Every generation embraces at least one new form of technology. Often, the older generation worries that the new technology will destroy the foundation of civilization. Video games are no different, and virtually every child who grew up with video games has heard a parent complain that the games rot brains, destroy families, or interfere with homework.
While video games are often the subject of unfair derision, they can become a serious, addictive problem. Video game addiction is a serious matter that can destroy relationships, throw careers off-kilter, and leave people struggling to rediscover their place in the world.
The Controversy Surrounding Video Game Addiction
Like video games themselves, video game addiction has long been a subject of controversy. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM-5, doesn’t list video game addiction as a mental health disorder, though the American Psychiatric Association argues that internet gaming problems warrant more research.
Even though video game addiction isn’t a formally recognized disorder, concern about the risks of video game addiction is widespread. The creators of the mobile game Flappy Bird, for example, removed the game from app stores partially due to concerns about addiction to the game.
Indiana University doctoral student Drew Zaitsoff argues that research into gaming addiction sometimes conflates dedicated playing with addiction. He’s developed a survey to analyze addictive versus enthusiastic gaming behavior. If you’re interested in helping Zaitsoff’s research, you can take the survey here.
Is It Addiction or Just Enthusiastic Gaming?
Zaitsoff hasn’t yet completed his research, and research into the nature of video game addiction remains limited, with mixed and often contradictory results. If you’re concerned about your own gaming or the gaming practices of a loved one, though, consider the effect gaming has on your life. Rather than evaluating how much time you spend gaming or how much you enjoy it, evaluate your symptoms. If you experience several of the following symptoms, it could be time to seek help:
- Do you feel abnormal or like you’re going through withdrawal when you can’t play video games?
- Do you routinely abandon other responsibilities for games? Procrastination is common, but ignoring everything you need to do for days or weeks could be a concern.
- Have others complained about the effects of your gaming?
- Do you find that you need to play for longer and longer periods to get the same satisfaction?
Video game addiction doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up gaming altogether. Indeed, video gaming can have positive social, cognitive, and emotional effects. Just like any other behavior, though, when gaming becomes the sole focus of your life, therapy can help you put things back into perspective.
- Good, O. S. (2014, May 11). Researcher seeks to draw a line between games addiction and ‘highly enthusiastic’ play. Retrieved from http://www.polygon.com/2014/5/11/5706630/games-addiction-research-study-survey-Indiana
- Internet gaming disorder [PDF]. (2013, May). American Psychiatric Association.
- Shoichet, C. E. (2014, February 11). Developer yanks ‘Flappy Bird’ after game soars to success. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/09/tech/flappy-bird-removed-from-app-stores/
- Video games may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds. (2013, November 25). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/11/video-games.aspx
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