Video game addiction is an impulse control disorder that is similar to that experienced by those suffering from gambling addiction. Video games activate the same regions of the brain of video game addicts as those activated when drug and alcohol addicts are in proximity to drugs and alcohol.
While most people associate addiction with substances, such as drugs or alcohol, doctors recognize addictive behaviors as well. Psychiatrist Michael Brody, MD, set forth the following criteria:
The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going.
If the person does not get more,he becomes irritable and miserable.
Compulsive gaming meets these criteria, and she has seen severe withdrawal symptoms in game addicts. “They become angry, violent, or depressed. If [parents] take away the computer, their child sits in the corner and cries, refuses to eat, sleep, or do anything.
“The lure of a fantasy world is especially pertinent to online role-playing games. These are games in which a player assumes the role of a fictional character and interacts with other players in a virtual world. An intelligent child who is unpopular at school can “become dominant in the game.” The virtual life becomes more appealing than real life.
The gaming industry has become so huge that it is now a multi-billion dollar business and they are continually exploiting ways to get more people hooked on their product.
Pew Research Center found that 49% of adults play video games on either their computer, television, game console, or a portable device such as a cell phone or tablet. Other research has found that approximately 88% of American youth play video games, and 9% of children and teens, ages 8 to 18, show signs of video game addiction.
Video Gaming Addiction Signs and Symptoms
- Less efficient at work or school
- Preoccupation with the game
- Spending too much time playing
- Becoming less sociable away from the computer
- Unable to control playing habits
- Lying about how much time is spent playing video games
- Playing video games to escape from problems
- Over the course of a week, video games are played an average of 20 hours.
- Young males are more susceptible to video game addiction than females.
- Addiction to video games correlates strongly to deficiencies in managing relationships, a strong need for intellectual validation and a thrill-seeking mentality.
- Online role-playing games are chiefly responsible for video game addiction.
The American Psychiatric Association just June 2017 considers video game addiction or compulsive gaming a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Many mental health and behavioral health experts consider the condition to be real and serious.