The excessive use of video games by children, adolescents and adults is an issue that has long concerned the World Health Organization (WHO) and that led some countries to take harsh measures regarding the limit of use.
This week, WHO updated the International Classification of Diseases (IDC) and included the video game addiction like a new “preventable” and “treatable” mental disorder.
Read more: How to recognize and combat the addiction of boys to video games
According to the section, this addiction is characterized by a “behavior of persistent game or recurring that is carried out mainly over the Internet ”and is evidenced by three main behaviors:
- Loss of control over the frequency, intensity, and duration of activity
- Games take priority over other interests in life and daily activities
- The conduct is maintained despite the fact that it begins to bring negative consequences for the affected person.
Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of the WHO, pointed out: “We include the clutter from addictive gambling after analyzing the little evidence we have and after listening to a Scientific Committee that suggested including it as a illness that can and should be treated ”.
As he explained, the problem appears when consumption is abusive and changes the normal behavior of the person who exercises it. For this reason, it was included in the section on the use of pernicious support and others addictive behaviors.
“If the child, adolescent or adult who plays does so without stopping and stops going out with his friends, doing activities with his parents, isolates himself, does not study, does not sleep and only wants to play, those are warning signs that you might be engaging in addictive behavior and that have to seek help”, He warned.
China It is one of the countries in the world that has shown great concern about achieving what most adults do not achieve: limiting the time that children spend with video games. In fact, minors from that country can only dedicate three hours a week to online games.
The effect of inappropriate use of video games on the brain
Mariela Caputo, psychopedagogue, master’s degree in Clinical Neuropsychology and PhD researcher at the UBA School of Medicine, spoke about the risks for the mental health excessive use of video games: “It should be clarified that the proper use of video games is very effective in developing a functional stimulation Y basic cognitive skills for learning such as attention, perception, memory and executive functions. However, used in excess, they can produce certain addiction, stress, antisocial behaviors, eyestrain, hearing problems, various injuries and back pain ”.
The specialist pointed out that the WHO added a type of specific difficulty that she called the “Video game disorder” within mental problems, due to these new symptom.
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In this sense, he warned: “The use of video games is directly associated with the brain reward system, who expects to receive a type of satisfaction and pleasure before a achievement acquired. There are some games that are specially designed for this to happen, with the guarantee that the user will continue to consume it ”.
And he warned: “When this circuit is fed back in an intense way, large amounts of dopamine, that take the child, adolescent or adult to a state of euphoria, which can induce you to feel apathy and anxiety. When there is an excess of dopamine, the brain induces the body to carry out unnecessary movements, such as repetitive tics”.
Dependence on video games as an Internet addiction
Martha Shaw and Donald Black, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa, in the United States, asserted in a study that the dependence on video games it is part of a broader addiction to the Internet. The study defines it as “concerns, impulses or excessive behaviors or poorly controlled regarding computer use and internet access leading to a off-side The anguish”.
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“The stress in life leads to a craving for behaviors and escape mechanisms. The pandemic has increased stress in people’s lives and a convenient way to escape is to use digital media for entertainment, such as games Y social networks. The excessive use of these means is a risk factor for the development of addictive behaviors”, They concluded.
The case of the Canadian addicted to video games
Cam Adair, a 32-year-old Canadian, revealed the problem of video game addiction. The young man publicly confessed to the BBC having lived through hell. The pandemic fueled his addiction, which led him to to lie and even wanting kill himself.
“I fought my addiction for 10 years. I dropped out of high school, never went to college and pretended to have jobs to cheat on my family, ”he confessed. And he lamented: “One night I wrote a suicide note and that’s when I realized that I needed help.”
“The pandemic led me to spend more time than usual in Twitch (a service of streaming that focuses on people in computer games) and on YouTube. A lot of content (on YouTube) was broadcast of video games, which could trigger a strong relapse. Fortunately, I was able to avoid it, but I know many people in the community of Game Quitters (“Game Dropouts,” an online support group for addicts) who fell back on their addiction during confinement, “he said.