Is Video Game Addiction a Serious Problem?

Dr. David Walsh is the founder of the National Institute for Media and the Family (NIMF). To the public he is a prominent source in regards to game violence.

Below are two blockquotes from the interview he had with gamebyte.

“I played video games, and I’m not violent.”

I think the research on media’s impact on children is a very, very rich body of research. The bulk of that research is not on video games — the bulk has been on television, simply because it’s been around for so long. But there’s a great deal of research showing that media has an impact on kids. There’s actually a lot of research that shows that media has an impact on all of us, but our focus is kids. Now, every study, no matter what field you’re talking about, is an imperfect study. And that’s true whether you’re talking about cancer, whether you’re talking about heart disease, whether you’re talking about video game violence. And so a lot of the critics of the research will point to various studies and if it’s a laboratory research study, an experimental study like the type that Craig Anderson does, then you get the criticism that “this is such an unnatural situation, you can’t extrapolate anything from that.” Then, if you do real-world studies, the criticism is that “There could be this, that and the other variable that you didn’t control for,” which you can control in an experimental setting, but then…
So every study has its flaws, but as you know there’s a statistical procedure where you can actually take a look at a body of research when it gets big enough, and that’s called metaanalysis. And that literally calculates the probability that a body of research is incorrect. So you take these flawed studies, all of these imperfect studies, but enough of them point in the same direction, you can calculate “Well, what’s the probability that they’re all wrong?” The video game research field now is rich enough to do those metaanalytical studies, and the results of those studies show that indeed, these games do affect kids.

But it’s the nature of the effect that I think is important to pay attention to. The common thing people say is, “I played video games, and I’m not violent.” Well, of course! That’s not the way risk factors work. That’s the same as the person who says “Well, I eat McDonald’s, and I don’t have a heart condition.” And I think the risk factor interpretation is the one we should be using. What I think we know from the research is that video game violence is a risk factor for aggression for kids, the same way that a high-fat diet is a risk factor for heart disease. Now, if the only risk factor I’ve got is a high-fat diet, then my risk for heart disease is pretty low, but if I drink a lot, high-fat diet, I’m obese, I don’t get any exercise, after a while you’re going to start to say, “Dave, you’re a walking heart attack” — because I have an accumulation of those risk factors. Because violent video games are a risk factor that we can do something about, we have a responsibility to do that, just as a parent has a responsibility to get their kid to eat a healthy diet.

Is Video Game Addiction Real?

I think what’s happening, not just here in the United States but in other countries as well, is that there’s some percentage of gamers—and no one quite knows what the percentage is, different surveys have put it at different percentages—but for some percentage of gamers, it seems to become an obsession. Other things in their life get neglected, sometimes even their health gets neglected, their grades start to suffer, relationships start to suffer, and so it starts to bear all the behavioral hallmarks of an addiction. And so I think that’s why the term has emerged. Of course, the term itself is controversial, because there are some, particularly in academia, who say that addiction signifies something that has to do with a chemical change. A dependency to a chemical. But we do have other behaviors that are recognized as addictions, the most common example to bear would be gambling addiction.

Full Article Here

Gaming Addiction just a Symptom to a Bigger Problem?
I’ve recently read an article that was clearly written by someone who enjoys playing games. It defend gaming by saying that gaming addiction is just a symptom of a bigger issue whether that be depression, isolation or other social anxieties. It is argued that if games like World of WarCraft is given to someone who already has a good balance life, problems would not arise, because gaming addiction is like alcohol addiction where the problem stems from something else.

I think this is true, but that doesn’t mean gaming addiction is any less dangerous or able to affect someone’s life. This article ends by saying that the solution to helping gaming addiction is not taking the game away but figuring out the root problem.

The first commenter says to replace “game” with “drugs” or “alcohol” and see how semi-incorrect the statement truly is. Very insightful. I say take the game away so they CAN deal with the source of the problem.

Of course it’s possible that gaming addiction is a symptom of something deeper. I know many people who played games not just because they might be fun but because they wanted to escape from the troubles and difficulties of reality. But that can also be the case for drug addictions, alcohol addictions, eating disorders and so on. Because some addiction isn’t the root of a problem doesn’t make the addiction any less dangerous and something that needs to be dealt with. Even if it means taking the game away so they can man up and face the realities of life.

The “root” issue is something all people deal with. Not having purpose in life, not having meaning, being lonely, feeling like no one understands you, seeking true love, seeking true peace, and so on. Lot of these addictions are perverse ways of just trying to fill that sense of void. Unfortunately people are setting themselves up for let downs as these are only temporary and brings relief only for but a moment. So they must do it again and again in order to forget, avoid, and not deal with life problems.

Game Addiction is a serious problem because it adversely affects the person in their maturity, character development, dealing with life problems and it affects those around them. I am not going to go into the details of the many harms that come from this, but let’s be clear, video game addiction is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Being nice about it and letting someone waste away hours of their life saying that the problem is somewhere else is not going to help them deal with the issues at had.

  • Do you think Game Addiction is a problem?
  • What kind of adverse effects can Game Addiction have on a person?
  • Are games addicting in themselves or is it the case that there are root issues that cause people to be addicted to games due the way it can help a person escape from reality?

Share your thoughts!

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  1. Video game addiction is a problem quickly growing worldwide. Parents all over the world would leave their child to play console games in thinking that playing video games would make up for the loss time that they have.
    Unfortunately, most children would associate video games with parents not being present to spend time with them.
    Video games would usually tend to isolate a child. whether it may be a console game or an online game, a child would always be isolated in one place.

  2. I don’t really thing its any kind of problem to play video games i mean what harm can it really do, it is not like a hard drug or anything truely nasty. I think the same could be said about watching TV is that an addiction? I think not. Everyone does that everyday of theirs.

  3. Hey!!

    Playing video games become a trend for the kids and adults nowadays. There are several kinds of video games available in the market.
    What does the research really say about the effects of video game violence in the real world? The surprising conclusions are not as clear as many would like to believe.
    No doubt those violent video games do have some negative effects, but they appear relatively limited. If one plays these video games without addicting to it then it can give you several benefit and amazing experience.
    Thank you for the great sharing.

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