The Problems of Teenage Game Addiction

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 7
Words: 1900
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: College

The last decade has seen an exponential increase in the number of video and computer games, and there are clear signs that this trend is not about to change in the near future. This has made computer and video games part of most teenager’s daily lives as the number of those playing these games for various reasons such as competition, entertainment, to release stress and avoid boredom among other others gradually increases. A 2001 report by the National Institute on Media and Family indicated that internet and computer or video games have become ingrained features in most households around the world. Computer use, previously limited to office work, has found its way in various homes as the primary source of entertainment and fun. Griffiths (3) states that the current mushrooming of video and computer games in the market coupled with advancements in the game sophistication and complexity have made video and computer games gain wide-spread popularity in most countries across the globe. As with any new technology or media, specifically those aimed at teenagers and children; however some fears have been voiced on the potential detrimental social, psychological and physical effects of regular participation and, in some instances, a noxious level of pre-occupation with video and computer games; there is increased concern on the potential psychological and social effects that can result from this vital technology. The question that everybody is asking is whether it is possible for individuals to be addicted to games like drugs and other addictive behaviours. This question has generated opposing opinions among various stake holders. To answer this question one must first of all understand the meaning of term addiction.

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The term addiction refers to personality disorders, which encompasses drug abuse and alcoholism in addition to ‘impulse control’ and ‘substance related’ disorders, including eleven forms of drug or alcohol substances besides behavioural patterns like stealing (Kleptomania), pathological gambling etc (Griffiths 2). Most proponents of the game addiction concept argue that excessive game playing is addicting like other forms of addiction and therefore leading to the disturbance of an individual’s life and lives of those close to him. (Griffiths 8)argues that teenage game addiction should be considered a form of psychophysiological disorder as it may lead to tolerance, affective disturbance (irritability and depression), withdrawal symptoms (moodiness, tremors and anxiety) and disruption of social relationships. The opponents of this concept argue that obtaining pleasure by playing games cannot be compared with obtaining pleasure from drugs like heroin, cocaine and Bhang. Despite the controversies, most studies carried out on computer or video game addiction have indicated that overplaying of games has negative effects on an individual’s well being. Griffiths (6) points out that the more an individual plays video or computer games, the less likely they were to socialize with their household members; furthermore, the social circles were like to decline, and they suffered from loneliness and increased depression. When time spent on playing computer or video games or surfing the internet reaches a level that it hurts an adult or child’s social and family relationships, disrupts work or school life, that individual may find himself or herself in a sequence of addiction (TechAddiction 11).

To evaluate the potential effects of playing video and computer games on school performance, health, psychopathology, eye-hand co-ordination patterns of daily activities, personality and prosocial applications. a 2009 national study by Douglas Gentile, among United States children aged between ages of 8 to 18 years old indicated that more than 8 % of those taking part in computer and video games could be classified as game addicts based on the DSM criteria used for diagnosing addiction in gambling to (Iowa State University 1). In this study Gentile discovered that most pathological players spent more than twenty fours per week before computers or videos playing games are relative those normal players who were shown to spend half of this time. Others studies employed same DSM criteria as the one employed in studying other forms of addiction like pathological gambling, drug addiction among others. Researchers like Gentile (5), defend the employment of DSM criteria employed in studying addictive gambling by pointing out that computer or video game addiction resemble gambling in that they are both categorized as behavioural addictions and that they both fall in category of gaming industry; are primarily designed for entertainment purposes and are accompanied with either a negative or positive emotional feeling. For Gentile (6) computer or video games are only doomed addictive if they destroy several levels of functioning, like psychological , school, family, occupational and social functioning. Gentile (2) also pointed out that his study elucidated that more than 8 percent of individuals between 8 and 18 years taking part in playing games, were diagnosed with six or more pathological patterns contained in the DSM manual for diagnosing psychological disorders. In this study he found out that most of the addicted game players have spent many years playing, spent most of their time playing games at frequent intervals, were well conversant with rules and rating symbols, were found to have numerous attention problems in school, diagnosed with health problems, most of them reported having computer or video game platforms in their bedrooms, performed poorly academically, associated with individuals who were also pathological gamers and acknowledged to be addicted to games. Another important discovery of this study that has also been demonstrated by other studies is the fact that most individuals addicted to computer or video games were found to exhibit symptoms of attention problems like those exhibited by individuals AD/HD children.

But Wood (3), points out that various authorities have not accepted the definition of video game addiction as a form of mental disorder. According to him the using the criteria for diagnosing pathological gambling in diagnosing game addiction among teenagers is not acceptable since the two have significant qualitative variability between the two entities. To defend his stand, Wood Points out that pathological gambler take part in gambling because of monetary related issues including escape from their financial difficulties. He also points out computer or video games do not have same outcomes like those of other forms of addictions like illegal activities, health complications and monetary debts (Wetzstein 5). He also argues that determines of either positive or negative effects of games on other areas of one’s life is an individual perspective hence should be employed as criteria for categorizing games as a form of addiction. Commenting on the use of inability of gamers to control time they spend before computers playing games as criteria for diagnosing game addiction, he argues that there are numerous behaviours that have become people’s habits that cannot be controlled but yet have not been considered addictive (Orzack 4). He also points out that recent media reports on the detrimental effects of video or computer games have made society see virtual problems. Most individuals take part in computer or video games as a means of coping with their problems therefore any excessive game playing should be viewed as a symptom of an underlying problem and not cause. Wood (7) points out that since there are no studies showing game addiction among teenagers or individuals who are not having other problems, or indicating that video games have resulted in new problems that never existed in the society it is wrong to claim that video game addiction exists. Hence before people start pointing fingers at video games as the primary cause of problems among their teenagers and children, they should have should focus on wider emotional complications that may be pushing these children to excessive gaming.

On countering Wood’s claim against use of gambling criteria as a means for diagnosing teenage game addiction, Griffiths (9) points out that both pathological game playing and impulsive gambling share a lot of characteristics hence justifying the use of DMS criteria in game addiction context. He also argues against Wood’s claim that there is no clear correlation between game addiction and detrimental effects, by pointing out that numerous physical complications resulting from excessive gaming have been recognized including obesity as well as tenosynovitis. For him, spending a lot of time playing games is a clear indicator of addiction. TechAddiction (16) points out that numerous studies have indicated online video games that have no clearly cut finish points have the greatest potential of addiction. On Wood’s claim that game addition among individuals should be viewed as a symptom of other fundamental problems, Griffiths (14) points out all other forms of addiction like drug addiction and excessive and addictive alcohol consumption are also symptoms of other fundamental psychological problems. For Griffiths (17) any form of addiction should be defined not on theoretical context but on behavioural context. Game addiction is a reality since it meets basic definition of addiction for instance it offers a prospective for either a negative as well as negative rewards (TechAddiction 21). This article also points out Wood’s claim that game addiction is not a psychological disorder since it does not affect a large number of people taking part in playing is unacceptable because alcohol and gambling do not affect majority of their victims, yet are considered disorders. Another characteristic of video or computer games that permit their consideration as addictive, is the inability of those addicted to control urge to play i.e. they cannot stop taking part in these games despite their efforts to do so.

On commenting the group or gender that is most affected by game addiction Battaglia (3) states teenage boys are the highest risk of being addicted to games when compared to their female counterparts. This is attributed to the fact that most games are tailored towards boys. She also points that some of the common symptoms exhibited by teenagers include anxiety on when then next opportunity to take part in game playing comes, becoming annoyed when stopped from taking part in these games intensive strategizing on how to play the next game among others.

Whether teenage game is addicting or not it is affecting people’s everyday lives. For instance children are spending more time playing computer or video games at the expense of other important activities like education, house chores among others. It is also important to note most of the games in the currently in the market glorify violence as there central theme which in turn may influence the behaviour of those playing. There is need for more research in this field so as to develop a comprehensive treatment approach.

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Works cited

Battaglia, Emily. “About video games addiction.” n.d. 2010. Web.

Clark, Army S. “Detox for Video Game Addiction?”2006. Web.

Gentile, Douglas A. “Pathological video game use among youth 8 to 18: A national study.” Psychological Science, 20 (2009): 594-602. 2009. Web.

Griffiths, M. “Video game addiction: Further thoughts and observations.” International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 6 (2008):182 –185. Print.

Iowa State University. “ISU’s Gentile authors study finding nearly 1 in 10 youth gamers addicted to video games.” 2009. Web.

Orzack. “Computer addiction services” 1997.

TechAddiction. “Video Game Addiction: is it a “real” disorder?” 2010.

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Wetzstein. “are you addicted to video games?”.  2010.

Wood, R. “Problems with the concept of video game ‘addiction’: Some case study examples.” International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 6 (2008):169 – 178. Print.