While video game use is problematic for some teens, researchers say addiction is rare. Video…
Addicted or Not Addicted: Video Gaming Can Become Problematic
For those of us who lived through the 1970s we can still remember when video games first made their appearance on the scene. Games like Pac-Man were table-sized consoles that required pockets loaded with coins if you intended to play more than one or two friendly games. For most of us an occasional game was plenty – but even back then there were some who spent hours seated at the consoles or in the video arcade.
Since then, video gaming has grown into a powerful multi-million dollar home system industry and the problem of excessive game playing has grown with the industry. But can excessive video gaming be properly termed an addiction? That is a question still being considered by those who make such determinations.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) video gaming is not a recognized addiction. The DSM-IV is the guide regularly consulted by mental health professionals to determine appropriate diagnoses. A new edition of the DSM is due to be released later in 2012 and that edition may include video gaming under diagnosable addictions – no one is sure quite yet. While the American Psychiatric Association discusses whether or not to make it official, many professionals and lay people argue that plenty of our young people fall under a working definition for addiction which is basically any compulsive behavior which interferes with normal functioning.
By this definition, as many as nine percent of teens could be labeled addicted. Certainly a significant number of youth spend excessive time (up to 24 hours per week) lost in an alternate fantasy reality created by video games. Signs that kids are spending too much time gaming include: trouble focusing at school, a drop in academic performance and more than usual health problems.