Video games are a form of entertainment whereby players or participants interact with the objects displayed on a digital interface or a screen. Personal computers, arcade machines, and consoles are usually used to run video games for entertainment. In most cases, video games are popular amongst children who find it enjoyable while engaging themselves in the games. Therefore, video games have significantly affected the way children play, interact, and live with others, implying that the form of entertainment plays a considerable role in shaping up their lifestyle. After the introduction of video games in American society with the primary aim of providing entertainment to children in the early 1950s, there was no controversy as it is today (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Smith, & Tosca, 2013). In this respect, the industry thrived into a multi-billion sector as more technological advancements favored the penetration of the video games in various households. Thus, more children use video games as part of their lives owing to the ever-developing digital world, thus abandoning the traditional indoor and outdoor games.
Over the past three decades, video games have developed into an integral part of people’s culture since the values, attitudes, behaviors, and approaches to various aspects of life can be linked to gaming. Therefore, the frequency with which children engage in gaming activities cultivates addiction that in most cases, have detrimental results in their life. In this light, video game addiction could be likened to impulsive control disorder that is not associated with intoxication but has similarities to a pathological disorder. Therefore, video game compulsivity, especially among the young population, should be considered as a serious problem that requires attention to curb its negative impacts on an individuals’ life, relationships, and health, among other aspects (Ferguson, 2007). In this concern, this paper seeks to delve into the exploration of video game addiction and its effects on individuals.
The development of video games can be traced from the early 1950s when computer science researchers started creating simulations and simple games. However, the form of entertainment gained popularity after the development of game consoles, computer games, and arcade video games thanks to the growth of digital technology in the early 1970s. Nutting Associates developed the first video game arcade, Computer Space in 1971, thereby paving the way for the development of other video games like Pong and Odyssey. From then henceforth, video games became part of the modern culture as technology supported the development of new games that display graphics of high quality, resulting in enjoyable interaction between the players and the interface (Ferguson, 2007).
Currently, the gaming industry has seen the development of eight generations of consoles that continue to undergo upgrading due to the increased needs of the market, especially the new generation target. X-Box, Wii U, and Play Station 4 that were developed by Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony respectively, are the popular games played by individuals, especially those in the younger age bracket. Additionally, smartphones have enhanced the accessibility of games through easy download processes implying that more people involve themselves in gaming activities (Carnagey & Anderson, 2005). For this reason, the pathological and compulsivity aspects of the activity have unceasingly affected more individuals resulting in adverse effects. In the context of this paper, the growth of the video games sector since the early 1950s up to date, making it a multi-billion dollar industry, has also contributed to negative implications on people’s life due to the issue of addiction.
In the recent past, several studies have portrayed that a considerable number of video gamers have developed a problem with controlling their urge to play the games. Excessive involvement in video games activities has the potential of seriously disrupting an individual’s psychological, physical, social, and health aspects of their wellbeing. Therefore, the issue of video gaming addition has turned out to become a worrying issue for children and adults. Drawing insights from the gambling industry that is also characterized by issues of addiction, the sector is highly regulated to curb the detriments of the activities that mainly manifest in the form of dependency. Conversely, gaming developers lack social responsibility provisions that prevent excessive engagement in the form of entertainment leading to addiction (Carnagey & Anderson, 2005).
Compulsivity and isolation from alternative forms of social contact besides video games interaction could result in addiction similar to that acquired through drug abuse. Because video game addiction develops at an early age, especially during early childhood and the elementary school period, obsession with the activity roots itself in the life of the players thereby, controlling their life (Skoric, Teo, & Neo, 2009). In this light, the players focus on in-game success instead of fostering their personal growth and development through beneficial activities. The aspect of gaming addiction manifests when it affects the player’s mood due to the preoccupation developed by video games. Therefore, understanding how video games affect an individual is necessary for mitigating the detriments on the person’s well-being.
Furthermore, video game addiction is prevalent in modern society as more children and adults depict symptoms that suggest the severe effects of too much time spent while playing. More children and young adults are preoccupied with games implying that they find it hard to carry on with their daily activities like schoolwork and their professional engagements (Skoric et al., 2009). Additionally, compulsive video game playing has resulted in repeated attempts by the players to stop the addiction but in vain. Players also spend more time in the game than they originally intended thereby, triggering feelings of depression, restlessness, and irritability as they put efforts to try and cut down the rate at which they game.
At school, video game addicts portray weariness and the tendency to fall asleep. Late completion of assignments and tasks is also an effect of the video gaming problem leading to declining grades. In worst cases, video game addicts have been reported to engage in violent activities at school or even dropping out. In the household setting, the pathological effects of gaming manifest in their behavior, as they prefer to be isolated and lie that they do not engage themselves in too much video gaming (Greenfield, 2014).
Objectives of the Study
This inquiry focuses on the attainment of specific objectives that would make the endeavor meaningful to the audience. Thus, the research seeks to analyze the addictiveness of video games. Further, the study purposes to identify the harm that results from video game addiction. Additionally, the essence of controlling the time spent in playing video games also attracts attention for this study as a means of combating the addiction. The background of video games as explained earlier is also an aspect of consideration for this paper.
Evaluating the importance and helpfulness of video games among teenagers in the current society would also be an area of focus regarding this paper. In this case, the individual experiences about video games and arguments that counter the issue would be addressed. Therefore, the paper’s objectives would facilitate the exploration regarding the addictiveness of video games, its detrimental effects, and essence of reducing time spent in video games, its importance to teenagers, and its relevance to an individual.
The research endeavor is based on the following research questions.
- How can video game addiction be harmful to an individual? What happens after a person gets addicted?
- How can video games turn out to be addictive?
- Why is it essential to regulate the time spent in video gaming?
- How did video games emerge and how significant is it for teenagers in the contemporary society?
- How helpful can video games become to an individual?
Significance of the Study
Any research endeavor should have considerable importance to the society as it seeks to find solutions to a particular problem. In this case, video game addiction is the problem that requires exploration to identify its fundamental aspects and develop the means of mitigating the problem. Therefore, understanding how addiction to video games develops is essential for the formulation of measures that would curtail its effects among the players.
Further, this study would foster comprehensiveness regarding the potential harm that can be induced by compulsive video gaming activities. An in-depth view of the results of addiction to video games would also promote the identification of the manifestations of the problem through an approach that is similar to the one for other addictive conditions. Since addiction is characterized by an individual’s involvement in a particular activity for an extended period, raising awareness regarding time regulation would facilitate in fighting video games addiction among teenagers. Moreover, controlled engagement in gaming activities could result in beneficial aspects that could assist in personal growth and development.
A vast array of sources contains information regarding the different aspects of video game addiction. In this regard, the literature review will be based on the particular dimensions of the problem on the research questions.
How video games become addictive
The development of video games purposed to foster aspects of education, entertainment, and challenge. However, after video games gained popularity in the 1970s, developers shifted from the educational and entertainment aspect as they introduced violence in the form of military force combats and police chases. The trend implied that the developers had to promote their sustainability in the industry by creating gaming consoles that could quickly gain popularity. In the 1990s, the notion that video game that entertained violence would significantly promote sales (Egenfeldt-Nielsen et al., 2013. All-time best sellers in the 1980s like Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat revolutionized the video games industry as more companies. Gaming companies like Nintendo who some of their games were labeled “No excessive blood and violence” later introduced video games involving violence. The move was after Nintendo lost its competitiveness in the industry since children were more addicted to violent games that its competitors invested in (Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007).
Additionally, addiction to video games is triggered by the difficulty aspect that requires the player to accomplish some task to move to the next level. The high score is a hook that ties the video gamer to keep on playing until they reach it as seen in games like Grand Theft Auto. Beating the game by leveling up all the stages or finding the next clue also cultivates addiction. Besides, addiction to video games could be fostered by the role-playing feature whereby the player acquires a unique character that has the capability of achieving a particular task. Furthermore, the discovery feature of modern video games keeps the player exploring imaginary world thereby encouraging compulsivity (Greenfield, 2014).
The negative effects of video game addiction
The addictive aspect of video gaming could be very harmful to the gamer concerning their daily life. Therefore, taking note of the manifestations that suggest the existence of the problem among the gamer is crucial for intervention measures to take place (Van Rooij, Schoenmakers, Vermulst, Van Den Eijnden, & Van De Mheen, 2011). Video game addiction occurs in a way that it affects the emotional and physical well-being of the player.
The emotional symptoms associated with the problem portray the emotional imbalances that the players experience. When the player does not engage himself or herself in gaming, they experience restlessness and irritability. Video game addicts go through thoughts preoccupation as they think about their previous and next gaming sessions. Further, isolation from other social groups, especially in the family setting to create more time for gaming, is also an emotional depiction of the process of addiction. Physically, video game addicts show fatigue and poor hygiene due to the time spent in gaming activities. Due to eyes strain or intense concentration, the users could develop Migraines. The Carpal tunnel syndrome could develop due to excessive use of the controlling pad or mouse (Van Rooij et al., 2011).
Video games are harmful due to several effects that they cause not only to the individual but also to the society in general. Specifically, the harmfulness of video game addiction is depicted by the greater tendencies of the player’s involvement in violence due to the development of aggressive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Social isolation is harmful to an individual sine it undermines healthy relationships with other individuals. The problem of separation could also imply that they hardly allocate time for schoolwork, sports, and learning activities (Skoric et al., 2009).
Addiction to video games could instill inappropriate values to the player owing to the rewards they get from playing the game. Since most video games reward vengeance, violence, and aggression, the players are socialized in a way that they uphold such values resulting in poor psychosocial development. For instance, women are depicted as weaker personalities and in most cases, sexually proactive. The adoption of bad language and behavior from other players especially from the online platform could expose them from online dangers vulnerability. Additionally, the confusion between reality and fantasy due to gaming activities could deter the individual’s sound approach to various engagements (Xu, Turel, & Yuan, 2012).
Video games pathological effects among children and teenagers negatively affect their academic performance. This aspect is attributed to the divided concentration in educational matters, as the participants are preoccupied with video games. The outcome could be attributed to skipping homework and adoption of video game habits at school. Furthermore, gaming compulsivity has the potential of inducing detrimental health effects. Health problems like video-induced seizures, obesity, and postural (Anderson et al., 2007). Video game addiction also causes muscular and skeletal problems like tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and nerve compression. Weinstein (2010) identifies auditory hallucinations, elbow and wrist pains, encopresis, and peripheral neuropathy as some of the health effects of video gaming. Moreover, depression and higher anxiety levels could develop from excessive involvement in video game activities thereby affecting the psychological equilibrium of the players, especially teenagers.
Essence of regulating time spent on video games
The amount of time spent while playing video games is a major determinant of whether one will be addicted or not. Recommendations for combating video game addiction provide that teenagers should only engage themselves in gaming for an hour in a day. The relevance of the strategy is that it reduces the chances of pre-occupation and compulsivity. Additionally, shorter sessions while gaming foster happiness among the players due to the ability to escape the hooks by limiting their time. Besides, controlling the time facilitates the reduction of hyperactivity thereby balancing their emotional state. Additionally, the essence of regulating time spent on video manifest in the players’ improved social life as they spend less time in isolation. In this respect, regulating the time used in video gaming has significant implications for children and teenagers especially in preventing addiction.
The significance of video games to teenagers in the contemporary society
Despite the addiction aspect of video gaming activities, teenagers in the modern society can benefit from the form of entertainment in several ways. One of the benefits entails following instructions since most games require the play to observe certain provisions before leveling up (Anderson et al., 2007). Video games also enhance the problem-solving and logic aspects of life among children and adults. For instance, games like Angry Birds require the player to come up with creative ways that require logic to reach the next level.
Video games enhance “hand-eye coordination and improve the motor and spatial skills of the player” (Gee, 2007, p. 114). The aspects of decision-making, planning, logistics, and resource management could also be fostered through video gaming as the player decides and plans what move to make using the available resources. Moreover, video games enhance an individual’s multitasking capabilities whereby they could track various shifting variables and the management of different objectives (Xu et al., 2012).
However, the degree to which an individual benefits from video gaming varies concerning the type of games they play. For instance, teenagers who engage in violent video games have lesser chances of solving problems in the most amicable way since they perceive violence as the solution.
Video game addiction should be treated like any other form of addiction that requires intervention. In this regard, addicts could seek medication that inhibits cravings for video games. Bupropion is one of the drugs recommended for video games addiction since it alters the brain’s chemistry (Ferguson, 2007).
Reducing the number of hours spent in gaming and strictly observing the limits is crucial in fighting video game addiction. Further, pathological video gaming could be avoided through asking family members or significant others concerning their perceptions regarding one’s video gaming trend (Gee, 2007).
Active parental monitoring is also advised to ensure that children do not engage in compulsive video gaming. The move would ensure that the player accepts the responsibility, and the parent intervenes in helping them to combat the adverse results in their daily living (Xu et al., 2012). Therefore, addicts of video games should consider the recommendations mentioned above to combat the problem that has impactful effects besides the benefits.
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Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., Smith, H., & Tosca, S. (2013). Understanding video games: The essential introduction. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
Ferguson, C. (2007). The good, the bad, and the ugly: A meta-analytic review of positive and negative effects of violent video games. Psychiatric Quarterly, 78(4), 309-16.
Gee, J. (2007). Good video games+ good learning: Collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
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