Why Do Some Video Gamers Become Addicted? What the Research Says Recently researchers Laura Stockdale and Sarah Coyne identified a sample of teens and young adults who were addicted to video games. Laura and Sarah had the addicted gamers answer a 9-item internet gaming disorder scale. Their answers were compared to peers who played […]
Why Do Some Video Gamers Become Addicted?
What the Research Says
Recently researchers Laura Stockdale and Sarah Coyne identified a sample of teens and young adults who were addicted to video games. Laura and Sarah had the addicted gamers answer a 9-item internet gaming disorder scale. Their answers were compared to peers who played video games but were not addicted. They found that addicted gamers were more anxious and depressed. Additionally addicted gamers exhibited poorer impulse control and decreases in cognitive functioning. Intuitively parents understand this. For instance they may frequently witness their children have meltdowns and temper tantrums when they cannot play their game.
Now other research has shown that poor impulse control and poor cognitive functioning are risk factors for developing certain addictions (including video game addiction). This research suggests that individuals are predisposed to developing video game addiction if they suffer from impulse control or poor cognitive functioning.
Another study found that gaming addiction was most likely to occur in individuals who were struggling with depression. For instance these individuals used games as a coping mechanism and as avoidant behavior. In essence depressed people played video games as a way to cope with their depression or as a way to avoid their depression.
What Questions the Research Raises
These studies are interesting food for thought as they highlight a chicken or the egg scenario. Do people develop anxiety and depression as a result of their video game addiction? Or do they develop video game addiction as a result of their anxiety or depression? Does video game addiction cause decreases in impulse control and cognitive functioning? Or does poor impulse control and cognitive functioning cause video game addiction?
Researchers will continue to look for answers to these questions. Regardless of which came first there are individuals who are struggling with video game addiction that need help. Video game addiction is real with real effects.
What to Do if You or Someone You Know Suffers From Video Game Addiction
If you or someone you know is suffers from video game addiction link them to a mental health professional. Attempts to help them by removing their access to video games most likely will not work. For instance this could make the gamer feel misunderstood. Additionally if they are using video games as a coping mechanism removing the games could worsen their depression if they have it.