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Addicted to Games?

March 13, 2009 by  

Addicts exist in all forms of society, be it alcohol, gambling or video games. Video game addiction is the latest to pop up in the media as being a great concern for today's youth. According to some studies, nearly 10% of American youth (ages 8-18) are clinically addicted to playing video games.

Should you, parents and authorities be concerned?

According to one study, approximately 23% of youth felt they personally were addicted to video games, while 44% claiming their friends are addicted. Assuming that addiction is generally a negative phenomenon, these youth are concerned about themselves and their peers.

Potential negative eddects of video game addiction are:

Detachment from reality

Gamers who spend many hours playing games are by definition not paying attention to what is happening in the world around them. They can become interested in the fantasy or make-believe world inside the game than in the real world.

Violent Personality

Many adults have raised concerns about the violent nature of many video games. Indeed, at least a few cases exist of teens acting out the actions modeled in games, although hard data is hard to com by.

Games such as Grand Theft Auto include theft and sexual crimes. Parents obviously are concerned about their children taking part in these activities, even if it not "real".

More common is the "war" type of game where the gamer merely shoots another combatant.

Impact on Physical Fitness

Just as having a desk job often correlates with an overweight condition, so young adults who are heavily into video gaming have a tendency to be overweight. Clearly when sitting on a couch or the floor playing a game, one cannot be burning off many calories, although the Wii Sports and Wii Fit have addressed this issue to a degree. In addition, many gamers tend to snack on junk food and sugar-laden soft drinks while playing for long periods of time, which as a regular diet can cause obesity and diabetes in the future.

Mental development and thinking habits

Gamers addicted to playing video games may also suffer in their mental development, especially if homework and reading are neglected. While some gamers have argued that many games require critical thinking to play them successfully, others point out the nature of the typical game is quite limited in scope. In other words, one is limited by the world in which the game developer wished to create. Also, video games have been accused of reducing children's attention spans, both in and out of school.

Gamers' perspective

In response to claims of video gaming addiction, gamers point out several facts. First, addiction can take many forms, and video gaming addiction is much less harmful than say, alcohol or drug addiction.  Second, many adults have addictions such as to caffeine and sugar and they seem to function reasonably well in society.

Advancing video game technology means games are becoming more realistic and immersive. This may mean an increase in video game addiction. The debate as to whether video game addiction is truly harmful will continue to be hotly debates, as gaming is becoming one of the biggest forms of media to date. The industry is on par, even in front of, the movie industry in terms of revenue.

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