Featured image of the post: A video game controller which is wired to a brain
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Gaming As A Mental Disorder?

In June 2018 gaming was officially recognised as a mental disorder by The World Health Organisation (WHO).

There are still contradictory findings and arguments on whether it can actually be classified as such. At the very least, we have all played Super Mario or War Craft. No one I knew was deemed “addicted” or “sick”. My best friend used to play GTA when she was 12 until she turned 16. She is feeling alright now, she is 20 and hasn’t touched the PlayStation ever since. A question: When did game designers start putting addictive ingredients in their games? I decided to devote this article to video game addiction, as it is an issue which has to be discussed over and over again, and prevented at all costs. 

Super Mario Bros Pixel Art by Dylan Baugh vie Flickr.com
Image Attribution: ISuper MarioBros Pixel Art [CC BY 2.0], from Flickr.com
We have all had the ‘When I was your age’ lecture. It is not the most wonderful thing that could happen to you. That is why I don’t want this blog to sound like it. But it turns out to be quite inevitable as every aspect of life changes slightly every day.  My childhood will always stay in the period between 2000 and around 2011/’12. What I can do is write about how things have changed, for better or worse.

What The Violence In Video Games Can Cause

So if the so-called ‘gaming’ is indeed a disease, what damages are there to support this statement? Is it the violence which seems to be prevalent in the majority of games? I recently came across a Fox News interview (8 March 2018) with retired army lieutenant David Grossman, author of books on psychology of violence. Throughout the discussion he mentioned that the Norway Killer is believed to have been trained on violent video games. He went on to talk about how the American Psychological Association confirmed the link between violent behaviour and violent video games:

 

‘Their blood pressure goes up, their heart rate goes up, their violent actions go up, the data is persistently clear across many different forms – you can not deny it! It is overwhelming!’

 

Whos watching who by Nick Stirling via Flickr.com
Image Attribution: IWhos watching who [CC BY 2.0], from Flickr.com

Addiction Is Real

However, only discussing the possible effects of ‘gaming’ just doesn’t seem enough. Digging into the topic on the Internet provided me with some intriguing examples on children who suffer from actual addiction to video games. An article by Susan Scutti for The CNN e.g. showcases a 14-year-old teenager named Josh. He started ‘seriously’ playing video games at 5th grade. His days consist of sleeping in until 11 a.m./12 p.m. and spending the next 12 hours before the screen. His reaction to his parents’ attempt to help him by getting rid of all of his hardware, was ‘punching the walls, anger, emotional outburst’.

The Scientific Proof

Experts do get pessimistic when it comes to gaming. Psychologist Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, author of Glow Kids, has a very interesting standpoint on the topic. In another video published by Fox News, he states that:

 

‘Now we have both clinical and neurological brain image research over 200 peer reviewed studies that show that this (screen time)  has an addictive-like effect on a child.’

 

As a result of the above mentioned studies, obvious abnormalities seen on the MRI of a brain of an Internet addict are similar to these on the MRI of a opiate addict’s brain.

‘A child, that’s eight, nine, or ten years old, isn’t neurologically equipped to handle such a stimulating immersive product’

 

The Relentlessness Of Changes

Is this a change for the worse? Cases, such as Josh’s who was eventually sent to rehab, make us question what is wrong, and what we will do one day when we become parents. Is it getting worse? Scary is a weak word to describe the shift from playing Super Mario World just to kill time in the afternoon after school, to gaming taking over a child’s mind, replacing every outdoor activity and even basic human needs such as sleeping. Do parents even have control anymore?

 

My 11-year-old cousin was introduced to Pou when she was five, on her own tablet. When I was five, playing CDs with my favourite cartoons was the closest I could get to digital technology. Just how things have changed… 

Two kids sitting and playing a video game/'gaming'. They look pretty immersed in the game.
Image by Jessica Lewis via Pexels

 

The majority of children are not interested in the ‘old-fashioned’ way of growing up anymore. Who needs to breathe fresh air and see the sunlight when they can stay in their room and play with people from all around the world? Why go out, play ball with the neighbourhood kids and develop your bone and muscle system? Why learn to communicate with your peers, when you can have no eye contact. No normal human interaction. Just you and the endless virtual dream world of the game. Is that how we grew up? Certainly not…

 

If you missed my last blog post, you can catch up here.

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