Video Game Addiction: Do we need a Video Gamers Anonymous?
Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Street Fighter are familiar names to nearly all of us. They are all best selling games of major video game consoles. Over 9.8 billion dollars were spent on video games in the United States during 2001 alone, and video game consoles are present in 36 million homes in the United States (1). With the increasing amount of time that people are spending on video games, one is left to wonder if it is possible to become addicted to video games. Do we need a Video Gamers Anonymous?
Addiction has been defined as "A primary, chronic disease, characterized by impaired control over the use of a psychoactive substance and/or behavior.
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In a study by Irwin and Gross, children who played a violent video game displayed a higher level of aggression than children who played a nonviolent game (6). Similarly, in a study by Calvert and Tan, college students who played a violent video game reported more aggressive thoughts after playing the game than college students who played a nonviolent game (6). Although several researchers advocate the position that video games cause violent behavior in children and adults, there are also many researchers who support the opposite belief, which is that video games purge one's desire to act violently and thus reduce the amount of violence in which a person will engage (5). Other detrimental effects of video games include taking time away from a child's studies or homework and decreased social skills (5). Finally, despite possible detrimental effects of excessive video game playing, there are benefits to playing video games in moderation. For instance, video games may improve spatial abilities, the ability to create and apply multiple strategies, and may help develop critical analyzing techniques (7). Due to the nature of video games, psychological, social, and neurological factors have all been associated with excessive video game playing.
The psychological cycle of substance addiction and other maladaptive