The Negative Effects of Mobile Games

By Chris Davis-Falco

Updated September 22, 2017

As hardware power increases, and prices decrease, the smartphone has quietly made quite a foothold as a platform in the video game industry. Many companies are using smartphones to target previously unreachable market segments in video gaming, such as casual gamers and women. As this platform becomes more popular, researchers are beginning to notice potential problems and dangerous behaviors associated with this type of video gaming that has never been observed with any other type of gaming.

Dangerous Distractions

The first negative effect of mobile gaming is the potential for distraction when performing another more important activity, such as driving. Video games should never be played while driving. Some mobile games use the internet and have the ability to push information and notifications to a player even when the player is not actively playing. The game may send these alerts while a player is driving, and the player may not identify the alert's origin as being from a game, or be tempted to check it anyways, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Loss of Productivity Distractions

Many mobile games have a social aspect, or rely on other players taking turns or participating in the game. In games like this, it's common to have alerts and updates throughout the day about various things happening in different games. It's also very tempting to take several minutes and quickly check on a game, or make a quick move. These micro-transactions can quickly add up over the course of a day or week, resulting in many wasted hours of productivity.

Sleep Problems

Mobile phones and video games have both been independently linked to disruption in the sleep patterns of children in studies. Jan Van den Bulck, a senior lecturer in psychology at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, found through surveys that one in five teenagers reported being awakened regularly by their mobile devices. Playing video games on mobile phones will no doubt continue to prevent children from getting the rest they need. Disruption in sleep patterns, like the ones caused by mobile games, have been linked to behavior issues, and sleepiness during the day.

Out of Control Spending

Many mobile games operate on a "free to premium" business model, where the basic game is free, but extras within the game cost money. Some players have found themselves spending large sums of money while playing games, in an out of control fashion. These types of games are potentially very dangerous to gamers with any type of addictive personalities. There have also been reports of parents allowing their children to use their devices to play their free games, and their children have somehow managed to purchase items accidentally, with no way for the parent to receive a refund.