Are Video Games Harming Your Marriage?
Are Video Games Harming Your Marriage?
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Today, we recognize many forms of addiction. We have help groups for individuals who struggle with alcoholism and drug use. There is counseling for individuals with sexual addictions, and for gambling addictions. We work with people who have shopping addictions, food addictions, and smoking addictions. However, there is one problem that many Americans struggle with that does not receive equal treatment: Video game addiction.
Video game addiction is one of the ten most common addictions in our society. Many of the teenagers and adults in American feel compelled to spend much of their time playing video games; the average video game addict in America is 35 years old and male. The majority of them are drawn to spend hours play MMORPGs (massively multi-player online role-playing games) such as World of Warcraft and Rift. Symptoms of video game addiction include:
· Spending several hours each day playing video games
· Becoming defensive about the amount of time spend playing games, if confronted
· Staying home from work to spend more time playing games
· Neglecting friends, family, and significant others to play video games
The negative behavior associated with gaming bleeds over many other aspects of an individual's life. Psychologist Laura Walker says, "Video games are associated with negative behavior across the board, so the more people play video games, the more likely they were to drink, use drugs, engage in risky sex. They had lowered levels of self-worth, lower levels of social acceptance, and lower relationship quality with friends and parents."
One aspect that is hurt most by video game addiction is a person's social interaction and their personal relationships. As the world of video games become more detailed and expansive, a person becomes so invested in this new world that it holds their focus, causing them to play longer. However, there is a direct correlation between the time spent gaming and the quality of peer relationships. These relationships include friends, family, and significant others.
Video game addiction occurs more often in males than it does in females. This leaves many girlfriends and wives feeling neglected when their significant other is focused on their virtual adventures. Many women feel that gaming, especially large amounts of it, take away from the quality time that the couple could be spending together. Others become annoyed as their significant others are distracted by their virtual world to the point that they forget about chores that need to be completed, bills that need to be paid, and appointments that need to be kept. With these tensions growing, it is not surprising that 20% women have left relationships over excessive gaming; nearly 70% of women admit that video games have caused tension in a personal relationship.
Individuals who are truly addicted to video games may need to receive counseling for their addiction, or other help to regain their focus on the real world. But before you chuck your significant other's Xbox 360 or specialty gaming keyboard out the window, and sign him (or her!) up for counseling, take a minute to assess what you can work on together. Address the problem at home, and look for solutions there.
· Talk to your significant other about their gaming addiction. Let them know that you feel that they spend too much time focused on the games, and you would like to spend time focused on each other.
· Try setting aside a time of the day when the gamer can unleash. Does your significant other's WoW guild schedule their big raid every Thursday night? Set aside a block of time on Thursdays! Work with your partner to reach a compromise that makes everyone happy.
· Try playing with them! Sure, you might have no interest in playing an Undead Healer running through instances until the ultimate battle with Deathwing the Destroyer in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (yet), but your significant other might appreciate the effort. An effort on your part may be just what your significant other needs to reciprocate.
You don't have to let video gaming addiction harm your relationship, yourself, or your significant other. There are solutions that you can implement in your home that can relieve the tension in your relationship, and encourage focus to be divided fairly among relationships, responsibilities, and hobbies.
You may have considered the questions "Is there such thing as a video game addiction?" for either yourself or someone you love. They have been playing for many hours and seem more interested more here in the game than in what is going on in real life or their school studies.
The quick response is to such a question is "yes a person can become addicted to video games". Although that is a quick answer, it does not explain many of the issues underlying the concerns of video game addiction. Some researchers are already labeling such behavior it as "Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)". Although some researchers have a name for the phenomena, they do not have definitive data supporting the 'Internet Addiction Disorder' as a diagnosis. The research community is still debating the issue. The psychology field often views the behavior as connected with depressive or anxiety disorders, while downplaying the addiction aspect. Addiction experts look at the addictive behavior pattern and recognize what they see. The body of research that does exist that relates to video gaming has evolved using the criteria for gambling addictions. The two behaviors often share much in common.
Addiction experts know that a person can become addicted to many behaviors. Some behaviors have a higher addictive potential than others. Any behavior that can rapidly change our mood and mental state has a potential for addiction. Since playing video games often includes repetitive behavior routines to the degree that other areas of a persons life are suffering, it shares much in common with other addictions.
One of the factors that makes video games addictive is the action. Many video games have fast action. When action occurs quickly, it functions to reward the person playing the game. Much like gambling addictions the person is stimulated by the action occurring and wants more. Despite all the activity occurring on the screen, the real action is in their head. The person over here playing devises more ways to create more action. Despite all the activity observed at the control pad, the action going on in their head is even faster and more intensive. There is large scale planning and problem solving going on in their head. Those wanting the action are actually seeking stimulation of those parts of their brain involved in their game play. Each time the brain is stimulated, new brain cell connections are established. Those new connections are actually rewiring their brain and how it processes information. The more action and play, try this out the more new neural this website connections are made. The person playing the video games is literally rewiring their brain.
If you could hook up a PET scan of a person's brain while they are playing video games, it would become very apparent what parts of the brain are being stimulated. The PET scan would also show the extent of that stimulation. The amount of brain chemicals being released is staggering. The addictionology experts who view 'video game addiction' from this perspective often see little difference in the brain activity of heavy video game users with those of gambling addicts.
Since the neurotransmitters the original source are more powerful than street drugs, the mood change can be very dramatic. In many cases, the problem for the video gamer is more often associated with depressed moods or anxiety, rather than the game play itself. It is suspected that the video gamers are using their play to 'self-medicate' or avoid unpleasant emotional mood states. If you watch a video game addict, you will see the mood altering aspects of video games. The release of the neurotransmitters creates a visible mood change, and change in their thinking. Much like a person can become addiction to a street drug, they do so with their own self-produced chemicals. You will also see the drug/addiction seeking behaviors as well. Instead of "jonesing" for street drugs, they actively seek out video games for their fix. It is not by accident that people refer to World of Warcraft as "World of War Crack".
Unlike street drugs, drug screen will not provide indications of whether or not someone is addicted to video games. The addition of all the lights, sounds and vibrations add to the level of stimulation. With the improvements in 3-D technology, the level of stimulation provided by games has increased. Many gamers seek a total sensory experience. The more potential sources of stimulation the better. This desire for total sensory experience is part of what motivates vibrating controllers, three-dimensional effects and stereophonic sound. They want to 'feel' the experience in as many ways as they can. Rather than the lack of stimulation as found in sensory deprivation tanks, they are seeking stimulation at the opposite end of the sensory spectrum.
The problems arise when the amount of play becomes destructive. When the person neglects hygiene, daily activities, sleep, eating and other self-care, they are well on their way to addiction. Since video games are more acceptable stimulation than gambling or drugs, many addictive personalities often resort to this activity to hide or mask their addictions. Instead of overcoming their previous addiction, they have transferred it to another object. If you watch serious video game players you will see the many mood altering experiences they go through when playing their games.
Does this mean that anyone who plays video games is addicted? The answer to that is "no". What it does mean is that when their activities of daily living are significantly impacted, they are playing too much. Before you assume that someone you know is addicted to video games, you will need to consider the big picture of their functioning. The real problem may be family related, loneliness, depressed mood or anxiety. The gaming is their way of dealing with it. When video gaming is identified as the problem, the underlying issues are often not addressed. It is often easier to blame 'War Craft" or "Grand Theft Auto" as the problem rather than address what makes such games so attractive to the gamer, or what problems they are experiencing.