Do you really want your child to suffer from being socially awkward? Then stop them from playing video games and let them mingle with society!
In the 21st century technology is improving more rapidly; this means there are new consoles emerging. It started off with Fairchild channel F in 1976 to mobile friendly game applications. Console addiction is not looked as a concentrated issue in society compared to drug addictions however, console dependence can be detrimental as it harms your social life and health. Console addiction can amount to forgetting to eat or sleep, depression, mood swings, lack of interest in anything but gaming, missing out on everyday activity like going to work/school, relationship problems, difficulty relating to people, learning difficulties, communication problems, anxiety/panic attacks and financial strain.
I visited an adolescent in London earlier on today, Ali Abbas, 19, who is highly hooked to console gaming and it was taking over his life. However he was able to notice how unhealthy it got and decided to change his bad habits this is what he has to say, “My favourite console would be PC and when I play it I feel like I am in my own world and I do not need to worry about being affected by the real world, I immerse myself into the games I play and imagine I am the character that I am playing”.
This quote from Ali is thought provoking, as he does not want to face the real world therefore he envisions himself as the character he is playing which could be risky and could effect his mental health in the long run as he is loosing his own character and could find it difficult to communicate with other people as he spends so long envisioning himself as a cartoon game character. This intrigued me and I wanted to know why and how he got addicted, “I got addicted because of having family problems” He claimed, “I would use gaming as an way to escape to allow me to relax and that I can forget about the issues I was having at home, this then became a more of way for me to calm myself down when I would be stressed or angry a place for me to escape to how a similar to how a person who would smoke or drink alcohol I guess. I believe my console addiction was getting unhealthy only recently. I have now started to become more active, and instead of investing all my energy on pc consoles I started to become more active, and starting investing my energy on gym etc. but before I was really unhealthy and due to me sitting for hours on the computer playing games I would get really ill easily and had to go to the doctors a lot. I still play games on the pc, but now I have prioritise my time and made sure I have done everything before I start playing”.
Ali Abbas turned out to be very lucky as he realised that he had a console addiction and tried to find new activities that interested him however he stated “I spent so long playing pc game consoles, that when I stopped playing so frequently it had already affected me mentally and because of that I have to struggle when it comes to me making friends. I find it hard to talk to people and socialise with other people, majority of the time I am afraid of what people will think about me and as I always kept myself to myself for so long now I find it hard to make friends but I have such good family support they help me through it and now starting university it has given me little more confidence to engage conversation with other people”.
After interviewing Ali Abbas about his addiction and how it affected his relationship with his family, I was able to contact his sister Naznin to get a one on one insight of the reality of living with a game console addict. Naznin expressed the realities of the addiction, “we have tried to help Ali with this by taking him counselling and by giving him a an allocated time of amount to play games as Ali seems to not take interest in family problems when there is a family problem he often goes into his room and play games in order for Ali to get better he needs to be exposed to more of life rather than counselling. I believe he needs to understand what life has to offer and not just be stuck upstairs playing games”. Naznin also gave her opinion to other game addicts, expressing that this addiction separates families.
“I believe as a sister towards for my brother it has a affected him, he has become very unsocial and does not enjoy being around people only in his virtual world, I believe it can effect ones mental health the advice I would give young adults are make their parents or guardian stop them before it gets worse, it will be very difficult to make them snap out of their addiction and will have a negative impact if they react wrong to this, counselling is always good to have as it helps ease the tension”.
According to CBS Console dependence is lethal. In October 17th 2002 Shawn 21 from Wisconsin committed suicide. Shawn shot himself by his computer, his mother found him in his studio flat. On the computer screen was an online computer game. His mother was adamant and believed that her son died because of computer games she said, “that damn game. He shot himself because of the game”. Due to his mother, he was completely addicted. But this story is not rare; researchers say ‘In a sample of German teens, 6.3% of subjects fulfilled the authors’ diagnostic criteria for gaming addiction. These adolescents were mostly male and had low educational backgrounds. They tended to use computer gaming as a method of managing their moods” Klaus et al. (2008). That is more than half of population in Germany.
Gaming can be influential as well. Children who play violent video games consistently tend to be more violent than a child who doesn’t play violent games, this maybe because they’re so use to playing violent game it gets stuck in their subconscious brain and it will influence their behaviour hence the reason violent games are bound to have a age restriction on it.
In Austria, they have also done a study on video games being influential and they have found that violent video games highly impact the player’s mood and behaviour in a negative manner. Washington Navy gunman, Aaron Alexis, also got diagnosed as a mental illness patient as he used to hear noises in his head and played his much-loved shooter games for up to 18 hours a day, as a result of this he went on a rage at a US naval base and slaughtered 12 people before he got shot himself and died. Consequently, this shows he got influenced greatly by these video games, which turned him rational and reckless.
Mental health specialist that works in Sevacare Anthony Omoteyo says “there is a difference between mental health and mental illness everyone, has a mental health like physical health but you need to maintain it and if you don’t then you unfortunately can get a mental illness like physical illness those two things are tied in together nevertheless anything that you do excessively leads to mental health issues whether it is cleaning constantly or playing game consoles as you are investing so much energy in something that is irrelevant as you are trying to avoid the real problem therefore people need to look after their mental health the same as they are looking after their physical health”.
In London when a new console or game is in store there is a big parade. In 2013 when Grand Theft Auto 5 was released the enthusiastic supporters were queuing up from midnight just for that one game. There were several articles about the eager fans breaking the retail records this shows that gaming is extremely popular although, there could be a fine line between being a fan and being obsessed with games.
After this tragic revelation of game addiction, it was a necessity that the suppliers of game consoles game would come out and talk about the game addiction, nevertheless having made numerous phone calls to the head office of game and public relation of game they refused to answer any questions. This shows that this topic is not taken seriously and could sufficiently affect their sales of games and game console due to public awareness of the relationship between Game and game addiction.