It is normal to be a little obsessed with a new video game, especially kids. Sometimes the obsession can turn into an addiction which can have a damaging effect on their mental health and well being, especially if it is a violent game. If the obsession or signs of obsession or addiction lasts longer than 3-6 months then it may be worth seeking professional psychological help.
Experts including Dr. Michael Fraser, a clinical psychologist on the upper East Side and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College have stated that violent video games can be as addicting as drugs as “It affects the same pleasure centres in the brain that make people want to come back,”.
Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist and founder of the Centre for Online and Internet Addiction in Bradford, Penn with over 19 years of researching internet-based addictions also agrees with this statement and has found that “If you look at alcoholism and Internet addiction, it’s the exact same pattern of behaviour,” with a definite “correlation between violent game use and aggressive behaviour”.
Experts on video game addiction have found that kids are among the most vulnerable to violent game addiction and become violent when their ‘drug’ is taken away. Dr. Michael Fraser has found that “Kids can become physically and verbally abusive” when their game is removed from them with parents finding that their child will push their mother violently when she tries to unplug the game.
Games like ‘Call of Duty’ are seen to be the most addictive as they are open-ended which make them more addictive. Like any activity, these games must teach their players something, Dr. Young has found that “When you’re actively participating, looking at various weapons, getting reinforcement and recognition for your achievements from the game and from other players…I think it desensitizes you”.
Video game addiction can usually point to other mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and trouble forming healthy relationships. Many addicted to these games use them as a means of escape from their lives like a drug. Like any addiction some people are more susceptible to addiction than others, “In other words we wouldn’t want anybody to think, when we use the term ‘video game addiction’ or ‘compulsive gaming’ that the problem lies in the video games, any more than the problem for an alcoholic lies in a can of beer,”. Dr. Michael Fraser has said that “Many people can have one can of beer, and that’s it. But others may have a biological predisposition towards addictive behaviour in general.”
Extreme cases such as Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, who kept a videogame-style score sheet of past murders, may be rare, but Dr. Michael Fraser and Dr. Young agreed that parents need to actively set usage and access boundaries to these games for their children with monitoring being very important. Monitoring is a huge problem for parents as they do not always know what their child is doing on their computer or games console and therefore it is not always obvious that they are doing something detrimental or harming.
Currently, there is no formal diagnosis for video game addiction but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. From this year, a variety of Internet-related psychological will take a major step towards in being recognised when they are mentioned for the first time in the updated manual of mental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association, under the heading ‘Internet use gaming disorder’. This should mean that more research can be carried out into this addiction and create a greater understanding of what video game addiction is and how it can be treated.
Symptoms of addiction to violent video games can include…
- Secrecy or lying about use
- Spending more than 24-30 hours a week online not for work or school
- Mood shifts, such as increased irritability, if access is taken away
- A significant decrease in other activities and interests
- Neglecting friends, family and other responsibilities
- Sleep problems
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
f you or someone you care about is seeking video game addiction, give Rehab Recovery a call today on 08000 886 686 for immediate and confidential advice to help you take the first steps on the path to a happier and healthier life.
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