Video gaming becomes very popular through the development of computers. The faster the computers become, the better the games. Now, video gaming is not only popular on computers but also on smartphones. And, it’s addictive, especially to young people.
Today, smartphone addiction is a common problem. It used to be social media causing the addiction. However, video gaming is also contributing significantly to the addiction process.
Recently, the World Health Organization classifies video gaming addiction as a unique mental problem.
Why WHO Classifies Video Gaming as Mental Illness?
There are estimated 2.6 billion video gamers globally. However, only 3% have gaming disorders. Although the number percentage appears very small, considering the actual number of people with gaming disorders is a huge number.
For instance, 3% of 2.6 billion gamers is approximately 78 million video gaming addicts. Moreover, if this trend continues to rise, it is a bad news. However, some experts caution that this new classification may lead to possible misdiagnosis of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says uncontrollable behavior over video gaming is a disorder. These are the gamers who do not know any more about their limits as to when to stop gaming to more important chores.
Moreover, people who are spending most of their time gaming and forgetting to meet social obligations. What’s even more shocking, many video game addicts trade their nightly sleep over playing video games.
This can lead to sleep deprivation and eventually anxiety, stress and loads of other unhealthy consequences. Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, spokeswoman for behavioral addictions at Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists welcomes the WHO’s classification.
We come across parents who are distraught, not only because they’re seeing their child drop out of school, but because they’re seeing an entire family structure fall apart.
Moreover, researcher Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been doing a research on video gaming disorder for 30 years says the new classification is helpful. She adds that WHO’s new classification of video game addiction as mental disorder could help strengthen treatment strategies.
How Do Video Games Affect The Brain?
Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive researcher has been exploring how fast-paced video games affect the human brain1.
Here’s another explanation on how video games affect the brain.
Is It Possible To Overcome Video Game Addiction?
Cam Adair, founder of GameQuitters.com explains how to escape from gaming addiction. In his TED Talks, he mentions that parents have a significant role over control over children’s use of gadgets.
Taking The Positive Impact of Video Games
While the WHO classifies video gaming as an addiction or mental illness, some people find it beneficial. One example is this granny gamer, Shirley Curry. She is known in the online gaming universe as the Gaming Grandma.
There are mix emotions about video gaming. Sure, it’s addictive and you’ll be hooked on it if you are not careful and vigilant. While for most people video gaming is a curse while for a few it is helpful, it boils down to self-control.
Knowing your limits and being able to stop playing video games to do more important chores is discipline. For kids, on the other hand, parents should have full control over the use of gadgets and put limits on the number of hours for playing video games.
Kids are not aware of the dangers of video game addiction. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the parents to serve as models and guide their children in this matter.
Kids do not need much entertainment such as excessive watching of television and long hours of playing video games. Instead, they need interaction and parents should do their part to guide their children in limiting and avoiding excessive hours playing video games.
Moreover, spending long hours in front of screens is bad for children. It also promotes a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to various metabolic disorders in the long run.
So, parents, instead of letting to spend their free time playing video games, encourage them to do physical activities. As parents, set yourself as an example. Spend time with your children. Sure, it is OK to allow them playing video games, but always set limitations.
How Long Is Safe For Children To Play Video Games?
A study2 by Oxford University says children should play an hour or less per day.
With this limit, researchers say it is more social and satisfying for kids than not playing at all.
Results suggests there are potential benefits for children who engage in low levels of daily gameplay and downsides for those who play excessively.
In another study3, Spanish researchers say that children who limit gaming to an hour or less per week may gain cognitive benefits like faster responses to visual cues.
Playing video games for 1 hour per week was associated with faster and more consistent psychomotor responses to visual stimulation. Remarkably, no further change in motor speed was identified in children playing over 2 hours per week.