maintaining healthy gaming

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Gaming can be a positive and enjoyable activity. It can help us to connect with others, feel a sense of belonging and provide opportunities to learn new skills.

Healthy gaming can help us to have structure and routine in our lives and give us some beneficial downtime, relaxation and fun. 
For a small number of young people, gaming can have a significant negative impact on their everyday lives.  
If you think that your gaming is beginning to contribute to some problems in your life, there are lots of things you can do get some balance back.    

 

Download our fact sheet on understanding what is healthy electronic gaming 

Signs of possible problems with gaming

Gaming can be a great way to help with stress. But we know that increased or excessive time spent gaming may take away from being able to do the things that keep you healthy and well. For example, you might find that you’re spending less time than usual with people you care about.  You might be less active than usual or find that you are having trouble with sleep, studies or work.   

 

If you are experiencing some of the changes below, it might be a sign that gaming is starting to have a negative impact on your everyday life:

  • feeling sad, irritable, anxious, frustrated or angry when you’re not gaming 

  • changing sleep patterns or sleep difficulties e.g., getting up early or staying up late to game 

  • being angry or experiencing conflict with others over gaming 

  • other people expressing concern at the amount of time you spend gaming 

  • often feeling frustrated at losses 

  • spending less time with family and friends outside of gaming 

  • being preoccupied with gaming (spending large amounts of time thinking about the next gaming session or past sessions) 

    • losing track of time or feeling a loss of control over the time you spend gaming 

    • spending lots of time thinking about the next gaming session or past sessions 

  • feeling physical pain or irritation, for example pain in your neck, wrists, or back, dry or red eyes 

  • eating meals while playing or skipping meals 

  • spending more money than you can afford on new games or in-game purchases 

  • using gaming as a way of avoiding the real world 

  • unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming or cut back

 

 

You might also notice other changes in your life that don’t appear directly related to your gaming such as:

  • loss of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed  

  • lowered self-esteem or self-confidence 

  • changes to eating habits  

  • headaches/migraines 

  • decreased personal hygiene 

  • difficulties with studies or work. 

 

Related problems

People who have difficulty with gaming may also be experiencing other mental health conditions, for example, difficulty with their mood. 

Supporting yourself and getting help

 

It may help to check-in with yourself to see how your gaming is impacting on your life. Ask yourself questions like - is it fun and helping you to feel good? Does it support you to have a healthy life or take away from it?  


There are a lot of tips that can help with keeping your game time in balance. Time spent gaming can sneak up without you realising it. Here are some things that you could consider: 

  • Leave gaming time for after your jobs are done. Treat it as a reward.  

  • Decide in advance how much time you want to spend online. Set a timer or an alarm.  

  • Set up times in your day to be game free.    

  • Explore other hobbies and interests that help give you balance. 

  • Get up and move regularly. Doing some simple stretches can really help. 

  • Make sleep a priority. Charge your devices outside of your room or perhaps don’t have them in your bedroom at all. You will reduce the temptation to be online instead of sleeping. 

Where can I get help?

If you find that you are continuing or increasing your gaming or your relationships, mood, studies or work are being impacted, it’s a good idea to reach out to someone you trust. You could talk with a parent, teacher, school counsellor, Elder, family member or friend. A general practitioner (GP) is another good place to start when seeking help and information. You can also contact eheadspace (our phone and online service) your local headspace centre, or Kids Help Line if you wanted to talk to somebody about your internet and gaming use.   


With the right support, most people are able to get back to enjoying the benefits that gaming and internet use can contribute to their lives. 

 

For immediate help contact triple zero (000) if it is an emergency   

National 24/7 crisis services:  

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au 

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 or suicidecallbackservice.org.au 

beyondblue: 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au 

 

Additional youth support services: 

headspace: find your nearest centre or contacteheadspace,our phone and online service(12-25 years) 

ReachOut: reachout.com.au(under 25 years)

Kids Helpline: kidshelpline.com.au or 1800 55 1800 (5-25 years) 

SANE Australia: sane.org  or 1800 187 263 (18+ years) 

Other useful resources

How to manage sleep and gaming

How to balance screen time

 


The headspace Clinical Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website. 

Last reviewed 28 April 2022 

 

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