Video Games and Addiction

Caitlin Grisham, Editor

Videogames are a common pastime for many. They help relieve stress, allow many to meet new people across the globe, are a way to hangout with friends when the ability to hangout in person isn’t there, and are an escape for many.

With the added stress of the past couple years, and an increase of mental health issues the idea of healthy gaming has slowly devolved into an addiction for many, especially those with neurodivergent brains and maladaptive coping skills. 

Even before the pandemic, teens were playing video games for hours each day. But in 2020, those numbers skyrocketed, with at least 70 percent of kids under 18 on consoles. With remote schooling and limited activities outside the home, teens are using gaming for distraction and to combat loneliness and isolation,” Newport Academy stated in Jan. 6, 2021, article titled “The Latest Research on Teenage Video Game Addiction”.

Video games being used as a coping mechanism isn’t new. For many, it’s the reality and, “Video games serve as a form of escape and a way to numb distress and discomfort,” reads the same article.

The problem with certain coping mechanisms is when these methods of coping begin to take over one’s life. 

“Research shows a correlation between teenage video game addiction and the prevalence of depression and anxiety,” according to the Newport Academy article.” Studies have also found that adolescents with an insecure attachment to parents are more prone to internet addiction, including gaming.” 

Many don’t have an alternate escape from the problems they are battling, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional problems. The behavior then tends to become impulsive and obsessive; it begins to take over other aspects of life. This is a more than common occurrence in those with ADHD, or ADHD behaviors. Consequently, gaming then becomes a very addicting pastime, Healthline further elaborates on this.

The game’s constant flickering of light and sound effects work as “crutches for attention — they support your attention so you don’t have to work hard to attend,” Gentile, a Heathline source, said. “That’s very different than being in the classroom where the teacher doesn’t have sound effects, lighting, special effects, music, and camera angles.” Healthline stated, “Ritalin, the ADHD medication, raises dopamine levels, and other research has found that it can reduce gaming.”