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Addiction? How in the world can killing zombies on the new Call of Duty or taking over galaxies in Halo turn into an addiction? Video games are cool, awesome, fun, and entertaining so how can they also become addictive? Sure you’ve probably seen a few of your friends get a bit obsessive as they sit in the house for 3 days straight trying to beat the next level, but can it really be bad for your health?
In short… the answer is yes. While reputable sites like Web MD and American Addiction Centers talk about addressing the issue of video game addiction, there are still some medical professionals and scientific experts who believe otherwise. As controversial as this topic is, there are studies that have proven that prolonged, constant use of video games can lead to adverse health issues.
Is Addiction to Video Games Real?
When most people think of addiction, they think of drugs or alcohol. You think of someone who gets high and goes through great lengths to achieve that high on the daily basis. While this is a true categorization for addiction to drugs and alcohol, the same can be said for someone who is addicted to things like gambling, sex, food, and video games.
According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, of the students that were asked about playing video games on the regular basis, approximately 6 to 15% of them showed signs of actual addiction. While this is certainly a small percentage, what was discovered is that there is a very thin line between being an excessive gamer and someone who is addicted to video games. Let’s take a look at the small differences:
Excessive Use or Addiction?
Excessive use of video games is defined as someone who plays video games a great deal; however, it does not impact the rest of their lives (i.e. home, school, work life). While excessive playing might be a nuisance to others who don’t share the love of gaming, it does not cause any significant psychological or physical harm (if health issues do occur they are typically minor and temporary).
Someone who is addicted to video games on the other hand will find that the love of the game comes before everything in their life. They often feel anxious when they’re not playing the game and will spend excessive amounts of time playing games allowing other aspects of life to fall by the wayside.
Signs You’re Dealing with Addiction
At what point does your love of gaming cross the line? When does it constitute an addiction that requires assistance in treating? The line is very thin, but here are some factors you might consider:
- The inability to play games makes you upset
- You’re only happy when playing games
- You’re neglecting other aspects of life such as school and work
- You’ll spend money you don’t have to buy the latest games (i.e. money that is actually needed to pay bills)
- You’ve resorted to stealing games or money to purchase games
- No matter how long you play the game you still have no feelings to quit
Those suffering from video game addiction might also experience the following health issues:
- Poor eating habits (either eating the wrong things or neglecting to eat while gaming)
- Carpal Tunnel
- Social Isolation (with the exception of fellow gamers)
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor personal hygiene
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the occasional zombie killing, race car driving, galaxy takeover. However, if you’ve recognized yourself or someone you care for in the above mentioned signs, then it is important to get help. Though you may not look at it as an addiction, too much gaming can lead to adverse health risks. A person who is addicted to gaming ultimately neglects every other aspect of their life making it increasingly likely for them to develop serious mental and physical health issues down the line. Talking with a counselor or attending rehab that specializes in video game addiction are the best options for getting the help that you need.
It can be pretty commonplace to think of gaming as nothing more than a teenage (and young adult) pastime. However, if you or someone you know has been increasing the amount of time they spend gaming and it’s begun to compromise their personal and professional lives, it could be an addiction. In cases like that, getting help is imperative to your future well-being.