Video games: Gaming Addiction
Ever since the early 70’s video games have captured the world’s imagination. America is considered the birthplace of commercial video game activity and research paints the real origin of the world of gaming to be as early as the 50s – borne out of research needs from eager scientists who wanted to find new ways to discover and use simulations to further their work. Although the work back then on video games can be seen as primitive compared to present-day technology, adults, children and teens quickly became obsessed and enthralled with this new activity. In a short time it became obvious that video games had the potential to take up a lot of time in a person’s life as players tried their best to beat the game. Fast forward to right now and it has been revealed that video game addiction – Gaming Addiction,has been found to be a process addiction – not unlike gambling addiction, where the need, the rush, the power of winning has become the single most important motivation for playing. Video games have truly proved that there is a real addiction to winning.
Back in the day you had to go out and actively find an arcade machine to play on – and they were not available all day, but now, today, things are different. Video games are regarded as one of the most sought after features of a social media site and there is literally an unstoppable ability to play a game on a handheld device or a computer or smart phone. The technical content and displays of video games in general have grown to incredible heights with games showing intense and realistic worlds, along with incredible alternate realities, an endless amount of character choices and a choice of complicated storylines that makes even Stephen King blush in envy. A child with an introvert nature , or even a teen with shy or anti-social tendencies can remove themselves from the daunting prospect of interacting with real people and engage through the safety net of online play, under a protective mask of a character given super powers and an infinite amount of gifts, personalities and other online gifts.
From fun past-time to Gaming Addiction .
There are mixed thoughts from professionals about the idea that playing video games is a dangerous or harmful addictive activity. Many people, including parents, believe that kids who play video games expand their imagination and give young ones the chance to work with others in a collaborative way, as well as give their cognitive skills a boost. The flip side of this is that when a child spends a majority of their time playing games and forego things like schoolwork, exercise , social functions like family events and other bonding activities there is a dark cloud cast over this supposedly positive activity. But can we compare video games and the Gaming Addiction of winning to that of drug, gambling or alcohol addiction?
An article on Psychology Today.com(1) said that “Actual studies looking at risk factors for video game addiction tend to be scarce. A recent two-year longitudinal study of more than three thousand Singapore students found that longer gaming time, reduced social competence, and a history of impulsive behaviour increased the likelihood of gaming addiction after two years. Among the outcomes of pathological gaming are depression, anxiety, social phobias and poorer performance in school.”
The actual reason why Gaming Addiction is so dangerous and why it is considered as such is not completely clear. Researchers have suggested that the whole system of playing and winning video games could release dopamine, (a chemical in your brain that elevates your mood and gives you a rush of energy.) Dopamine interestingly is the very same neurotransmitter which is a protagonist in other addictive activities, such as drug or alcohol abuse.
There are things that need to be cleared up about video games and Gaming Addiction .
Some people have misguided thoughts and beliefs about the world of video games. In certain schools of thought there is a mind-set that video games are completely wrong and a negative part of life which promote bad things like sexism, violence and social isolation amongst the youth. Other schools of thought believe that the very same video games are valuable tools which can be used for education and character development and can allow children to simulate the roles of powerful figures. There are positive and negative points to video games and the effect a game can have on young minds. Often Gaming Addiction can depend on the attitude of the person towards life and gaming.
Parenting Science(2) suggests that the mesmerising and compelling quality of video games “may not be due to an addictive response, but to a psychological phenomenon called ‘flow.”
According to them, ‘Flow’ takes place when individuals become so immersed in an activity that they lose track of time. Any activity which requires engagement, even school or work projects can create a sense of flow once a person is caught up in the process. Remember that although there is nothing necessarily wrong with being immersed in a game this can turn into an addiction through compulsion if a person cannot stop and other duties, relationships or activities suffer.
Gaming Addiction – It can be bad for your health!
Compulsive video gaming can do damage to a person’s body and mind. Adults can also suffer from the toll that hours of gaming has on the body as it site on a couch or at a computer desk, glued to the screen. Here are a couple of the things to keep in mind as danger of Gaming Addiction points for young people playing games:
- Unhealthy physical effects: Spending hour after hour, day after day in front of a device can damage the body of a young person. The lack of physical exertion has raised the alarm bells when it comes to weight gain, posture issues and even the increased risk of type 2 Diabetes.
- Social engagement issues: Despite video games often requiring interaction with others, it doesn’t always prepare young minds for social interaction in real life. The art of learning how to interact with others in the real world is an important skill that could be neglected because of video gaming.
- Drop in focus and attentiveness: There is a real concern that the movements and pace of video games could promote a loss of concentration in video gamers. Youngsters who sit in front of video games could become less interested in reading books which requires that the person reading uses more focus, prolonged attention as opposed to the fast movements and quick pace often required in video games.
- Avoiding of tasks: Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and personal development. Mature adults take on life’s challenges and are able to cope with adult issues because of what they learn as a teenager and all the things that happen in those formative years. Negative, painful emotions and social experiences of an awkward nature are dealt with as a teenager and the use of video games as an escape mechanism gives children a way to avoid the developmental challenges of growing up, and that has potentially negative ramification
- Increase in levels of anger and aggression: Both young children and teenagers who spend a decent amount of their time focusing on games which have combat, violence and fighting could display more signs of anger and aggression than their counterparts who don’t play those games. As a parent of those children, you should be aware of the contents of these games and understand the ratings systems used to control who plays those games.
- Injures: Flickering graphics, lights, and colours in video game could trigger seizure activity in some people. There is also medical evidence showing that compulsive game playing may lead to repetitive stress injuries of the wrists or hands, carpel tunnel syndrome being one of those injuries.To end off with, remember that compared to some of the other addictive disorders, video game addiction may not seem at all as serious. This is not a reason to ignore it. People close to video game addicts will be the first to remind you that there are many negative affects to this behaviour. If you are in doubt about video game addiction and how an addiction to winning can have potentially dangerous or negative effects on you or a loved one, consult a professional councillor or addiction specialist to find out more.
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