Positive and Negative Impact of Video Games

All throughout America highschool teens and young adults in college are playing video games. Of course all mothers think their child is “addicted”, but the truth is that these video games have a much bigger affect. Many researchers have conducted studies on the effects of video games on behavior, drug use, alcohol use, mental health, and of course overall addiction. Some say that video games are not addictive and have no correlation to any of the affects above. “This is all terribly misguided. Playing video games is not addictive in any meaningful sense. It is normal behavior that, while perhaps in many cases a waste of time, is not damaging or disruptive of lives in the way drug or alcohol use can be” (Ferguson and Markey 1). Although others have conducted studies to show that video games cause addiction, substance abuse, and mental health issues. “A number of studies have reported a co-occurrence between video game addiction and poorer mental health” (Loton, Borkoles, Lubman and Polman 1). After reading through all the studies it is clear that video games have an affect on mental health, behavioral issues, and addiction.

“Video game addiction can be defined as excessive and compulsive use of computer or video games that results in social and/or emotional problems; despite these problems, the gamer is unable to control this excessive use” (Pallesen, Lorvik, Bu and Molde 1). Due to the excessive use of video games violent behavior becomes a factor after an excessive amount of time playing violent games. In one survey about 8.7% of males were diagnosed as pathological gamers, meaning they act up and have behavior issues due to gaming. “These pathological gamers, compared to nonpathological gamers, had lower grade point averages (GPAs), had more trouble paying attention in class, were more likely to have been involved in a physical fight within the past year, were more likely to have friends who are addicted to video games, and were more likely to be diagnosed with attention disorders” (Schmitt and Livingston 1).

In a human’s brain there is areas related to pleasure of playing video games, it just so happens the same area relates back to the pleasures of drugs. “These areas of the brain — those that produce and respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine — are involved in just about any pleasurable activity: having sex, enjoying a nice conversation, eating good food, reading a book, using methamphetamines” (Ferguson and Markey 2). A study conducted on students who watch TV and play video games that was published in 2010, came to a conclusion that the more hours on electronics, the more likely students are to participate in substance abuse. “Mentary school-aged children who watch more TV and play video games have greater odds of reporting alcohol use and sniffing solvents” (Armstrong, Bush and Jones 125). Others have found that there is no correlation in the brain between the two activities. “Playing a video game or watching an amusing video on the internet causes roughly about as much dopamine to be released in your brain as eating a slice of pizza. By contrast, using a drug like methamphetamine can cause a level of dopamine release 10 times that or more” (Ferguson and Markey 2). I does make perfect sense that a drug would affect the human brain more that a video game, but according to multiple studies the amount time spent playing games, enhances the want to abuse substances.

Video games also are connected to stress, anxiety, depression and the influence of coping. These all relate back to every humans mental health, which video games can affect dramatically. Video games affect someone’s mental health the most through their coping strategies. A study done in 2015, found that “The use of maladaptive coping strategies provides some additional context for the many cross-sectional relationships reported between video game addiction and poorer mental health” (Loton, Brokoles, Lubman and Polman 576). Others have also concluded video games have no association with mental health. “The results of the present study suggest that video game use is not associated with an increased risk of mental health problems … video games seem to be linked to better intellectual functioning and academic achievement” (Masfety, Keyes, Hamilton, Hanson, Bitfoi, Golitz, Koc, Kuijpers, Leinskiene, Mihova, Otten, Fermanian and Pez 356). After reading both studies, and reviewing the data, it is important to for humans to have a good mental health, and that includes using all their coping strategies. Clinical have begun to benefit from realizing that video games are affecting coping skills.

Of course, video games cause an addiction. The time spent staring at a single screen playing games, not able to look away, is what most people would call addiction. One study refers to it as excessive gaming, either way it is not good. A study done in 2015 on the “Prevalence and Predictors of Video Game Addiction”, found that there are three types of gamers in this world. The first is called an “addicted gamer”, then there is “problem gamers”, and finally is the “engaged gamers”. Out of the sample of 24,00 people 1.4% were found to be “addicted gamers”, 7.3% were “problem gamers”, and 3.9% were “engaged gamers”. The same study also showed that more men than women are addicted, and the typical age group is from sixteen to thirty years of age. Some argue “Playing video games is not addictive in any meaningful sense. It is normal behavior that, while perhaps in many cases a waste of time, is not damaging or disruptive of lives” (Ferguson and Markey). Although people think they may not be addicted, and of course the mothers think they are addicted, the truth is studies are proving there are addicted gamers.

Video game addiction can also be connected to loneliness and depression, along with aggression. Which makes it a major psychosocial health issue. A study done in 1017, on the psychosocial health perspective of video game addiction found that “Lonely and depressed people are inclined to be immersed in games because the digital games can be a tool to solve their social problems in real life” (Jeong, Kim and Lee 208). They have come to this conclusion by really reading into the effect of each psychosocial variable on a person due to video game addiction. “People who suffer from depression are more likely to pay attention to playing games because they seek something to be absorbed in, or to be stimulated” (Jeong, Kim and Lee 207). Others would argue that aggression is the only psychosocial variable present in addiction, but Jeong, Kim and Lee would argue there are more variables that studies should recognize. Finally, the study found that loneliness is connected to video games because, “Individuals who suffer from psychological issues such as loneliness may lack social skills and may have low social competence in real life … to fulfill their needs that are not met in real life, or to escape from negative moods, they are more likely to play online games” (Jeong, Kim and Lee).

Of course with every addiction, comes a course of treatment, the only challenge is getting people to stop denying that they have a problem. Every study ends with the results, but all the authors also through in a treatment plan that clinicals should try. The study done in 2010, about substance abuse points out that there may need to be interventions held between the parents and their children. The study done in 2015, introduces a manual therapy as a treatment for video game addiction. The manual therapy consists of “cognitive behavioral therapy, short-term strategic family therapy, solution-focused therapy, and motivational interviewing” (Pallesen, Lorvik, Bu and Molde 1). The study done in 2015, on the relationship between stress, depression, anxiety and coping, suggested that clinicals consider hosting interventions. “Clinicians may also consider interventions that are shown to broaden and foster adaptive coping, and be mindful of the relative unimportance of diversion coping, with results instead indicating that a lack of approach and increase in withdrawal and resignation coping are both strongly related to symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression” (Loton, Brokoles, Lubman and Polman 576). Finally, a study done in 2017, on the psychosocial health perspective, points out all treatments needs to focus more on psychosocial variables, “future research related to game addiction policies needs to investigate the roles of such factors in user effects as primary determinants to the degree of game addiction” (Jeong, Kim and Lee 208).

Video games have been proven to affect humans in many ways, including; Violent behavior, substance abuse, mental health (stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness), and addiction. After reading all the studies, it is very clear that video games can affect the human mind and body dramatically. It was very easy to come to this conclusion, because out of all of the many studies conducted over video games, there were only two saying that there is no problems. There is more evidence pointing to video games causing all of these issues. Thus, video games can be very dangerous to today’s society.

Work Cited

  1. Armstrong, Kia E., et al. “Television and Video Game Viewing and Its Association with Substance Use by Kentucky Elementary School Students, 2006.” Public Health Reports (1974-), vol. 125, no. 3, 2010, pp. 433–440. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41435217.
  2. Ferguson, Christopher J., and Patrick Markey. “Video Games Aren’t Addictive.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Apr. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/video-games-arent-addictive.html.
  3. Jeong, Eui Jun, et al. “Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Digital Games More Easily? A Study of Digital Game Addiction from a Psychosocial Health Perspective.” International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 33, no. 3, Mar. 2017, pp. 199–214. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10447318.2016.1232908.
  4. Kovess-Masfety, Viviane, et al. “Is Time Spent Playing Video Games Associated with Mental Health, Cognitive and Social Skills in Young Children?” Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 51, no. 3, Mar. 2016, pp. 349–357. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s00127-016-1179-6.
  5. Loton, Daniel, et al. “Video Game Addiction, Engagement and Symptoms of Stress, Depression and Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Coping.” International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, vol. 14, no. 4, Aug. 2016, pp. 565–578. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11469-015-9578-6.
  6. PALLESEN, STÅLE, et al. “An Exploratory Study Investigating the Effects of a Treatment Manual for Video Game Addiction.” Psychological Reports, vol. 117, no. 2, Oct. 2015, pp. 490–495. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2466/02.PR0.117c14z9.
  7. Schmitt, Zachary L., and Michael G. Livingston. “Video Game Addiction and College Performance Among Males: Results from a 1 Year Longitudinal Study.” CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 18, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 25–29. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0403.
  8. Wittek, Charlotte, et al. “Prevalence and Predictors of Video Game Addiction: A Study Based on a National Representative Sample of Gamers.” International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, vol. 14, no. 5, Oct. 2016, pp. 672–686. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11469-015-9592-8.