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Something to Ponder….

Something to Ponder….

Video Game Dependency and Video Game Addiction are now being recognized as diagnoses in several diagnostic manuals. This is an easily dismissed epidemic that is wreaking havoc on our children’s brains.

Experts estimate that more than 3 million Americans between 8 and 18 could be suffering from video game dependency. There could be about 1 million more diagnosable dependent gamers in America than coke addicts. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recently christened the phenomenon as “internet gaming disorder.” The DSM warns that such “persistent and recurrent online activity results in clinically significant impairment or distress,” adding that certain neural pathways are triggered just like a drug addicts’ would be when ingesting their substance of choice.

One of the main researchers, Douglas Gentile, began his research in 1999 to disprove the notion that video games can be addictive. He has now proven himself wrong and is very passionate about bringing attention to the pathological gaming. There is no “typical” gaming addict. After tracking 3,000 kids for 3 years Gentile learned people with mental health problems or attention disorders are more inclined toward escapism and, therefore, habitual gaming. But on top of that, people who game consistently from a young age will develop attention disorders and social anxiety, which cripple them in school, leading to more intense mental health problems and a stronger drive to game.

“I wanted to shut out real life totally. I just wanted to climb in the game and stay there.” —Patricia, a 69-year-old gaming addict in recovery. When Patricia sobered up in 2011, she experienced intense withdrawal symptoms similar to those of cocaine: sleeplessness, anxiety, and hallucinations.

“I decided that the progression of my WoW (World of Warcraft) character was more meaningful than the progression of myself in real life. It’s so much more quantifiable. It’s so visible. It’s more entertaining than real life, it’s easier than real life.” —Brett

Games like World of Warcraft aren’t inherently evil or even inherently habit-forming. In fact, all the addicts interviewed—they prefer to be called “addicts” regardless of their recovery status, like AA members—stressed that their game of choice was irrelevant to their gaming dependency. They latched on to a variety of games ranging from Tetris to Halo.

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