Why Gaming Shouldn’t Be Feared
Gaming addiction, like all addictions, is down to self-control
The classification of gaming addiction as an official disorder shouldn’t come as a surprise. Earlier this year Donald Trump was adamant that violent games and films were causing school shootings, despite the complete lack of evidence to support the claim. And the ever-increasing popularity of games like Fortnite among a younger audience has led to stories emerging of children wetting themselves during a gaming-binge. Let’s not forget about the people who have actually died after playing for days on end. These stories can be terrifying to gamers and their parents, but gaming disorder isn’t as simple as ‘playing video games on a daily basis’. In fact, the World Health Organisation has stated that gaming disorders “affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities.” Isn’t it the same with anything we consume, like television and social media?
Yes, some video games are horrifically violent, but they don’t try to pretend they aren’t. If you even go to look at certain games on platforms such as Steam you are redirected to an age verification page, or forewarned about possible NSFW and sensitive themes. Even before online transactions were available you had to provide ID in shops to purchase things like Grand Theft Auto. Many developers are rigorous with rating their titles to avoid an inappropriate audience, and many retailers won’t even stock an unrated product. So people saying that gaming is completely unmonitored are completely false. All it takes is a quick google search to know what the game’s age rating is and what to expect when you play it.
This brings me to my next point: the parents are at least part of the issue with child gaming addiction. Now I’m not saying that you need to stand over your son or daughter while they’re on their iPad or computer and watch everything they do, but parents do need to moderate their children’s screen time. You wouldn’t just believe that they’ve got no homework if they told you, would you? So why should you automatically believe them if they say they’re playing The Sims? The same rule applies to the amount of time they spend on a device in the first place. I’m 18 and my mother still reminds me every hour to get up and get some exercise or do some chores or to make plans with friends, because you do forget when you’re scrolling through Twitter for hours on end.
Despite all the negative things you hear about gaming, there are certain benefits. There have been many studies that suggest that a healthy balance of video games can improve multitasking, visual tracking abilities and muscle memory and combats age-related mental decline. Don’t just take my word for it though – check out this pdf that list the benefits in more official/scientific terms.
Gaming addiction, like all addictions, is down to self-control. Some people just have an addictive personality, but most know when to put down the controller and take a break. Even the biggest Esports stars have other interests beyond gaming. So don’t be afraid to boot up your Xbox and play some FIFA with your mates, just so long as you know when to stop.