Gaming Addiction: Lost in the Virtual World
Gaming—online or offline, first-person or multi-players, console, PC, tablet, or mobile phone—provides lighthearted fun and entertainment and is a great way to keep boredom at bay.
Video games have become an integral part of life for more and more adults, teens, young children, and even toddlers.
Whether you are waiting in line, on public transport, in the restroom, or in any situation where you find yourself idling, out comes the mobile phone and let the gaming begin.
Surprising Benefits of Video Gaming
Before we delve into the harmful effects of video games, it’s pertinent to know that research has found evidence that playing video games:
- reduces stress,
- overcomes dyslexia,
- promotes teamwork, and
- enhance your decision-making speed.
It can even help improve your hand-eye coordination. This is excellent news if you are a fighter pilot, race car driver, or surgeon (or patient of such gaming surgeons.)
The Dark Side of Video Gaming
However, the fascination with video games and the digital gaming world is not without its drawbacks.
In March 2010, a South Korean couple was indicted and convicted of child abuse and neglect following the suspicious death of their infant daughter.
The couple spent an average of ten hours a day playing online video games, fed their daughter only once a day—resulting in dehydration and malnutrition—while immersed in the upbringing of a virtual child. Such was the irony.
When Virtual Killing Becomes a Reality
Children and young adults are impressionable. They are not known for having much restraint or self-control. When online violence—from kicking and punching to stabbing and hacking to shooting and bombing—is added to the mix, the outcome is a disaster waiting to happen.
Case in point, CNN reported on August 26, 2013, that an “8-year-old shoots, kills elderly caregiver after playing video game”.
The Huffington Post published the story of Nathon Brooks, a 14-year-old boy who allegedly shot his sleeping parents over video games and of the ‘Killer Teens’: Boy Shoots Both Of His Parents Over Video Games.
Warning Signs That You May Be a Gaming Addict
Signs and symptoms of video game addiction (internet gaming disorder) include:
- You spend 1% of your toileting time doing your “business” and the rest of the time gaming.
- Worsening performance at school, work, or household responsibilities due to preoccupation with gaming.
- You wake up early or sleep later…to play video games.
- You neglect your social life, other previously enjoyed activities, personal hygiene or grooming.
- You say: “I’ll stop. Just one more level.” more times than you can remember.
- You have great difficulty or are unable to limit the time spent on gaming.
- Gaming became an escape from stressful or unpleasant situations.
- You show signs of irritability, restlessness, or emotional disturbance when gaming is restricted.
- You suffer from symptoms of physical or psychological withdrawal like sleeplessness, agitation, loss of appetite, or fit of anger if access to gaming is prevented.
In general, your gaming behaviour patterns must be extreme enough to impair your personal, family, social, educational, and/or occupational functioning significantly.
What Causes Video Game Addiction?
Researchers are still attempting to pinpoint the precise reason behind internet and video game addiction and the addictive properties of video games.
To date, researchers speculate that the act of playing and winning video games cause dopamine release. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that plays a crucial role in several bodily functions, including pleasurable reward and motivation. It is also involved in other disorders, such as gambling and substance abuse.
Recent neurological investigation reveals brain similarities in people with video game addiction and substance use disorders.
What Do I Do if a Loved One or I Had a Video Game Addiction?
If you are worried about yourself or a loved one’s potential video game addiction and related issues, please feel free to contact us. While the vast majority of gamers don’t develop behavioral problems, video gaming can become all-encompassing and have a negative impact on your daily lives. It is critical to get treatment as soon as possible.