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Video Game Addiction
A majority would probably agree when you say that video games are addictive. There are enough stories out there of young people who get so hooked on video games that they are unable to function normally through their schooling. There are even some places where overindulgence to playing video games has led to the loss of lives. Take for instance the video below which shows how South Korea, known to be, “The Most Wired Place on Earth,” has battled to keep their youths from getting addicted to video games.
However, there is still an ongoing controversy on whether playing video games can lead to an addiction. Video game addiction is yet to be seen in a page of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5, considered the reference manual for mental health practitioners. It appears that some experts have hesitations about notching this one up as another disorder.
Those on the other side of this debate however say that just because it is not yet recognized as an addiction, doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future, just as some of what we now acknowledge as disorders weren’t, for some time in the past.
Dr. Brent Conrad a clinical psychologist has laid out the arguments from both camps quite succinctly. Here are some of the arguments against classifying excessive video game play as an addiction, a good part of it based on a case study performed by Dr. Richard Wood in 2007:
- It has not been recognized by any authorized bodies as a mental disorder.
- Reports have mostly been qualitative in nature, which means claims are mostly based on anecdotal, rather than scientific evidence.
- Video game playing is not considered the same as gambling addiction. Dr. Wood argues that the motivations behind addictive gambling are distinct from those that drive video gamers. For instance, gamblers "will chase monetary losses, believe that more gambling will solve the problem, and will gamble in order to escape the reality of their increasing debts."1
- Choosing to use video games to relax cannot be considered an addiction. In this case, excessive gaming becomes a form of escape, which makes it a symptom, not the cause of a problem.
- Spending too much time on an activity cannot be considered grounds for classifying a behavior as a disorder. Dr. Wood cites other activities that are socially more acceptable but are also known to be just as time consuming. If indeed we were to use time spent as a criterion, then things like "watching television, reading, playing a musical instrument, or training for a marathon"2 should be considered addictions.
In part two of this article, we will go on to lay out the arguments on the opposite side of this issue, i.e., those who believe there should be a disorder called, video game addiction.