Anyone who has experienced it knows all too well – video game addiction is real. (CRC Health Group)Although gaming addiction is not yet officially recognized as a diagnosable disorder by the American Medical Association, there is increasing evidence that people of all ages, especially teens and pre-teens, are facing very real, sometimes severe consequences associated with compulsive use of video and computer games.
Video games are becoming increasingly complex, detailed, and compelling to a growing international audience of players. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges. It’s not surprising that some teens would rather play the latest video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television.
Studies estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of gamers exhibit signs that meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for addiction. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviors, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.
So post-doctorate fellow Dr. Ruth van Holst and her colleagues put adolescent male, self-reported problematic videogamers through a test, to determine if videogame addicts would react to neuropsychological tests in the same way as other addicts. The researchers learned that problematic videogamers aren’t like other addicts in two distinct ways:
  1. They’re quicker than other addicts. 2) They’re more prone to errors.
Frequent gamers had shorter reaction time but they tend to make more mistakes.
STRESS caused by academic and family pressure could be linked to the worrying number of young Singaporeans hooked on video games, researchers said yesterday. They are carrying out further studies to find out why nearly 9 per cent of youngsters are addicted to computer gaming, and how to help them. National University of Singapore (NUS) Assistant Professor Choo Hyekyung said school and family-related stress is one factor likely to feature prominently. She declined to give further details.

Of the 8.7 per cent of students deemed pathological – having problems controlling their gaming – 54 per cent said stress was one reason they play games. Addicts spend about 37.5 hours a week gaming – double the 18.8 hours spent by ordinary youngsters. The study of 3,000 students aged nine to 14 was published in the Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, and was carried out by researchers from NUS, the National Institute of Education (NIE), Iowa State University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The same institutions are conducting the follow-up studies.
Also 7 per cent of all students polled had shoplifted games or stolen money to pay for them. And 24 per cent of those deemed addicts cut classes to play, while more than half quarreled with their parents over their habit. The problem has prompted the Government to take action. In August, it announced it had set aside $10 million to fund cyber-wellness projects over the next five years. release on Tuesday of Singapore’s first comprehensive study of video game addiction. 
Mr Daniel Koh of counselling practice Insights Mind Centre has this advice for parents: They must not “just cut off gaming”. They also need to help their children take up another “good and fun” activity like sports to replace the habit, he said. “Many parents simply tell their children to stop playing, but to the child, the word ‘stop’ may mean they have to do something boring like homework..."
As with other addictive behaviors, there are a range of different responses to the activity. While some gamers feel unable to reduce the time they spend playing, others do not experience cravings if they are unable to play.While computer gaming research is showing some disturbing effects, particularly in younger players, there is a lack of long-term research and insufficient evidence to definitively conclude that computer game overuse is indeed an addiction.

The most recent concerns about video game “addiction” have been based less on scientific facts and more upon media hysteria. By examining the literature, it will be demonstrated that the current criteria used for identifying this concept are both inappropriate and misleading. It is concluded that the most likely reasons that people play video games excessively are due to either ineffective time management skills, or as a symptomatic response to other underlying problems that they are escaping from, rather than any inherent addictive properties of the actual games.

The primary consequence is time loss, and spending too much time on one activity can create its own problems. In a recent study of 280 video game players (Wood et al. 2007) it was found that 82% experienced time loss frequently or all the time. However, just over half of the players thought this had some positive features. Those who liked losing track of time reported that they found it a relaxing experience and a sign that the game was engaging and value for money, it provided temporary relief from the stress of everyday life. It showed that they were enjoying themselves so much that time passed quickly. Those who disliked time loss suggested that this was because it meant they missed appointments, it caused conflict with others, or they felt guilty that they could have been doing ‘better things.’ However, time loss was something that could be controlled and half of the players used strategies to limit how much time they spent playing, such as setting alarms, or getting someone to interrupt them after a set period of time.

1. CRC Health Group (2012) "Video Game Addiction
 When video games become more than just games..." Retrieved from http://www.video-game-addiction.org/

2. So post-doctorate fellow Dr. Ruth van Holst and her colleagues (2012) "2 Surprising Findings About Videogame 'Addiction'" Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/07/10/2-suprising-findings-about-videogame-addiction/

3. Chua Hian Hou and Poon Chian Hui (2010) "Stress may turn youngsters into video game addicts" Retrieved from http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/News/Pages/Stress-may-turn-youngsters-into-video-game-addicts.aspx

4. Mez Breeze (2013) "A quiet killer: Why video games are so addictive" Retrieved from http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/01/12/what-makes-games-so-addictive/

5. Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery (2012)"What is video- game addiction" Retrieved from http://www.addictionrecov.org/addictions/?AID=45

6. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2012)"Problems with the Concept of Video Game “Addiction”: Some Case Study Examples" Retrieved from http://laurier.communicationstudies.ca/files/wood_problems_game_addiction.pdf 

7. techaddiction (2012)"Why are Video Games Addictive?" Retrieved from http://www.techaddiction.ca/why_are_video_games_addictive.html

8. Elizabeth Hartney (2012)"What Is Video Game Addiction?" Retrieved from http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/videogameadd.htm

9. WebMD (2012) " Video Game Addiction No Fun" Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/video-game-addiction-no-fun

10. Helen Lewis (2013) "Think your kids spend too long playing video games? Don't hire an assassin" Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/08/video-games-assassin-addiction

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