I firmly believe that addiction to video games can damage personal and public life. However, every road goes both ways, forward and even backward. It altogether depends on the person to decide the path to choose. The same logic applies here too. There is always harm, when there is too much of a thing; extremity called addiction arises from what starts as an innocent, harmless habit. There are arguments also on the supporting side with regards to playing of video games claiming numerous benefits. However, most of the people believe that the negatives outweigh the benefits gained by playing video games.
The biggest allegation with regards to harmful effects of playing video games is with respect to adult material and violence which they contain. The resultant impact on children who are immature and unknown to sexual education and violence prove to be tragic at times. Based on a study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001, p.1679--1686), kids who play violent video games tend to show aggressive behaviors, thoughts and feelings. While there is a debate as to which genres of video games are harmful, numerous studies have resulted into shocking outcomes. A recent study by Dr. V. Matthews revealed that, “computer games impact human brain”. Time.com quotes him as clarifying that “After playing violent video games there is an increase in aggressive behavior what we are saying is the physiological explanation of what can be seen by the behavioral studies. Changes in brain function can be seen which are likely to be related to that behavior”.
Online games reward players including children for being brutal and cruel with virtual enemies. Violent and abusive acts are done repeatedly and mercilessly. The gamer relishes violence and witnesses the same by various acts of killing, fighting and shooting. This participation, rigorous repetition and resulting reward or declaration as a winner has an everlasting adverse effect on their learning and growth. Many researches reveal that a sadistic video games may relate to aggressive conduct (Anderson & Dill, 2000, p.722; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004, pp. 5-22). Still, the evidence not being consistent enough, left as unproved, challenged time in and time out rendered the issue far from being settled.
However, countering this, experts like Henry Jenkins of Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with research that there is a decreased rate of juvenile crime which has a nexus with the popularity of games such as doom, death race and grand theft auto (Gamingict.blogspot.in,2013). Further, he reveals that teenage players are able to detach from the emotional effects of the game when it is over. There are cases of teenagers who commit violent crimes who also were playing video games such as those in the famous Newport and columbine cases. There could be a possibility that there already are some violent people, and it is just a coincidence that many of them also enjoy playing fierce video game acts. This weak argument is not sufficient enough to neglect the social costs which the human civilization pays in terms of social isolation and loneliness which creeps in the attitude and conduct of the regular players.
Academic achievements are deemed to be negatively correlated to a total time spent for playing games online. Many studies have been done, and one of them shows that the performance in school is poorer of those students who spend more time playing video games (Anderson & Dill, 2000, p.722; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004, pp. 5-22). Argosy University's Minnesota School on Professional Psychology carried out research and found that regular gamer’s score lower compared to others, argue with teachers a lot and quarrel a lot with their friends (Hauge, M. R. and Gentile, D. A., 2003). Many researches on the same lines show that game players unconsciously and inevitably earn a habit to regularly avoid their homework for the sake of playing games. Similarly, many confessed that their gaming habits dragged their grades down to the rock bottom. Online gamers eventually become deficient in emotional intelligence, and some of those who are already struggling with relationships may find gaming as a last resort to fill their emotional void. Interactions within video games involve relationships with strangers of the virtual world far away from humans or relatives which are very important in one’s life.
Video games have bad effects on children’s health, including depression, isolation, obesity and muscular and skeletal disorders besides inducing them to behave badly with those advising to shun playing video games. Gamers pick up bad language, argumentative behavior and invite problems like depression and isolation besides other online dangers. The supporting sections of people claim that when children play video games, it develops their brain dramatically. In many video games, the skills required to win involve creativity, strategic and analytical thinking. These skills are not developed in them by academics or studies. However, the above benefits are refuted by a paper published by stating that games can hurt and help children's attention issues — improving the ability to concentrate in short bursts but damaging long-term concentration (Gentile, D. A., Swing, E. L., Lim, C. G. and Khoo, A. 2012, p.62)
Long term game addiction can have lasting negative effects on mental health too. Addicted gamers eventually suffer from depression because the virtual world and real world don't match. They can often have suicidal thoughts created by consistent conflicts between the real world and the virtual world. Gamers tend not to reach out for help because of isolation from friends and family, which is again the outcome of the same addiction. They cannot digest the fact that they have fallen prey into the hands of games like slaves. Many game addicts have reported relationship failures and divorce due to their bad habit of game addiction. Some have become so addicted that they lost their jobs, ruined their personal properties, investments and ultimately their primary needs like electricity, water, municipal taxes and other service connections have been cut off due to non-payment of dues.
Video games have done far more damage than just change the way we entertain ourselves. They have changed the way of human interaction, the warmth of human touch, time we spend with our loved ones, and the time we invest in every walk of life to progress and succeed. Psychiatrists these days face cases like “video games ruined my marriage and my daughter hasn’t come out of her room since days”. One of the latest researches published links playing of video games with poorer relationships with one’s kith and kin (Ferguson, C. J. and Olson, C. K., 2014, pp. 127—136). The relationships of youth with their parents and peers are dangerously declining with increasing addiction to games and resultant reduced communication.
The gravity of the problem can be evaluated from the fact that attraction of playing video games force young adults to avoid social gatherings or become an excuse for avoiding a larger problem faced in married and family life. Gradually the problem turns into a vicious, unending circle without any solution left over. Besides allied vices like drinking and drugs also enter into the play once this addiction of video games become all the more powerful to defy the conscience of the addict.
The interpersonal problems which are already haunting the human civilization with the advent of technology and social networking sites have become grave with the addiction of playing video games. A recent study accounted for the time spent by game players for playing video games and asked them a list of questions related to the quality of relationships they had in life qualities. "One of the major clusters was quality of relations and that were found to be reasonably linked with video games," reports revealed. "The remarkable finding was that anything found related to video game usage was in red”. Those individuals who attempt to establish meaningful relationships online gradually become unable to express themselves in real life situations. The gender imbalance amongst gamers also poses a threat whether chasing a new high score beats spending quality time with spouse and children.
Role-playing games like World of warcraft allow players to become hunky, sword-yielding warriors online - which helps explain why dedicated gamers can spend hours together in front of their computer screens. But a new study shows that player’s loyalty to virtual reality has real-world consequences like negatively affecting marital satisfaction.
The spouse of a gamer undergoes tremendous emotional burdens, especially if they are leading a family with children. It becomes simply intolerable to deal with the game addict, along with the taking care of all the responsibilities of the children singlehandedly without the support of a spouse. The normal parent has to balance with all the obligations of social life and responsibilities towards children while trying to help solving the problem of the spouse's addiction. During this period of turmoil, the normal partner suffers a lot in terms of mental and physical problems, who could land up feeling responsible in some or the other way for the spouse’s problem of addiction. As a result of the denial towards family and social responsibilities, which is the hallmark of the gaming addiction, the addict gets more and more towards the addiction and their lives become centered on the addiction. When this occurs, it limits the ability of the addict to be emotionally available for children or other loved ones in life, and thus they too become casualties of the disease. The gamer reaches a point where they are not certain how or why things have changed, but it does, and the love and caring of the family are lost.
Half of all multiplayer game players confess that they are addicted. 1 out of 5 gamers admits that they live most of the time in their virtual world. It is not an easy task for someone unknown to the gaming world to understand how someone becomes addicted. Addicted gamers do not perceive reality as normal human beings do. Gradually, everything in the real world begins to appear fake, and the gaming world becomes a real world for them. Addicted gamers lose from many things to everything in their life and have to start their lives like a diseased requiring treatment. They have to begin from the very start, the basics and work back into life starting afresh. For some with support of family and near ones’ help get back to normal, while others need a lot more help and medical special treatment.
Hence it is better to conclude that gaming habit can eventually convert into addiction that can prove dangerous to both family and personal life.
Anderson, C. A. and Dill, K. E. 2000.Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life.Journal of personality and social psychology, 78 (4), p. 772.
Bushman, B. J. and Anderson, C. A. 2002. Violent video games and hostile expectations: A test of the general aggression model. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 28 (12), pp. 1679--1686.
Ferguson, C. J. and Olson, C. K. 2014. Video Game Violence Use Among “Vulnerable” Populations: The Impact of Violent Games on Delinquency and Bullying Among Children with Clinically Elevated Depression or Attention Deficit Symptoms. Journal of youth and adolescence, 43 (1), pp. 127--136.
Gamingict.blogspot.in. 2013. Gaming! The Technology of the Future!: April 2013. [online] Available at: http://gamingict.blogspot.in/2013_04_01_archive.html [Accessed: 7 Mar 2014].
Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P. J., Linder, J. R. and Walsh, D. A. 2014.The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Adolescence, 27 pp. 5-22.
Gentile, D. A., Swing, E. L., Lim, C. G. and Khoo, A. 2012. Video game playing, attention problems, and impulsiveness: Evidence of bidirectional causality. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 1 (1), p. 62.
Hauge, M. R. and Gentile, D. A. 2003. Video game addiction among adolescents: Associations with academic performance and aggression.