Gaming has grown into one of the largest industries in the world and has been like that for at least the last decade. No matter which medium games are played on whether that be a console or a personal computer, one out of every three people game today. Consoles like the Playstation, now in its fifth generation, have become powerful beasts that can render beautiful graphics. capable of fantastic multiplayer experiences. Personal computers are now customizable to the point of artwork and are even more powerful than their console brothers.
As far as the gaming industry goes, it has surpassed the 200$ billion mark in terms of market value at the moment. In 2016, which seems like an eon ago, 2.5 billion were gaming. Today, that number is much, much bigger. No other industry has grown as quickly and developed so many new branches. To think that billions of people of all ages are gaming across multiple platforms today, either offline or online is mind-boggling. Unfortunately, there is also a dark side that comes with something that stimulates our sensations and perceptions.
The issue is that gaming addiction is very real these days, where most often younger generations will spend inordinate amounts of time gaming. We’re talking about over five hours a day, every day, on average for some countries where gaming is available and widespread. Gaming is one of the best ways to immerse oneself in alternate worlds, have fun and let off steam. Time can pass very quickly while gaming and having fun. What is more, hundreds of millions of kids and teens are gaming together with others online on huge online platforms where they can also communicate and share data with others while gaming. This presents several challenges ranging from security to mental health, the latter of which we will delve into in this article.
Why is Gaming Addiction a Huge Problem These Days?
Gaming addiction is a serious and widespread problem these days. Digital gaming has been around since the 1950s when simple games used to be played at home where kids were glued to television sets. We have come from basic games to the gaming console boom of the 1990s with the Sega Dreamcast, Playstation, and more. Gaming today is an entirely different beast, unrecognizable from its ancestors.
PC gaming did not overtake consoles until the late 90s and 2000, although both are extremely popular mediums today. There is hardly a person out there that has not heard of the Sony Playstation, the Nintendo Wii, and others. That is just how popular the concept is!
Back to today, 2022, where we also have another category of gaming and that is mobile device gaming such as on smartphones from Android and Apple with powerful processors and graphics cards that allow for immersive gameplay.
Among younger kids, games like The Sims, Minecraft and Roblox are extremely popular. While, among older generations like teenagers games like shooters, action-adventure, simulations, racing, and e-sports are the first choice. Parents may think gaming is harmless, however when they realize The World Health Organization (WHO) added video game addiction to their list of recognized mental health conditions 3 years ago, a lot of people woke up. Today, psychologists, psychiatrists, academicians, and scientists alike know that gaming triggers the release of happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, particularly in young generations. In fact, the effect is much like drugs, alcohol, and gambling!
Over 80% of American teenagers have some sort of video game medium at home, while 97% of boys admit they play games (83% for girls). What is more, internet usage and gaming spiked post-COVID between 2020 and now when people are more isolated and likely to stay home.
Gaming addiction can cause the following problems;
- Disorders such as ADD/ADHD
- Mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and hostility
- Withdrawal symptoms when not allowed to game
- Overlooked priorities, excessive procrastination
- Loss of interest in real-world activities and tasks
- Lack of social interaction with the real world
- Exposure to cyberbullies and online predators
- Exposure to cybercriminals and online scams
How to Remediate Gaming Addiction
As you can see, gaming addiction can be treated just like alcohol, drug, or gambling addiction and the science and statistics are there to prove it. So, what can you do as a parent or guardian if someone close to you or in your family has a gaming addiction? Here are some pointers;
- First of all, creating an action plan as a family or unit to strike a balance between health and gaming
- Addressing any underlying issues that may be causing young people to
- Limiting the time kids and teens are gaming. Staying positive and building positive coping mechanisms for withdrawal
- Using parental controls and surveillance mechanisms such as Qustodio or Bark which can block certain applications that young children access
- Monitoring the content that your kids or teens are consuming
Here are more best practices when it comes to kids and gaming;
- Taking regular breaks
- Encouraging kids not to play negative games and to find healthy friends online
- Keeping distance from the screen as it can damage eyesight
- Making sure kids sit upright and have good posture
- Gaming before bedtime will disrupt sleep, so minimizing that is a good idea
- Making chores and homework a priority before games
You can also find several resources such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the Family Gaming Guide, and The American Addiction Centers.
At the end of the day, gaming is normal and billions of young people and adults both take part in it. Gaming is not just for kids, you must understand that it has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that also pays for those that work in the industry. Gaming is no longer a ping-pong game or Tetris. It is no longer passive. Gaming has turned into a giant industry that drives innovation, progress, and technology. Most important of all, enjoy your gaming in a healthy way!