According to Douglas Gentile, a psychologist from Iowa State University, approximately 3 million children ages 8 to 18 are addicted to video games. His study involved 3,034 children and revealed that on average, people are spending approximately 20 hours a week playing video games. The number of children playing estimates that approximately 72 percent of American household play video games. Nine percent of the children studied had symptoms that correlated with video game addiction. Video games aren’t just for children, though – many adults play as well. Video games can become addicting for several reasons:
- They are challenging. Video games are designed to challenge players to access levels or defeat certain characters – there is an addiction that can be found in beating a level and gaining access to another. Video games often provide enough challenge for someone to want to keep playing, but not too hard of a challenge to where the person wants to give up.
- They provide the person with an online community of shared meaning. Researcher Daria Kuss from Birmingham City University in her 2013 study titled, “Internet gaming addiction: Current perspectives” explored views of online gaming and found that video games often embed the gamer in shared beliefs and practices, giving them special meaning to their game.
- They allow people to escape. Addictions.com, an online community focuses on recovery and treatment, notes that many players find enjoyment in video games because they allow them to escape reality. This need for escape is described as another component to addiction.
While video games may provide a way for people to feel better and cope with their problems, it can become an addiction. Science Daily, a website that provides updates on the latest science research, explains that video games can make attention and visuospatial skills more efficient, but can also increase levels of dopamine, leading to addiction. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for good feelings and happiness. If someone plays a lot of video games, their dopamine levels may increase and cause them to want to continue that feeling by playing more and more. Research has shown that video games can lead to increased risk of anxiety and depression.
If you feel that you may be addicted to video games, you should speak with a therapist right away. Therapy can help you work through your problems and help you discover why you are relying on video games. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a popular approach that can help you restructure your thoughts towards more positive, productive ways of thinking.
If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, call Avalon Malibu today. We will be there with you every step of the way; we believe in holistic, integrative treatment, meaning that we will promote wellness of your mind, body, and spirit. Take that first step. Call us at 855-408-8934.