Video gaming can become addictiveDr. Veita Bland / February 10, 2023
Video gaming is an extremely popular past time for many people. It is estimated that 2.7 billion people worldwide are gamers. Experts note that 75 percent of homes in this country have at least one gamer.
For most people it is a fun and harmless form of entertainment, a fun way to spend time. There are unfortunately those who become totally addicted to the games. It becomes their sole reason to live. Experts estimate that 5-6 percent of these gamers become obsessed and even addicted to virtual reality video gaming.
Unfortunately, the brain mechanisms that are involved in game addictions are the exact same ones that are involved with other substance addictions. The active use of illicit substances initially brings pleasure. The brain chemical that is responsible for pleasure and reward is known as dopamine. Evolution has made dopamine the chemical we are rewarded with when mating and eating. The two most important activities for the survival of the species. You continue to engage in mating and eating because it is pleasurable, and the pleasure ensures you will continue to engage in those activities.
With gaming, there is a constant reward as you win in this virtual world. There is admiration in this universe. This admiration is not in the real world so the gaming world becomes the world of choice. The brain cannot tell the difference between a hit of dopamine from a game or from an illicit drug. They both bring pleasure.
This does not happen overnight but is rather an acquired addiction. There are signs that parents, friends and family can look for that tell you your gamer is getting into trouble.
- They want to game all the time and will not leave the house unless necessary.
- They will not want to go on vacation or spend any time away from their screen unless there is gaming apparatus where they are going.
- They will rush through routine activities such as meals, schoolwork and other activities so they can resume gaming.
- There are changes in their patterns of daily living such as social interactions with others, they stop bathing, there is less physical activity, and their grades are falling.
This can take a major toll on their bodies and can result in extreme cases in blood clots in the legs from sitting and gaming all the time. Imbalances may occur in their body fluid by not eating for long periods of time. Development of obesity may occur due to a lack of physical activity.
If these signs are observed in your gamer, stop and take the time to speak with them. See if you can re-direct them to the real world. Start to limit their gaming time and if unable to do so, seek help for them. They will need a therapist who specializes in treating people with gaming addictions.
Be aware of your gamers and their screen time. Promoting a balance in activities is important.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at email@example.com.