Video games have been a fun source of entertainment since the 1970’s, with amazing advances in graphics and features that have been developed over the years. The video games that are played today are far more complex compared to the simplistic designs that were introduced in the early years. Now that these games are accessible 24 hours a day, instead of only on arcade machines, many people are turning to games throughout the day.
According to the World Health Organization, video game addiction was officially classified as a disease earlier this year. Gaming is a growing problem that is taking over the lives of people of all ages, especially teenagers and young adults. While many people understand the need to classify video game addiction as a disorder, others feel that the classification trivializes other diseases.
People suffering from video game addiction have a distinct pattern of behaviour, with gaming taking priority over other life activities. As people become hooked on video games, addiction can develop to the point where the person is impaired beyond an ability to control the time that he or she spends on video games. Even when negative consequences happen due to the increasing time spent gaming, the person is still unable to break the habit.
Video Gaming is a Process Addiction
Just because someone enjoys playing video games, it doesn’t mean that they are addicted to the activity. Games can be used to spark creativity and imagination, build cognitive skills, and create an activity to share in collaboration with friends and family members.
So, where is the line between someone who enjoys playing video games and someone who is addicted to the activity? If this condition is classified as a disorder, then a diagnosis is possible based on specific criteria: “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
As the gaming world has developed, video game addiction has become recognized as a newer process addiction. Similar to gambling, the player is rewarded by the excitement and rush that happens when winning. Then, this feeling becomes the motivation to continue playing the game. Winning can trip a release of dopamine in the brain, which elevates the mood and increases the energy associated with the activity. Dopamine also plays a factor in other types of addictions, including drug and alcohol addiction.
There are arguments that gaming is different compared to other types of process addictions since there are no material losses or financial stakes in the game. But, many industry specialists are starting to agree that video game addiction is a real problem that deserves attention and treatment as needed.
The Severity of Gaming Addiction
The real problem with video game addiction lies in the attitude the player holds towards prioritizing the game over any other aspect of life. As the addiction escalates, the person may choose gaming over their homework, their career, family gatherings, and social activities. It is common in this scenario for a person to begin self-isolating.
Eventually, a person with a video game addiction becomes unable to stop playing. The lack of social engagement makes it hard for the individual to interact with other people in real-world settings. Additionally, the constant mental stimulation can lead to issues with attention and concentration. Video games are filled with action and fast-paced sequences, causing children to lose interest in activities that require ongoing attention, such as reading.
Another negative side effect of video game addiction in children or teenagers is that the child avoids important developmental tasks. This point in life is essential for self-discovery. If the essential skills aren’t developed, then it can be hard for the teenager to move into adulthood and face the various responsibilities that need to be managed.
Additional research is needed to determine the true impact of gaming, especially on the developing minds of children. But, there’s no question that people are currently facing the reality video game addiction is a real problem. In some cases, it is necessary to turn to professional addiction recovery services to overcome the addicted behaviours.