Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chapter 6 from my Teen Video Game Addiction Workbook

Chapter 6: Am I Alone? (What type of teen is most likely to become addicted to gaming?)

The majority of gamers -- particularly those who favor MMORPGs -- are very smart and enjoy problem-solving. The majority of gamers are motivated to do the right thing in life -- such as complete school work, follow house rules, show respect for family and friends, and achieve a meaningful career. Likewise, the majority of parents of gamers are intelligent, kind, concerned, and want their children to have a good quality of life.

So, if most gamers are smart and well-motivated and come from kind and supportive families, why do they end up becoming addicted to video games?

1)    Most teens that run into problems with video gaming start gaming at a very early age, usually six years or younger. Starting gaming at an early age sets in motion a potential lifetime of recreational/leisure time spent in isolation with technology. The brain becomes wired for stimulation through technology -- and then rejects other forms of stimulation (e.g., “I’m not interested in going to the beach. I want to stay home and play Mario”).
2)    Most addicted gamers have significant amounts of unstructured and unsupervised time, particularly after school hours and on weekends (usually due to parents who work and have other children that need attention).
3)    Most addicted gamers have computers and video game consoles in their bedrooms (this is a BIG mistake).
4)    Most addicted gamers come from families who have the financial resources to purchase gaming systems, upgrade gaming systems, have multiple laptops, and have multiple handheld devices. It makes sense that families that can afford to give their children the latest in technology would be more likely to develop problems using technology.
5)    Most addicted gamers have very few off-line or “real world” friends and usually have a history of struggling socially with their peers. For example, children and teens diagnosed with a form of high functioning autism, called Asperger’s syndrome, have significant problems developing relationships with their peers and seem to feel most comfortable socially within gaming communities.
6)    Many addicted gamers have problems focusing or concentrating on repetitive tasks or tasks they find boring -- such as chores and homework. Many children and teens that have been diagnosed with ADHD struggle with repetitive tasks, organization, and concentration, but excel in the world of video gaming.
7)    The vast majority of addicted gamers are male. Although girls enjoy video gaming, they are much more likely to be drawn to social media and are very rarely interested in role-playing games or real-time strategy games.
8)    There seems to be a relationship between gaming addiction and mental health problems, particularly depression. It makes sense that someone who feels sad and/or lonely would be drawn to the excitement of role-playing games and real-time strategy games.
9)    Most addicted gamers have anxiety about taking risks in social situations. Video gaming allows anxious teens to avoid the challenge of negotiating and overcoming risks by offering a virtual world where success, power, strength, and popularity can be achieved without having to undergo the ups and downs that are part of everyday life.
10)                   And, finally, most addicted gamers did not establish hobbies that gave them pleasure in the outdoors. Addicted gamers typically spent all of their time indoors before gaming took control of their life. Living indoors deprives the mind and body of positive experiences that increase self-esteem.

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