Video games are, by definition, electronic games played on a video screen (normally a television, a built-in screen when played on a handheld machine, or a computer).They usually amount to solving a quest, conquering the world, being the last man standing or something similar. They have become something that is being incorporated into daily life. It is now, apparently, considered totally normal for children to spend hours upon hours with their eyes glued to a screen. This was, of course, not a problem in earlier generations. So why is it now?
Well, of course, there is the fact that the Internet is now easily accessible and, through it, countless games, pictures, websites, etc. The temptation seems to be too great for a modern-day child to resist. Then, there is the fact that some parents are allowing their children almost unlimited access to a computer. Surely these are contributing factors to the widespread use of video games nowadays?
What is addiction?
One would reason that one’s child is addicted to video games if they are spending an inordinate amount of time playing them. However, Professor Murat Yucel, a clinical neuropsychologist, who specialises in addiction, disagrees. He claims that ‘It’s not just a matter of time spent on a game, there are psychological aspects where someone is dependent on it, they´re not enjoying it anymore, they´re just doing it for the sake of doing it.’
A parent who was interviewed claims her child, Riley (11), is ‘definitely addicted’. She says that she has observed a definite change in his behaviour. He has, apparently, become aggressive and ‘can’t live’ without Fortnite (a video game that is very popular at present). He no longer spends more time than necessary outside, preferring to spend it inside. She therefore reasons he is addicted. So, despite the fact Fortnite is 12+, an eleven-year-old is depending on it to enjoy himself.
As we heard in the session with a psychologist before the autumn break, the video game’s high intensity and the small victories experienced during the game result in dopamine being released. This chemical, dopamine, creates the feeling of pleasure. However, after becoming accustomed to a certain level of dopamine, the brain demands more. Then, the cycle becomes more and more demanding and, after a while, one abandons all other pursuits, with the aim of focusing on this game. If, according to the psychologist, this is the case, you are addicted.
To go back to the case of the eleven-year-old boy, Riley, we see that these ‘symptoms’ are, in fact, present. His mother says, ‘since Fortnite’s been around, there’s been no skateboarding, no scooter, he just loves to be in that room all hours’. So, there you have it. Fortnite is the cause of this anti-social behaviour. If we were to believe the psychologist’s take on events, we would classify this behaviour as addiction and we could, therefore, say that Fortnite is addictive.
The next question, though, is: is this an isolated case? If it were, perhaps we could dismiss this proof. However, a psychologist interviewed rules that option out. This psychologist, Brad Marshall, runs an Internet Addiction Clinic for children in Sydney, Australia, and he says, ‘We’re seeing about 60-70 % of the kids coming through the door reporting that Fortnite is their primary game of use’.
If an internet addiction clinic helping children deal with their addiction to Fortnite is reporting this, can there really be much room for doubt?
How can one treat/prevent addiction to video games?
First of all, there are many different methods that can be used in terms of preventing addiction to video games, from placing reasonable time limits around Internet/ video game usage to banning video game use altogether. The method used depends on each individual parent.
To treat addiction to video games, there are, again, many methods. A drastic action could be to send one’s addicted child to a psychologist. One could also use it as a bargaining chip, as in the child must complete chores/homework before being allowed to play video games. For this method to work, however, one should ensure that the child does not do the work or the chore hastily but takes time with it and does it carefully.
One could also take away, say, ten minutes from the total time the child is allowed to play a video game every time the child misbehaves or becomes aggressive. I would personally remove the video game entirely, as then addiction can’t increase in intensity and, over time, the addiction should stop, in a way.
The government could also do something, such as shutting down the platforms on which video games are played for the main part of each day, meaning that video game players could only play for two to three hours each day.
To conclude, children all around the world are becoming addicted to video games such as Fortnite, and, according to statistics, quite a significant number of them. This is ruining children’s lives (and, perhaps, some adults’). Whether they are addicted to Fortnite or any other video game, they are still addicted to video games, meaning we answer the question at the centre of this essay – are video games addictive?
The answer? A resounding YES!!!
Caoimhe Hayes, S2en