Introduction by David Sanchez, MS, LPC, LCAS, Licensed Professional Counselor and Addictions Specialist.
As I am meeting with more and more adolescents that are having a problems with excessive video game playing, I have noticed that this problem can truly be detrimental for their relationships, education and mental and physical health. If you notice your child, or someone else you care about, spending hours at a time playing video games, playing all night long, all weekend long, and giving up friendships and hobbies because of video games; then you may want to read this article below by Psychologytoday.com, published by Romeo Vitelli, PhD.
Even if your children/adolescents are not having a problem with excessive video game playing now, it may be a good idea to monitor them, and to read up on this subject as well as seeking a consultation with a licensed professional counselor. The main thing to know is that playing video games in moderation is generally not a negative thing, however; making sure your children are dealing effectively with anything that they may be trying to avoid or escape from, is a very important first step, if you notice their video game playing increasing.
Are Video Games Addictive?
Is it possible to become addicted to video games?
Post published by Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on Aug 19, 2013 in Media Spotlight
In 2005, Shanghai gamer Qiu Chengwei(link is external) stabbed a friend to death when he found out that he had sold a virtual sword belonging to Chengwei on eBay for 7,200 yuan ($738). After narrowly avoiding a death sentence, Chengwei was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 2009, an Ohio court sentenced 17 year-old Daniel Petric(link is external) to 23 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his mother. Petric had shot both his parents after they took away his copy of Halo 3. During his trial, the court was told that Petric had become addicted to the game after being left housebound following a jetski injury.
In 2011, Rebecca Colleen Christie(link is external) was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a New Mexico court for allowing her 3 ½ year-old daughter to die of malnutrition while she spent hours playing World of Warcraft.
Is it possible to become addicted to video games?
While addiction remains a prime concern in most societies, whether drug addiction,alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, etc., becoming addicted to video games seems more controversial despite high-profile cases like the ones listed above. Media stories about extreme cases of video game addiction, especially online games, goes back to at least 1993 when Wired ran a story(link is external) on MUDs (multi-user dungeons) and the players who become addicted to them.
In the newly-released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(link is external) (DSM-V), Internet Gaming Disorder has been included among the conditions being considered for future study and possible addition to later DSM editions. At this time, however, video game addiction (GA) is not considered to be a mental disorder. Yet research suggests that 0.5 percent of all gamers(link is external) and 1.7 percent of ninth graders experience symptoms associated with excessive video game use. Along with Online Gamers Anonymous(link is external) in the United States, clinics for video game addicts have been established in countries around the world including China, the Netherlands, and Australia. Even conventional addiction treatment clinics have been noting a rise in referrals for gaming addiction.
Adolescents (particularly male adolescents) seem especially prone to video game addiction though identifying young people who are vulnerable can be difficult given how popular gaming is in people of all ages. While researchers have linked excessive gaming to different personality factors such as impulsiveness, higher acceptance of violence and lower social skills, gamers having trouble coping with their lives in general can be vulnerable as well. Not only are people dealing with excessive stress and general unhappiness in their lives more likely to become addicted to video games, but gaming addicts are also more likely to be diagnosed with other disorders. These related diagnoses can include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and anxiety.
But what other risk factors are associated with gaming addiction? Though researchers have looked at amount of time spent online as a risk for addiction, type of video game may be important as well. Not only are role-playing gamers more vulnerable to addiction but so are shooter and strategy gamers.
The motivation for playing also seems to be a factor in addiction. People who game for fun or socializing are less likely to become addicted than people who are caught up in the need for status or simply to escape from the problems in their lives. If you’re dealing with real-life failure, escaping from that stress by playing games that give you a sense of victory or control over your life can be a helpful way of coping. Spending too much time online or “shutting out” the real world with intense gaming can be a different story, though.
When it comes to problems in socializing that might make gamers especially vulnerable to video game addiction, the following factors seem to be important:
Lack of successful experiences in real life
Low parental support
High video game use by parents
Divorce or separation of parents
Behavioural problems or problems at school
Truancy from classes
Repeating a grade