Electronic games are induced as a leisure option in the present day. However, many young people become addicted and become slaves to these games.
Dangers of Electronic Games: Your Brain Gets Addicted
There are cases of people who died after long hours in front of a computer, as is the case of an 18 year old boy who died after playing the game Diablo III for 40 hours!
Young people, in search of false happiness, end up in a virtual world, where their aspirations, even the most morbid, end up having a successful appearance, and thus, when they face reality, they end up finding life tiresome, monotonous, and sometimes even go as far as suicide.
Already there are clinics and associations dedicated to treating people addicted to electronics, such as the American association called On-line Gamers Anonymous, founded by Elizabeth Woolley after her son commit suicide due to the game in which he was addicted.
There are cases of people who can not differentiate the virtual from the real and end up committing crimes like the case of a teenager named Devin Moore, who was arrested suspected of having stolen a car. He played a well-known game called GTA. The young man had no criminal record and would probably be released with a warning.
But when he arrived at the police station, Devin stole a police officer’s gun, fired two of them and hit an emergency room clerk. He then attempted to escape by stealing a police car, but was recaptured without much difficulty. After being arrested again, he showed no regret for his actions, saying, Life is like a video game. Everyone has to die sometime.
A survey by Iowa State University and the National Institute of Media and Family shows that at least six symptoms of addiction in general, also presented by gambling addicts, such as lying to family and friends about the time they spend playing, are characteristics in young addicts in electronics.
In addition, players also fail to do school duties or spend a lot of time involved with games, presenting low-quality schoolworks and making learning difficult.
While the medical community does not recognize videogame addiction as a mental disorder, this study will be one of many that will allow us to discuss the positive and negative effects of video games, said Dr. Douglas Gentile, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Iowa.
There are some signs that are common to people who are addicted to electronic games, such as:
- Spends a lot of time on the computer or video game;
- Goes on the defensive when confronted about the problem;
- Loses the notion of time;
- Prefer to spend more time in games than with friends and family;
- Loses interest in activities that were once important;
- You become socially isolated, irritable, or cranky;
- Establishes a new social life, with only online friends;
- Neglects schoolwork and suffers to get good grades at school;
- Spends money on unexplained activities;
- Try to hide that he/she spent some time playing.
Only trained specialists can diagnose this type of problem. Still, they agree that the games have addictive features, which are instant gratification, fast paced and unpredictability. Everything that characterizes a dependency is present in the electronic games.
How do video games make your brain addicted?
There has long been talk about the evils and benefits that games can bring to young people. Now, an article in the journal Neurology Now reveals some data that shows that games can affect teenagers’ minds, whether beneficial or not.
According to the article, excessive contact with electronic games can cause changes in teenage behavior. The text relates to dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked directly to addiction in games, including electronics.
In studies, the brain’s overproduction of dopamine has proven high enough to almost disable the prefrontal cortex, the brain region linked to decision-making, judgment, and self-control. This causes players to lose some of the time, leaving aside other tasks such as study or work.
Since this region of the brain will only be completely formed when the person is between 25 and 30 years old, this type of problem is even more worrying in young people.
We have already reported here some cases of people who could not get out of the front of the screen and ended up even dying because of this after spending several days without disconnecting from the virtual world.
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How is dopamine produced?
Dopamine is a stimulant, and according to Dr. David Greenfield, founder of the Technology and Internet Dependency Center, the reward structure of the games is similar to that of a slot machine: the player insists to hit a record, very difficult enemy or find a rare item in an RPG, not knowing exactly when (and if) will achieve those goals.
This causes the brain to produce much more dopamine while the person plays, leading to lesser production in other situations and causing an imbalance.
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According to neurologist Judy Willis, the way gaming works is great. They feed the brain with information in a way in which learning is maximized. However, the way games reward players is precisely what can cause changes in the brain, both positively and negatively.
Of course, these effects are different from person to person. Just as feeding, dopamine production and the effects of different games have divergent results in specific individuals, for example: some young people may become more dependent than others, as well as action games can improve visual ability and reflection of others.
How to avoid video game problems?
Dr. Judy Willis believes that young people should not be banned from playing video games, even if they can cause problems. That’s because they can also bring benefits. In this way, she recommends that parents be careful about how their children play.
She says the ideal is not to blame games, but to have a healthy relationship with them. Also, make sure your children have contact with other activities besides games and avoid overeating.
This requires paying close attention to how your children behave. One tip is to put video games, computers and other electronics in common areas of the house, places that can be monitored more easily. In addition, parents should also set time limits for games, as young people have some difficulty in establishing this.
Dr. Willis also recommends parents talk and engage in their children’s activities early on, whether away from home or at games. Sharing experiences with children can be a healthy way to avoid problems.
Balance is the best thing
Video games are a great learning tool. Studies have shown that video games can stimulate certain abilities in the brain. The act of learning involves the repetition of certain activities over a period of time, and doing so in games leads the brain to create new nerve connections linked to the specific activity.
An example of this is some strategy games in which players are required to make short, medium and long-term decisions – all at the same time. This stimulates the brain to be easier to make decisions and perform multiple tasks at the same time.
However, this type of stimulus needs balance. Encouraging only this kind of activity can make it difficult for young people to focus on only one thing, such as studies or reading, for example.
The risk of addiction
Generally speaking, the biggest risk with games is to become addicted. This happens more easily and quickly than we think, and often the person only realizes when the addiction has settled. The addiction in video games is just like any other (drugs, alcohol, cigarette, etc).
Becoming addicted has a huge impact on personality, physical and mental health, and on social relationships. Therefore, we must be very careful and always be alert with regard to video games.
The main symptoms of video game addiction are: a significant amount of time spent on these practices and, above all, a time robbed of other activities necessary for balance, such as social, family and friendship relationships (isolation at home); the inability to control this time and reduce their playing time; the impact on the study or work, the impact on the food balance or sleep, a psychic suffering linked to the use of video games: sadness, anxiety, aggression, etc.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it’s time to question yourself. In cases where it is impossible to self-control, it is best to consult a specialist or a psychiatrist urgently. You can also start talking about your problem in a psychology forum.
How to avoid pitfalls
First, you need to learn to control yourself, that is, start to control the time you spend playing and, most importantly, the number of consecutive hours you spend on the screen. It is advisable to make at least a 15 minute break every hour. Learn to keep a distance from the game world and be careful about your consumption in general. As for minors, respect for the codes implemented by PEGI is essential, even if you are convinced that it is nothing; in fact, it affects your thinking and behavior.
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