There is no doubt that modern technology has changed the face of society. Smart phones have replaced touch-tone phones in a way that not only provides instant telephone access, but also ensures we can check e-mail, browse the Internet, and check the weather report in the time it takes to push a few buttons. Videoconferencing allows for face-to-face meetings with people on the other side of the world. And the marvels of the World Wide Web are just too numerous to recount.
But technology has changed more than the way we conduct everyday business. More and more we turn to technology for our entertainment as well.
And, this is especially true for our youth.Gaming . . . harmless fun or addictive behavior?
Playing video games is a huge source of entertainment. But what may on the surface seem to be fun and games, this popular pastime could have a negative impact on a child’s mental health.
A new study reveals that excessive gaming may contribute to anxiety, depression, and poor academic performance. The study looked at more than 3000 children of elementary and middle school age and found that approximately 9% of them were actually addicted to gaming
. While this particular study examined children in Singapore, similar percentages held true in other countries.
Researchers found that 84% of children who play video games excessively were still playing to the same degree two years later. Not surprisingly, more boys than girls showed signs of excessive gaming. The majority of these pathological gamers experienced higher levels of depression as well as other mental health issues when compared to those who played less frequently. The good news is that when students reduced excessive gaming they also reduced the levels of anxiety, depression, and social phobia.
Currently the medical community is debating if pathological video gaming has a place in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.Determining the level of addiction.
In order to determine the level of addictive gaming, researchers probed the students with questions such as were they growing more and more preoccupied with video games, did they ever lie about how much time they spent playing, whether grades dropped, and if playing provided an escape from negative feelings . . . all questions similar to those used to diagnose other addictions. If gaming caused problems in the student’s life, the young person was labeled “pathological” or “addicted” to video games.
Pathological gamers spent more than 31 hours a week playing. Impulsive and socially awkward children were found to be more likely to become addicted.
Not surprisingly, the Entertainment Software Association has a problem with the findings of the study. According to a statement from the organization, “There simply is no concrete evidence that computer and video games cause harm. In fact, a wide body of research has shown the many ways games are being used to improve our lives through education, health and business applications.”How much is too much?
As in most things in life, it appears moderation is key. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that elementary children should have no more than one hour of video games a day, and high-schoolers should have no more than two. Of course, some would argue those hours would be better spent outside playing sports or talking and laughing with friends. But perhaps that’s just too “old school” in today’s technological world.