Video Game Addiction | Teen Ink

Video Game Addiction

January 29, 2009
By AlanW SILVER, Ridgefield, Connecticut
AlanW SILVER, Ridgefield, Connecticut
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In the 19th century, if you asked a thirteen year-old boy what they did in their spare time, they'd probably talk about helping their parents on the farm. You ask the same question to a teen in the 20th century, and you'll get an earful about baseball, double-dutch, and pick-up sticks.

But now we are living in a new millennium, a millennium where 97% of children ages 12-17 would reply 'videogames' to that question. To me, this massive percentage is horrifying (99% of boys and 94% of girls), yet some will sense nothing wrong with it. These people frequently argue, 'But videogames aren't that bad,' 'they're not actually harmful to the body,' or 'some games improve hand-eye coordination and analytical thinking skills.' Granted, video games often appear harmless, but they can be very damaging to children and teens who are lacking in self-control.

The dangers of video gaming can be summarized into one word: addiction. Guilty pleasures like video games, television, and candy are tolerable when done in moderation. The problem with video gaming is that unless controlled or limited by a third party, it's both chemically and mentally addictive. Studies have scientifically shown that excitement from playing video games causes the human brain to release an addictive chemical. Psychologically, video game addiction is explained through what is called 'the God effect.' This simply means that players receive the ability to control and manipulate everything in the game, something very attractive for teens without substantial influence in the real world.

Unlike other addictions such as tobacco, marijuana, or alcohol, video game addiction has yet to attain major publicity. The reason is probably due to the how smoking and drinking accumulates direct physical injury, while video games conjure minimal damage to physical health. However, I believe video game addiction endangers victims equally as much as substance addiction.

Compared to tobacco and heroin, video games require much more time to actually perform the addictive act. Smokers often engage in other activities with a cigarette between their lips, but video gamers do not have the same privilege when gaming. Studies show that the average male gamer plays for around six to eleven hours a day on weekends and about an hour on weekdays. This excessive time consumed on video games is time that could have been spent doing homework, playing sports, or even being with friends.

Furthermore, wasting hours a week playing video games endangers an individual's chances of achieving their full potential. A teen who possesses the intelligence and talent to become a future Nobel Prize recipient may have to settle as an ordinary science teacher because he wasted too much time gaming as a youth. This waste of talent hurts not only the individual, but also society as a whole.

Video game addiction, similar to substance addiction, contains enough hazards to critically corrupt one's life. An example is found in Elyria, Ohio, where a seventeen year-old boy named Daniel Petric shot his parents in the head after they confiscated his copy of 'Halo 3.' His mother was killed and his father wounded due to the gunshots, and the troubled teen fled the murder scene with solely one item in his possession: the 'Halo 3' game. Petric may exemplify one extremely severe and uncommon case, but there are countless adolescents in our nation suffering from video game addiction. These kids often find themselves without friends or interest in any other hobby, and their lives without meaning other than gaming.

Besides its pervasiveness, I believe the most dangerous aspect of video game addiction is the lack of awareness. Currently, many parents in the United States see nothing wrong with video games; some may even believe that gaming benefits their children. Little do they realize that major game manufacturers hire expert psychologists to study their games and ensure that each game contains addictive components (similar to what tobacco companies did with their cigarettes).

Video game addiction is a relatively new discovery, and the amount of publicity focusing on it will gradually increase. But as consumers, we should not wait until video games are publicly acknowledged as harmful and addictive. Parents need to start limiting their children's time spent on gaming. Wellness classes in schools should include a section about non-substance addiction (like video games) in their curriculums. We must raise awareness about the harmful effects of prolonged gaming before it becomes game over for our youths.

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This article has 24 comments.

on May. 29 2010 at 12:26 am
nicolette_rae BRONZE, Long Beach, California
3 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. -Oscar Wilde

i agree completly. even my history teacher's addicted. he brags on how he sleeps at 2 in the morning playing video games, and wakes up at 5 correcting papers. this is an epidemic that needs to be stopped.

Mike(cheetos said...
on Apr. 15 2010 at 7:32 am
I think this article makes alot of sense and more people should listen to it. Video games are all fun and good but under moderation.

on Apr. 10 2010 at 10:14 pm
emo_nerd951 BRONZE, Clover, South Carolina
3 articles 5 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." -unknown

I read this because I wanted to know your thoughts on videogames sense I play Halo 3 and stuff like that (being a girl makes it different for me). You make a very good point. I don't play much anymore because it use to take up so much of my time. It caused me to be in my room playing my 360 all the time. Bad thing is it took a while before I could stop playing for long periods of time so it is a problem that isn't looked at very much and should be looked at more.

on Jan. 6 2010 at 4:48 pm
WriterFanatic PLATINUM, DesMoines, Iowa
24 articles 0 photos 184 comments

Favorite Quote:
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
By Gandhi.

Ineresting, very interesting. What you're saying is correct. Unfortunatly, its not easy to stop playing video games. Why? Because everyone else is doing it.