In order to relax and distract from problems or daily routine, people tend to dedicate their time to hobbies. Some individuals prefer singing, cooking, or painting, whereas others are fond of gaming. On the one hand, playing video or online games can be considered an important tool for education and character development. On the other hand, this habit can develop into addiction that makes people neglect other hobbies or friendships. At the same time, modern researchers still have not found a consensus on how and when a typical hobby becomes an addiction. However, it is a widely known fact that the lack of control over gaming can result in physical health issues, such as obesity, and sleep disorder, as well as problems in personal and professional life.
Even though there is no scientific explanation for the term “gaming addiction” some health organizations share their own understanding of this process. For instance, the American Psychiatric Association determines the problem as a “brain disease that is characterized by the inability to control the process of playing games” (112). In fact, gaming is often perceived as a global issue, as this kind of hobby has a vast spread in the whole world. It is estimated that nearly 97% of all young adults play at least one game on a regular basis (Brilliant et al.). However, playing games is not always a sign of addiction. In fact, if people are able to control the amount of time consumed by gaming, they are not diagnosed with Internet gaming disorder. In general, it is predicted that approximately two billion individuals play video and online games worldwide (Heiden et al.). As a result, it makes the gaming industry one of the most successful revenue streams in America. When it comes to the most popular games selected by players, it is essential to highlight the Fortnite Battle Royal and World of Warcraft (Kühn et al.). In fact, the popularity of these games can be explained by a comprehensive promotion on different media platforms (Zastrow). Despite the fact that scientists still argue regarding the reasons why gaming can become an addiction, they agree on the fact that this activity can trigger the release of dopamine (Pallavicini et al.). It is the hormone that provides the drive and a high level of energy. For example, it can be released in the bodies of individuals addicted to alcohol or various substances (Palaus et al.). Therefore, uncontrolled gaming can be compared to other addictions, such as alcoholism or substance use.
Signs of Gaming Addiction
Although the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Diseases does not consider gaming an addictive disorder, this system has detected some common symptoms among people who face game overuse. If the person has at least five symptoms from the suggested list, they can be diagnosed with the addictive disorder (Gros et al.). Moreover, the detected symptoms should be experienced throughout no more than one year (Wittek et al.). These signs are represented by uncontrolled thinking about gaming; the inability to quit playing; the lack of motivation to engage with other hobbies; the neglect of problems in personal and professional life (Wang et al.). Furthermore, DMS-5 highlights other signs of the addictive disorder, including lying about the amount of time dedicated to gaming, using gaming to ease the bad mood, and experiencing negative emotions without games (Wang et al.). Once five or more signs are noticed, it is important to make an appointment with a doctor who would be able to provide appropriate medical help. Otherwise, the hobby can turn into addition associated with physical and mental health issues.
Health Risks and Concerns
When it comes to health risks and concerns related to gaming, this addiction can be considered extremely dangerous. For example, there is evidence-based information regarding the consequences of alcoholism and substance use, whereas gaming is frequently underestimated (Aliyari et al.). Therefore, it is important to analyze the existing information related to the topic (Saquib et al.). It is expected that compulsive gaming can result in a sedentary lifestyle, social isolation, concentration issues, avoidance of developmental tasks, unpredictable aggression, and stress injuries (Peracchia and Curcio). Each of these health risks can significantly worsen the quality of life.
For instance, the psychical complications of gaming addiction can be represented by weight gain, poor posture, and an increased risk of diabetes (Özçetin et al.). In some cases, these psychical issues can result in death. In turn, social isolation is one of the primary causes of depression and anxiety experienced by people in the whole world (Chung et al.). Additionally, the lack of social engagement is associated with other addictions, such as substance use (González-Bueso et al.). Attention issues can cause problems in education, as the person with this addictive disorder is not capable of learning new information and developing critical thinking skills (Nasution et al.). Lastly, gaming has become of the major causes of divorces, which negatively impacts the family institution. For instance, 15% of all divorce cases are determined by the inability of one of the family members to overcome playing addiction (Lee et al.). Hence, gaming addiction is a considerable problem that should be addressed in the nearest future.
Treatment of the Addiction
Once the decision to ruin the gaming addiction is made, it is essential to follow specific recommendations provided by social workers and healthcare providers. First, individuals should make attempts to stop gaming by themselves (Taechoyotin et al.). Sometimes, it can only be done by breaking the computer equipment or joining a wilderness retreat (Kök et al.). However, if the individual is not able to overcome the addiction without the help of other people, they should make an appointment with a doctor (Kimmig et al.). The treatment plan for patients with Internet gaming disorder depends on the severity of detected symptoms. Most frequently, the person is treated with cognitive development therapy, which helps replace negative behavior with positive actions (Columb et al.). For example, it can be suggested to replace gaming for other hobbies, such as playing football, dancing, fishing, language learning, or running (Basol and Kaya). If the patients are also diagnosed with mental health issues, they can be prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
Advantages of Gaming
Simultaneously, it is essential to be able to differ a typical hobby of gaming and addiction disorder. If the individual is capable to stop gaming anytime in order to dedicate time to other areas of life, it can not be considered an addiction (Gentile et al.). Conversely, this hobby is associated with numerous advantages. Some of them are an increase in memory capacity, improved vision, and development of learning skills among children (Homayoun). Accordingly, controlled gaming can be beneficial for the overall well-being of individuals.
In turn, there is a variety of examples when gaming addiction ruins the lives of individuals. For instance, Ian, a citizen of the United Kingdom, had enjoyed a family and full-time job until he developed gaming addiction at the end of the twentieth century (Reynolds). When the person reached the point of refusing to spend time with family and working, he was referred to Primrose Lodge, the UK treatment center. As a result, the highest quality treatment has helped this man ruin negative addiction.
In conclusion, gaming is a process that can impact the lives of people both positively and negatively. In case some of the signs highlighted by DSM-5 are noticed, it is important to take appropriate measures to overcome the addiction. It is recommended to begin with personal efforts, such as limiting time dedicated to gaming and ruing computer equipment. If these actions do not help improve the quality of life, the person should visit a hospital and ask for medical help.
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