submitted by Dr. Maria DiDonato, D.Ed. Psychologist, Achievement & Wellness Center, www.achievewell.net
Video games are nearly 40 years old. Their popularity with children and youth is unquestionable. Most games are appropriate for young players and can provide practice in problem solving and logic.
Since its inception, video game use has two problems. One is the questionable effects of violent video games and the other is the effects of overuse or video game “addiction.”
The information on the effects of violent video games is established. These include an increase in physiological arousal that can include aggressive thought, emotions and actions, and a decrease in positive pro-social actions.
More recently, video game addiction has surfaced as a concern. This pertains to non-violent games as well.
These addictions can affect children as well as adults. The effect of video game addiction can have negative social, economic and emotional consequences on all age groups. There is a difference between someone choosing to play a video game and feeling compelled to play, which interferes with mental growth and social development.
Using games as a substitute or escape from the “adventure” of real life robs a person of the necessary learning from life. Computer game addiction should be treated seriously by the parents and adult individuals so affected. Early intervention in limiting game playing is crucial, for obvious reasons and because some long-term effects of game addiction can be disastrous.
Parents need to limit their child’s video game time, which includes access during the night, establishing and prioritizing desirable activities before video game time is allowed, setting and enforcing clear consequences for not observing limits.
Help groups are available online for parents and children seeking help.
The “Parent Further” tab on the search-institute.org provides information such as symptoms, addiction survey, assessment and recommendations to begin interventions.
Online Gamers Anonymous (olganon.org) helps in the recovery of individuals who have become addicted to gaming.