Assassin’s Creed Origins, Legend of Zelda, Call of Duty, SuperMario, Resdient evil, Gravity Rush, Destiny – is your favorite game or a loved one’s favorite game listed? With thousand to choose from, video games are quickly becoming a favorite way to spend one’s pastime.
In some households, video games have turned from a hobby to an obsession. At what point does it become more than entertainment, crossing over to being problem some? Professionals, family members and people of all ages are beginning to ask this question. There is a debate about the benefits of gaming versus the potential negative effects it may cause.
Are video games harmful?
This is a loaded question with differing opinions regarding the answer. One thing to keep in mind, is that video gaming is a business; their goal is to design games to keep people playing. They keep the game just challenging enough to keep players coming back for more; keeping success just barely out of reach.
There are two major types of video games:
- Standard, one player games. The challenge is often related to completing a mission or beating a high score.
- Online, multiplayer games. These games have no ending. Gamers enjoy creating and becoming an online character, building relationships online.
One side of the argument is that video games encourage imagination, collaboration and sharpens cognitive skills, such as problem solving. When used for education and character development, it seems that there could be some lessons to be learned. For example, some games encourage the players to solve puzzles using math or patterns. Others require the gamer to play a role of a hero which may stimulate cultural awareness. Progressing through a game’s challenges may build perseverance and problem-solving skills.
On the other hand, there are only 24 hours in a day. Excessive time playing video games inevitably means that gaming is taking the place of another life activity. If the gaming is at the expense of academics, relationships and physical exercise, the benefits seem less certain. Video games are also shown to promote violence and social isolation. This too can be a problem if not carefully managed.
It seems that the common phrase, “everything in moderation” may come to play here. However, the question is remains:
How Much Is Too Much?
This is a difficult question, as it varies from person to person. The effects of playing games will always depend on a player’s attitude toward life in general. People who play for fun or to socialize are less likely to become addicted. Problems may arise when people choose to play to fulfill a status or they play as an escape from their daily life. These life factors are common vulnerabilities to a video game addiction:
- Lack of successful experiences in real life
- Difficulty with family
- Behavioral and academic difficulties at school
If you or a person you know has these factors, or is playing games to escape reality or to fulfil a status, it’s important to check the signs and symptoms and possibly speak with a professional:
Emotional signs or symptoms of video game addiction include:
- Feeling irritable when unable to play
- Preoccupied with thoughts of previous games and anticipation of upcoming games.
- Isolation from others, to spend additional time playing
- Lying about time spent gaming
Physical signs or symptoms of video game addiction include:
- Poor personal hygiene
- Lacking physical fitness or overweight
Why worry about it?
Like other compulsive disorder, a video game addiction can leave a person feeling off – with possibly of sleep problems and diet related health issues. Relationships may suffer, creating strife with families and friends. Longer term effects, may affect people by causing financial, academic and occupational consequences.
- Sedentary lifestyle may lead to health concerns
- Lack of social engagement in real life situations may lead to lacking important social skills to effectively communicate and interact at school and work.
- Avoidance of new experiences impedes a person’s ability to grow developmentally
- Long term concentration and attention may be compromised by the fast-paced video games.
- Increased aggression or violence experienced in games may lead a person to be less sensitive to it and it becomes more normalized.
Besides the possible consequences, it’s important to mention that studies have linked increased gaming time with reduced social competence. Also, for people who have a video game addiction, outcomes can be depression, anxiety, struggling in school and work and loneliness.
What can be done? How can we help?
At Thriveworks, Colorado Springs, we provide counseling for those wanting to find balance and control in their lives. If this means cutting back on their video game use, or stopping completely, we can help. We work with people of all ages, including children and adolescents. Parents, we understand how difficult parenting is, especially with the multitude of games and social media available. We will partner with you in helping your son or daughter find balance, joy and control in life.
Here is what you can expect from Thriveworks:
- You’ll talk with someone on the phone to set up an appointment. They will answer any questions you have.
- We don’t have a wait list and will be able to see you within 24 hours if you’d like.
- We know you are busy! We offer evening and Saturday appointments, if this works best for your schedule. Our appointments are on time 97% of the time.
- We take many types of insurance. You pay good money for your insurance. Let’s use it.
- Our modern and comfortable offices are relaxing. Enjoy our complimentary coffee and tea during the appointment.
We hope that you’ll give us a call. Try us out. 719-266-3919.