11 March 2017

Gaming Addiction a Rising Problem but Study Finds Violent Games Do Not Cause Increased Aggression

Addiction commonly refers to the illness caused by those who cannot control their compulsion to use drugs or drink alcohol. However, in reality, addiction is actually any pattern of behaviour that negatively impacts the life of an individual. So, in theory, it is possible to become addicted to anything. This is evident in the number of people struggling with a gaming addiction these days.

Gaming addiction is increasingly common in children and teenagers, and since the advent of online gaming, the problem has worsened. Many youngsters spend hours at a time playing games, which is resulting in them being unable to socialise in the real world.

Some will forego other activities and responsibilities in favour of playing games, and this is having a negative impact on their development and well-being. Parents have been complaining that their children are not eating properly and are not getting enough sleep because of their gaming addictions.

Others have protested that certain video games are responsible for making people more aggressive and violent, and they are worried that this could be impacting on the wider community. However, scientists have now debunked that theory.

Aggression Levels

After years of warnings from academics that first person ‘shooter’ games were responsible for an increase in antisocial behaviour and crime, a major new study has found that levels of aggression in those who play these games for hours at a time were the same as those who never play. Using psychological questionnaires and brain scans, researchers found no difference in capacity for empathy among both groups.

For years, there have been fears that games such as Grand Theft Auto, where players are part of a criminal gang committing violent crimes, has caused an increase in crime. One politician in Salford back in 2015 said that a rise in gun violence in the area was the result of ‘a diet of war games and Grand Theft Auto’.

Skewed Results

Researchers have now said that the results of earlier studies have probably been skewed because they tended to assess the psychological state of participants directly after they had been playing these games.

In this new study, scientists from Hannover Medical School did not carry out tests on players until at least three hours after they had finished playing these violent games. This allowed them to test the long-term psychological impact of violent gaming.

During the study, two groups were tested – those who played between two and four hours every day and those who did not play violent video games regularly. Both groups completed psychological questionnaires so that scientists could assess the level of aggression and empathy among participants.

Participants were then given MRI brain scans while being shown a series of images that were designed to elicit an empathetic or emotional response. Scientists asked participants to imagine themselves being involved in the situation in the image.

With both the questionnaires and the brain scans, there were no differences between regular gamers and non-gamers. Lead researcher Dr Gregor Szycik said, “We hope that the study will encourage other research groups to focus their attention on the possible long-term effects of video games on human behaviour.”

However, despite this study showing no difference in aggression levels, Dr Szycik did admit that his study was prompted by an increased number of people seeking help for a gaming addiction.

Overcoming a Gaming Addiction

There is no doubting the fact that gaming addiction exists; those affected and their families will certainly testify to this. It is important that those who do develop such an addiction access help as soon as possible. Here at UKAT, we have experience in helping patients to overcome all types of addiction, including gaming addictions.

If you or a loved one needs help for a video game addiction, we urge you to get in touch with us today. If you are unsure whether your gaming use would constitute an addiction, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel irritable or restless when you are unable to play your video game?
  • Do your thoughts become preoccupied with gaming?
  • Are you lying to loved ones about the amount of time you spend gaming?
  • Do you prefer to play games than spend time with others?
  • Is your home/work life suffering because of your gaming?
  • Do you struggle with fatigue because you are spending too much time playing games?

If you have answered yes to the above questions, it is highly likely that you have a gaming addiction and, if so, you need help immediately.

Contact us today for more information about our treatment programmes. We have a number of clinics across the country where you can access excellent rehabilitation programmes designed to suit your needs and circumstances. We urge you to get in touch with us for more information on how we can help.

Source: Violent video games like Grand Theft Auto do not make players more aggressive, major new study finds (The Telegraph)

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