About a decade ago the American Medical Association (AMA) voted on whether video game addiction was enough of a mental disorder to warrant its entry into the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV). The DSM IV is the medical handbook mental health professionals turn to for categorical and diagnostic information for all accepted mental disorders. Were the AMA’s decision making body to endorse its inclusion, it would then be passed up to the American Psychiatric Association for the final consideration.
The decision to vote on the issue was raised by the Chairman on Science Public Health, Mohamed K. Khan, in a paper titled, “Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games.” Kahn believes that any video game has the potential to cause addictive behavior, but by far those who exhibited the most addictive signs were those who played the Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games, such as the enormously popular World of Warcraft. Kahn also states that, “Current data suggest these individuals are somewhat marginalized socially, perhaps experiencing high levels of emotional loneliness and/or difficulty with real-life social interactions. Current theory is that these individuals achieve more control of their social relationships and more success in social relationships in the virtual reality realm than in real relationships.”
The paper makes numerous comparisons between the addictive behavior of gamblers and the addictive behaviors shown by video game “addicts”. People of any age group are susceptible to video game addiction. Other behaviors often associated with addiction, such as withdraw symptoms and the inability to stop using/playing games, the report was very vague about, but Kahn does say that some people can quit whenever they want while others cannot keep themselves from playing.
The decision on accepting the proposal took place over the course of the weekend of June 23rd. After much deliberation, the AMA rejected the proposal saying that video game addiction is not similar enough to alcoholism or compulsive gambling to warrant its inclusion.
How Video Games Affect Children
In today’s world technology is gaining prominence everywhere, including in children’s lives. Instead of playing with real friends in playgrounds and parks, children are sitting in their rooms and playing video games. Video consoles like Xbox, Wii, Playstation are their best friends. Are video games good or evil?
- Do Video Games Have Positive Contributions on a Child’s Development or Do They Affect Kids Badly?
- When a child spends up to ten hours a day or more playing video games, major social and/or school work disruptions will result.
Don’t Let Your Child to be a Video Game Addict
Symptoms of video game addiction seen in children include the following:
- Most non-school hours are spent on playing computer or video games.
- Lack of interest in school.
- Not keeping up with assignments, getting lower grades.
- Lying about video game use.
- Choosing to play video games, rather than seeing friends.
- Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports).
Another big problem with video games is that there is a reset button. The kids who play video games are used to the idea that they can push the reset button when they fail and then start from the beginning. However, real life doesn’t work that way. There are no reset buttons to start afresh something if it goes wrong. This will in turn cause frustration in kids when faced with real-life issues.
Video Games Have Good Points Too
Video games are not all evil, however. They have many good points. Their major contributions to children are:
- Video games can improve hand-eye coordination, children who play video games are more used to multi-tasking.
- It may be a solution for obesity in children. For instance, the Wii Fit encourages kids to start exercising. This is a good thing these days with childhood obesity on the rise.
However, what are children missing by not getting out and playing outside or taking part in actual sports? Are they missing out on quality social interactions with their peers?
Banning video games is not a good solution. For the child’s best interest, limiting playing time and monitoring game selection according to age and game content may be the best solution. With the evolution of video games and the Internet, many children have more interest in playing indoors than outdoors. Parents should encourage their kids to play outside as fresh air and physical activity are good for kids. Playing hide and seek, football and all kinds of games are both fun and educational.
Also, children who are encouraged to play outdoors with their peers in the backyard and gardens are more likely to develop critical thinking, problem-solving and imagination. These skills can only be learned through free and spontaneous play. Sometimes, while playing in the real world, children fall and trip. That’s fine as getting hurt is a part of playing and may also help children learn to accept mistakes, failures or weaknesses.
If parents understand what is good, what is harmful for their children and know how to balance video game playing and outdoor activities, both parents and children will be able to get a lot more out of the video games.