Though video game playing is a popular pastime for children, too much of it could lead to health problems down the road. (WRDW-TV / Dec. 15, 2011)
News 12 at This Morning / Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Video games can score you major points with the kids.
"Star Rim or something. The other one, Call of Duty," that's what's on Tammy Neal's 15-year-old son's list.
Neal knows what her son is after this Christmas.
"He has his comfy chair, he reclines in it. Plays games, he has a computer set up and does dual conversation with head sets," Neal explained.
Having their glued to the TV and mashing buttons to level up is a cause for concern for pediatricians like Dr. Reginald Pilcher, who is a pediatrician at Doctors Hospital.
"You can truly get blisters, erosion of the thumb. I have seen this," Pilcher said.
Pilcher said it's not uncommon for young adults to experience shoulder problems and even thumb cramps.
"He plays more than an hour," Pilcher said. "On average, three hours."
That's too much, according to Dr. Pilcher, but Neal draws the line when it comes to family time.
"There just comes a time to turn it off. It's dinner time," Neal said.
Too much video game playing can not only have physical effects, but social consequences as well.
"Kids are not learning how to talk to each other or communicate. They are communicating through text messages," Pilcher said.
It's also contributing to our nation's growing waistline, as more sit and use the controller instead of paying outside.
"At least there is a little activity with Wii, compared to just sitting on the couch," Pilcher said.
Neal isn't too worried. She says she tries to keep her son active.
"I know the sign to look for in him," she said.
If you're still in doubt this shopping season, go with gaming consoles that require movement and limit their time on the screen so their young eyes are not strained.
Pilcher recommends that no child under the age of 5 should start playing video games or watch anything on a brightly-lit screen. He recommends for parents to limit gaming time to an hour or half an hour for younger children.