Are video games addictive?

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Evan Palmer, Entertainment Editor

Do you think video games are addictive?

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Almost everybody has played video games before. If you ask your parents, they will probably not hesitate to reminisce on old Nintendo games. 7 year olds are known to have adopted Fortnite references into their everyday language and perform the Orange Justice to the best of their abilities for unsuspecting Walmart customers. I don´t even play video games usually but sometimes I´ll start up Minecraft to keep myself from actually dying of boredom. Almost everyone plays video games casually or as a hobby but how much is too much?

An obvious extreme would be when an Ohio teenager shot his parents in October 2007 after they took away his copy of Halo 3. But there are way less extreme cases of video game addiction that are more common. The World Health Organization estimates that 3-4% of people who play video games are addicted. Your brain releases dopamine to reward you for doing things that are good for you such as spending time with friends or solving real world problems. A lot of addictions stem from this process and video games are filled with achievements and bonuses that will give you periodic bursts of pleasure from dopamine.

 

Symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Preoccupation with video games
  • Playing in increasing increments of time
  • Being unable to cut back
  • Playing longer than intended
  • Risked loss of significant relationships due to game use
  • Lying to conceal extent of involvement with game
  • Use of the game to escape reality

 

Don´t worry if you show some of these symptoms. That doesn´t necessarily mean that you are addicted to video games. Even if you do, video game addiction isn´t technically unhealthy. Yes, anything that you are putting before your own health and social life is bad. But are we blowing it out of proportion? In China, children are being taken to “boot camps” for spending ‘inappropriate’ amounts of time online. Are our attempts to control this addiction more dangerous than the addiction itself? Gaming in some cases has been shown to be healthy. According to The Guardian, “Dozens of studies have shown correlations between video game use and improved spatial processing, multitasking, attentional control, and perseverance.” Also having a hobby of any kind is good for your mental health.

So yes, video games can be addictive but we shouldn’t take extreme measures to control it. Video games can actually be good for your mental health and are usually non-detrimental at worst. If you are putting gaming as a higher priority than your own health and social life, then yes, you should try to cut back. But in most cases, there is nothing wrong with playing a lot of video games.