It can be a lot of fun to kick back with a drink, fire up the PS4 and pwn some n00bs in 'Call of Duty' or 'Fortnite' after work, but for some people, online gaming can cross the line from hobby to an unhealthy disorder.
According to a new study, Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) can change the chemistry of your brain, and if you're a man, that change is even more pronounced.
"Internet use is an integral part of the daily lives of many young adults, and a loss of control over Internet use could lead to various negative effects," said the study's senior author, Yawen Sun, M.D. "Internet gaming disorder has become a major public health concern worldwide among both adolescents and young adults."
IGD occurs when someone's obsession with online gaming starts to take over their life. People struggle with work, school, and relationships, and even experience withdrawal symptoms when they aren't gaming.
The study by the Radiological Society of North America analyzed the brain activity of men and women with and without IGD by studying their resting fMRIs. They found that in men with IGD, there was lower brain activity in the superior frontal gyrus, which is a part of the brain that is important for impulse control. The women with the gaming disorder didn't have this change in brain activity.
It's not clear whether this change is caused by gaming or is a sign of vulnerability to IGD, but maybe just make sure you keep your time on the Xbox in check.