Could your child be addicted to video games? What is video game addiction?
At Groundwork Counseling in Maitland Florida (Near Orlando) our video game addiction counselor sees children who have withdrawn from friends and family, and are over indulging in video gaming; some professionals refer to this phenomenon as “video game addiction.” Our therapists and counselors can help families and children overcome the negative effects that the over use of video gamming can cause – withdrawing from family and friends, sports, or other once pleasurable activities. Orlando video game addiction therapy and Groundwork can help children and families stop the destructive behaviors and habits, and help to replace them with positive, healthy, alternative activities.
What Are The Effects of Video Games?
There has been much debate about the effects of video gaming specifically on boys and teens and the effect violent gaming can have on empathy and social development. Some studies argue that video games “increase violence because they teach players how to be violent and reinforce violent tendencies” and that they support “changes in behavior, self-concept, and/or thought processes…increasing arousal and aggressive feelings” in individuals who play games that are violent and realistic for at least “45 minutes” at a time.
In the 2009 Bushman and Anderson study, test subjects were given a violent game to play and then introduced to a planned confrontation to see how they would behave. Results showed that the players were “less likely” to come to the assistance of the individuals involved in the confrontation and revealed that they judged the confrontation as “less serious” than it actually was. They delayed helping longer than subjects who had played a non-violent video game prior to the experience. They were also “less likely” to hear the confrontation taking place than those who played a non-violent game prior to the experience.
In 2001, The American Academy of Pediatrics began issuing official policy statements indicating “violent media (e.g., television, movies, music, and video games) represent a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents.” The organization also found that exposure to violent media, including television and music, may have a negative effect on health such as “increased risk of substance use, sexual activity, obesity, or poor body image.”
Statistics indicate that males are primarily at-risk, may have preexisting personality disorders or traits (e.g., conduct disorder), may have preexisting mental health conditions (e.g., attention deficit disorder), have had difficult or traumatic upbringings, and are insecure (e.g., poor self-esteem). An additional study demonstrated that children with ADD “were at a higher risk of showing addictive behavior to violent video games and that violent video games might be a significant risk variable for aggressive behavior in persons who already have aggressive personality traits” (emphasis mine).
Violent Video Games
Another study that collected data reported directly by the parents of children who play violent video games indicates that individuals who spent large amounts of time playing violent video games could experience “troublesome behavior and poor academic achievement.” The same study also indicated children who played more educational games “had more positive outcomes.” In contrast to the aforementioned statistics, this same study also showed that a player’s social or anti-social behavior can be “reinforced…by either pro-social or violent tactics that were rewarded by advancing in or winning the game.”
I have included these statistics on the amount of time children spend using electronics to show that there is a difference between what some label as appropriate and inappropriate electronic usage. Also that excessive time spent using inappropriate electronics can lead to certain anti-social behaviors – which can include withdrawing from friends, sports, and other pleasurable activities. Emotional effects can include less empathy for the feelings of others, less ability to see meaning or significance in other’s viewpoints, and less compassion for others.
So… What Does It All Mean?
All of these statistics have been included to help you understand how common this issue is, and that children can recover from this negative addictive behavior. Our counselors and therapists suggest that maintaining boundaries, encouraging positive and healthy activities, and setting limits regarding technology and specifically video gamming, your child will have the best chance for lasting personal change. New and healthier behaviors cultivated in therapy can be practiced at home, so that your child can be on their way to leading a more productive, happy, and fulfilling life.
Author: GroundWork Counseling LLC, Maitland Florida 32751
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 Hall, Ryan C. W., M.D., Terri Day, and Richard C. W. Hall M.D. 2011. A plea for caution: Violent video games, the supreme court, and the role of science. Mayo Clinic proceedings 86, (4): 315-21, http://search.proquest.com/docview/858432341?accountid=32521 (accessed August 16, 2012).
 Bushman BJ, Anderson CA. Comfortably numb: desensitizing effects of violent media on helping others. Psychol Sci. 2009;20(2):273-277.
 Hall, Ryan 2011. A plea for caution
 Hastings EC, Karas TL, Winsler A, et al. Young children’s video/computer game use: relations with school performance and behavior. Issues Mem Health Nurs. 2009;30(10):638-649.
 Hall, Ryan 2011. A plea for caution