Could video games harm your child? Neurologist says long exposure to games can boost seizure risk

It took 22-year-old Egypt Collins a long time before she felt confident to watch TV and play video games again.

"I actually don't really think about what's going to happen if I play or what might happen," she said.

It wasn't always that way. When she was 12, she says a Barbie video game triggered a seizure; she's had more than 10 since, WMAR-TV reported.

The holiday season is right around the corner, and chances are a new gaming system might be on your child's wish list. But, the games could be putting your child in danger.

"I just wanted to beat this video game," Collins said. "I kept playing it and playing it over and over -- the same part. But I just couldn't, I couldn't beat the game. And then all I remember was waking up in the hospital."

The college student has since been diagnosed with epilepsy, but says it was the flashing lights on the screen that started it all.

"It was very scary," Collins said. "I just didn't know what happened. I had never heard of this before. I had headaches. My tongue hurt. I was biting on my tongue apparently when I had the seizure."

She says she bypassed a warning label on the game, but says that's exactly what most kids do.

"They do warn you when you play the video game, but I guess most people just wouldn't expect to have a seizure from a video game," Collins said.

Neurologist Tricia Ting says she's seen cases like Collins' before, but they're not extremely common.

"It's possible that if a child is playing video games, and is playing for a long period of time with a lot of intense, flashing lights in a very low light situation around them with a high-lighted screen, if they're sensitive to that kind of stimulus, they may trigger increase in electrical seizure activity," Dr. Ting said.

Ting says the seizures are most common in people under 20 years old, and says the likelihood of having a seizure could be increased by playing the game longer.

"Certainly, if a child is in a very intense situation with a long exposure to that kind of game, there would be potentially a risk. So, it's a good idea for parents to be aware and the children themselves," she said.

Ting recommends monitoring how long your children are clicking away, especially if they are sensitive to flickering lights.

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