What are the social consequences of video game addiction?

Video games are gaining wild popularity in our culture. But does playing video games negatively effect the time adolescents should be spending in more developmentally appropriate activities like sports and hanging out with friends? We take a look at the social consequences of gaming and discuss whether or not gaming can be social stimulating, or not.

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Does playing video games negatively effect the time adolescents should be spending in more developmentally appropriate activities like sports and hanging out with friends?  I’ve got a personal bone to pick with gaming.  Although I intellectually understand the appeal, I emotionally resent the pull of games.  Specifically, I wish that sports would once again replace video games.  Not to mention that it’s now the chosen method for how my husband unwinds at the end of the day.

I want to re-visit a 2007 study sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that focused on the relationship between time spent in video game play and other activities.  The study surveyed 1400+ teenagers and tweens aged 10-19 and found that ONLY 36% of them played video games between 1-1.5 hours a week.  But when these teens DID engage in playing video games, they tended to avoid the “distractions” of responsibilities like homework.

Furthermore, although gamers surveyed DID NOT spend less time than non-gamers with parents and friends, and seem to not be socially isolated…if they game without friends on the weekends, they also spend less time  with their friends in other activities. So, gamers seems to attract gamers. Sound like an addict model to you?

By far the most conclusive point of the study is concern regarding gamers’ neglect of school responsibilities (reading and homework). “Among gamers, on school days in particular, female gamers spent 34% less time doing homework and male gamers spent 30% less time reading. ” – Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2007;161(7):684-689.

It seems to me that video gaming, although not endemic, has the power to pull and attract teenagers into a certain way of relating with one another.  The same way my husband relates to his cousin when they battle it out on the FIFA football field.  And that, although manageable, video gaming does have consequences even when a teen is not “addicted” to the activity.  I’m interested in learning more about the academic and social outcomes of gaming as interactive media and technology become more and more a part our modern lives.

How do you think video games play do or do not influence adolescent development?  Or adult development, come to think of it … ?

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Gaming is certainly addictive. When two people spend time with each other that like let’s say basketball, star wars, base ball or transformers, they immediately connect with each other.

    When people connect with each other, they are willing to spend time to do what the other person will do. Some play because their friends play a certain game. Others spend more time with their game because of the competitive drive which extends their playing time.

  2. I totally agree. I’m doing research for a persuasive speech i have to do for school and i knew this would be the perfect topic because video games are very addictive and it does take kids away from what they should be doing which is homework and gaining social skills by hanging with friends and also this is probably leading to obesity becausekids aren’t getting the amount of exercise they need.

  3. I’d suggest that you first log the amount of time that he’s playing video games; get the hard facts. Then, with the help of an addiction who specializes in behavioral addictions like video game addiction, I’d plan an intervention. This is what I would do. Please let us know how it goes!

  4. Last year in december i was picked for the national team in kickboxing and am a straight A post grad student in Anthropology.

    Computergaming drastically ruined me, I have gained 40 pounds and have not attended an exam the past year. At first I thought that I had become mentally ill and it has taken me a year to identify the culprit and get to the point of ridding myself of computergames and adventure novels in order to save my academic career as well as my career as an athlete.

    I am also training to become a psychologist and it is throught my work here that I have methodically identified the problem and am currently getting back on track both academically and sportswise.

    At CFIN in Ã…rhus where I do fMRI research scientist have looked into dopamine and ludomania, and have found that this is highly addictive.

    But I found that it has to do with negative and positive motivation, instant and delayed gratification and overstimulation.

    It started with me moving away from my friends and every day rutine in order to pursue my academic career, I kept in touch with a friend by playing xbox a couple of times a week. But before I knew it I had quit sports, and was rapidly faling behind on my studies I had engaged in quite a large responsibility and my computergaming resulted in me making some impulsive decisions in my private and professional life, which then agian gave me a number of setbacks that I had a hard time dealing with, having not yet identified the culprit I started gaming more as I felt it made me unwind, and it was safe zone where I would´nt fail as I had done in real life.

    It was not until recently that The fact that hit me: I needed to get on with my studies if I was to salvage the hard work I had done, and get my degree.
    I started to suspect my that I had a gaming addiction when I gamed even though I had decided that I would work. Knowing a bit about the brain and its reward systems I wanted to find out how gaming had such a strong appeal.

    As an experiment I had my fiancé take some critical parts for my xbox controller with her to work, this resulted in me being able to study without the normal unease that I have. AHA I thought it seems that when I remove the option for immediate gratification and dopamine I can do my study which has long term gratification and little dopamin outlet.
    I swear that I for the first couple of days, had a gamin itch but due to family activities I was away from my game console for five days.

    And then stuff started to happen, my life outside gaming seemed to become enjoyable again, I got motivated for doing sports againg, dusted off my saxophone and am currently writing the essays that I had put off for so long. Why did I need to get rid of gaming?

    I was completely overstimulated by computer gaming. My brain got used to a very short work/ reward spand and constantly changing visual stimulation in a safe omnipotent warrior fantasy world that made my slow progress hard work worl seem extremely dull in comparison.

    I know that addictive behaviour runs in the familily which is why I stay away from drinking, smoking and have never done any drugs. But it turns out that in the absence of a dayli rutine I am very vunerable towards gaming addiction.

    I found out that in order to be able to live a normal life I cannot have the option of gaming in my house. When I now visit my friend and game with him, I amazed to see how he can game for hours on end in order to get 10 points in his gamerscore it seems so meaningless. Gaming is a waste of life and its a damn shame that so many good people waste away doing it. I am certainly done with gaming and am very much looking forward to becoming my old self again.

  5. The social affects on a child can be devastating. A child could go their whole life with no true connection to the outside world other than that of the internet video game world. It’s sad really.

  6. Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing your story. I am NOT an expert in gaming addiction, but it does sound as if this young man is experiencing some kind of shift in identity or personality. Whether it is a result of adolescence or the activities he chooses is not clear. I’d suggest that you recommend to your friend that she look into some preliminary information about video game addiction. I found a great document used in a Clemson University course on Human-Computer Interaction. All the best.

  7. Hello there,
    I am concerned about my son’s best friend or should I say he used to be his best friend. The boy lives two doors up from me and had been friends with my son since he was 5 and my son 4. We love him very much and he was a bit part of our family, even going on holidays with us. He is 12 now and has been playing a lot of violent games for years with his dad and friends. My son isn’t allowed to play those kind of games. Last Summer, for no apparent reason he stopped playing with my son and hung out with other boys, not from the area. This really upset my son (and me!) As soon as school started up again he became friends with my son. Last month, for no reason at all he dropped my son again. His mum knows about this behaviour and said it has happened several times with another friend that he had. Today she mentioned this about her son and when I asked her what does he do she said he plays a lot of a violent video game…

    I had put his behaviour down to the fact that he was in contact with his birth dad for the first time last year, that and being a pre-teen! However, I think that there is a chance that he is behaving like this because he may be addictied to video games. What do you think?

    Can you reply here on your blog and my neighbour/friend reads my blog.

    thank you.

  8. This is a very interesting article from my stand point in that these things should have been looked at a long time ago. Just like drugs and alcohol these things are behavioral issues. Life problems. If a child has gotten to this point in there life than we as parents must take a look at ourselves and ask where have we been as parents?

    Video games, internet, violent behavior and other addictive behaviors in our children’s lives should be given a hard look @ as we progress in the rearing of our children. The cheapest babysitter in the world is just that. We are getting what we pay for. You buy a cheap car that is what you get.

    Society, for the most part, only wants to take a look at the bad things when someting goes wrong. Our lawmakers make talking on cell phones illegal when we drive. That is fine. But what happen to the part of texting while driving? The people that pass / make up the laws didn’t even think of that until six month’s after passing the talking while driving.

    What does it or will it take to wake up our society? To become more accountable to ourselves and others. For the most part we are / have become extremely complacent and lazy. We are no longer hungry. The rest of the world is passing us up while our motivation has dried up. The rest of the worlds hunger might be hap hazard, disorganized and chaotic, yet they are moving forward.

    Our Country has basically had to go bankrupt and look for Government stimulus to rebuild ourselves. Where is the leadership from within? Not the pork belly feeding legislatures, but the true leaders? The heads of house, not the CEO’s, but the boss, the person in the trenches who really knows what the right hand is doing.

    Parent’s in much the same way have become CEO’s, they have lost sight of what goes on below them. They are more accountable to their child’s teacher, coach, doctor than they are to their child. Families, much like government have lost sight of the true mission and are busy passing the buck. If we want a better world for our children let’s start making the changes where we need to start. With ourselves. Let’s take ownershipand provide for our childen and ourself as it was done for ourself.

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