical needs and the psychological needs. Addiction to computer gaming without going into the complexities is based on some psychological need and reward. There are certain signs of addiction that include:
- playing online games every day
- playing online games when you know you should be doing something else
- playing online games instead of socialising or talking to your family or friends
- thinking a lot about your game when you are away from it?
- feeling nervous or uptight when you are not playing
- often hear your family or friends complaining that you are always online
Computer gaming in moderation is great as a time waster. If you are experiencing the signs listed above then maybe it is time to seek some help to replace the gaming with some other healthier activities.