Are Students Addicted to Video Games?

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Are Students Addicted to Video Games?

Is too much gaming becoming an epidemic among America's youth?

Is too much gaming becoming an epidemic among America's youth?

Photo courtesy of www.nobelcoaching.com

Is too much gaming becoming an epidemic among America's youth?

Photo courtesy of www.nobelcoaching.com

Photo courtesy of www.nobelcoaching.com

Is too much gaming becoming an epidemic among America's youth?

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Video games are a worldwide phenomenon attracting millions of people to millions of screens every day. Many students like them because they take the stress off from school and they are really fun to play, especially with friends and family. However, with people gaming now more than ever, the real question is, what is the overall effect?

According to newzoo.com, which is a leading global provider of games and esports analytics, 97% of teens in the U.S play video games and 72% of those are actually addicted to video games. Is this the case at Benjamin? Some teachers think so.

www.gameaware.com
According to studies, 90% of the popular video games portray violence.

I started to notice last year when students fell asleep in my class,” said eighth-grade history teacher Mrs. Anne Franzen. “I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a reflection of the content I was teaching. This year, far too many students are falling asleep in classes and have honestly admitted that they’ve stayed up all night gaming.”

Like Franzen, Dean of Students Mr. Jeffrey Cavallo believes that gaming is disrupting academics and thinking skills. “I think because of the gaming and online activity, whether it is relating to gaming or not, a lot of the time students stay up too late,” he said. “Therefore, it compounds itself by [making them] overtired which then trickles back to school. Their performance is not going to be as high as it should.”

Fortnite, the international online phenomenon which is played by 250 million people worldwide according to www.engadget.com, has driven kids and even adults to stay in their homes and play for hours. The game is a third-person shooter where users compete against one another online by killing each other to be the last survivor on an island.

In addition to making the game addicting, Fortnite’s publisher, Epic Games, also implemented in-game purchases such as item shop skins (outfits) for players’ characters that can cost up to $20. Many users often try and get all the skins they can to show off their collection. Some of the rarer skins are not available to the public any more, so people search for accounts to buy online to access those skins which can cost thousands of dollars. These skins are merely cosmetic and don’t help users in the game, but avid Fortnite fans enjoy collecting them, and it can become a very expensive hobby.

The content of the games is also an issue of some concern. According to the www.healthline.com article “Do Video Games Make Kids Saints or Psychopaths (and Why Is It So Hard to Find Out)?”, researchers Douglas Gentile and Craig Anderson of Iowa State University write “that violence [in video games] is often portrayed as justified, fun, and without negative consequences.”  

Also, the website states that games which include violent content, such as Fortnite, are linked to more aggressive behavior in teens. Unfortunately, 90% of popular video games portray violence, and the average daily time among kids who play video games ages 8 to 18 rose from 26 minutes per day in 1999 to almost 110 minutes (nearly two hours) per day by 2009 according to the article.

Another report by www.cnbc.com states that Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, said at a recent event at a West London YMCA, “[Fortnite is] created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible.” In that same article, the author writes that “Even the World Health Organization weighed in on the issue of addictive video games last summer, with WHO officially recognizing ‘gaming disorder’ as a mental health condition afflicting gamers who can lack control over their playing habits for periods of months at a time.”

Photo courtesy of www.dhgate.com
Many video game users are switching from consoles to personal computers which are more powerful and efficient.

Because of this possible addiction to video games, some TBS students like eighth-grader Anthony Pace have restrictions on their gaming devices. “I usually play about an hour-and-a-half [on weekdays] and on the weekend I play four hours a day,” he said. “My dad has a screen time limit for my phone, so it’s kinda lame and I don’t get to sleep with my phone since my parents are strict.”

Like Pace, eighth-grader Eric Levine also has limits placed on his playing time. “During the week if I finish my homework, I play around 30 minutes to an hour,” he said. “During the weekend I play thirty minutes to four hours spread out through the day.”

Although video games can be addictive and violent, there are also positive outcomes associated with playing. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), video games may help children improve their manual dexterity and computer literacy. According to a 2014 study by the aforementioned Gentile, an associate professor of psychology, pro-social games which reward players for building a town or helping others within the game encourage children to show more empathy and helpfulness in their daily lives.

According to Healthline, the article states, “many games promote prosocial behaviors, such as cooperation, teamwork, sharing, and empathy. One analysis found that even playing first-person shooter games increases visual-spatial skills and that playing strategy or role-playing games boosts creative problem-solving skills. It also showed that games can improve mood, promote relaxation, and decrease stress and anxiety.”

So video games have both positive and negative effects, but in terms of the negative, do violent video games cause aggression, or do kids who are predisposed to aggression later in life also play more violent video games?

There is evidence out there that supports both points of view, but the bottom line is that too much of anything is a bad thing. Kids playing video games for several hours a day means less time for sleep, exercise, school work, and interpersonal relationships with friends and family. If that’s the case, it’s game over for many students who face the prospect of failing grades, failing health, and failing friendships. However, if they hit the reset button, or have adults in their lives who can help them by setting firm guidelines and monitoring their game play, they can avoid being sucked into the void of video game addiction.

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