As parents, there are many cautionary statements we make to try to keep them safe. “Look both ways before you cross the road”, “Put your helmet on before you ride your bike” and “Wait thirty minutes after you eat before swimming” (although I never really understood that last one.)

I can safely say that, despite being a fantastic parent and giving my children all the appropriate safety advice while they were growing up, never once did I utter the sentence, “Don’t use your phone too much because you will damage your thumbs.”

But maybe I should have.

Australian physiotherapists are seeing a surge in thumb injuries from…excessive mobile phone usage. Physios across the land saw gaming and doom scrolling causing thumb tendonitis. Apparently the way we hold our phones and use our thumbs is not a natural movement as our tendons are not designed to work in a repetitive straightening type motion. We overload the tendons and ask them to do something they don’t normally do. And if you prefer your PC over a phone for gaming, you are not out of the woods. Physios are also seeing tendonitis in the index finger on our mouse hand from scrolling and clicking. Most of the injuries were present in people over the age of forty but some teenagers and millennials have been visiting health facilities with similar injuries. The good news is that the injuries are typically not permanent but the bad news is the treatment. Stop playing games! It is much easier to tell a teenager not to swim for thirty minutes than it is to tell them to stop gaming!

Gaming is one of those behaviour changes we saw during the pandemic. Time on mobile phones increased by over 50 per cent in Australia and last year we spent almost $4 billion on games in this nation as part of the $US175 billion spent on games across the globe. The first year of the pandemic saw a 23 per cent growth in gaming revenue. This makes the gaming industry bigger than the global movie and music industries combined. The image of your average gamer might be of an introverted teenager in a darkened room but the most popular age bracket for gaming in Australia is the 35-44 bracket and of all the gamers in this nation, 11 per cent are over the age of 65. The latest research shows that 75 per cent of people play with others as a way of connecting and many of those older gamers are staying connected with grandchildren in their gaming scenarios. As much as we may have thought that gaming surged more than a decade ago, the pandemic added fuel to the gaming flames. In 2005, 76 per cent of households had at least one device to play a game. By the end of last year, that figure had increased to 92 per cent and would have been higher if there was better stock availability of some consoles.

So what does the future hold? The pandemic saw a huge increase in gaming but will it drop back to pre-pandemic levels as we move back to something we might call normal? The experts believe that growth in the industry will continue at a rate of 5 per cent through to 2030 at least. Now that hearts and minds (and wallets) have been captured, growth will continue.

The all-important question is what was the best performing retail title in Australia? Amazingly, thirty years after we first saw this character, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was the best-selling title.

Tell me your favourite game at

Mathew Dickerson

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