Is Gaming Addiction a Mental Disease?

Today we cannot imagine living without a computer. We use it to work and to relax. It has become an integral part of our life. But despite the fact that computers make our lives much easier, it may seriously harm our mind.

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No doubt, personal computer lets us easily find new information and communicate with people, who are far from us. But when the time a person spends near the computer exceeds the permissible norms, they become socially isolated and the only thing they are interested in is the virtual world. They become addicted.

Among the kinds of computer addiction the most common is gaming addiction. The statistics says that about 5% of people around the world have gaming addiction.

What is a gaming addiction?

It is normal for people to play as game is a part of our life. For example, you play in your childhood, or you may play basketball or football and many other games. But computer games are different from simple games, because they transfer us in another world or virtual reality.

Gaming addiction is a kind of escape from reality to cyberspace; it is a change in the mental state that is characterized by the presence of obsession and intrusive thoughts. The person who has such an addiction sometimes confuses the cyberspace and the reality. In a nasty form of the addiction the cyberspace completely replaces the reality. The predominant aim of people with such addiction is to play. They even might ignore their physical needs and spend all their time isolated from other people. An addicted person might be so keen on the game process that they might lose the understanding of the flow of time and do not understand where they are and when it is happening. Conscious gradually ceases to distinguish between the real and the virtual. There have been cases when people addicted to the computer games played for several days in a row, without sleep and rest. And in such a case people may even die playing. For example, a girl played a computer game for more than three days and died of dehydration. Or another man played games non-stop for four days and died of cardiac arrest.

The gaming addiction changes the personality of a person who is addicted. A person ceases to live their own life and the virtual existence of their character from the game becomes predominant. Some people even change their appearance to resemble a character from the game.

When a person is addicted, their conscious is changed; the real world is perceived with difficulty, unlike the virtual reality. The cognitive functions of a gamer suffer more: the attention is distracted, thinking slows down, and memory is distorted.

Is gaming addiction a disease?

In 2018 the World Health Organization claimed that they are going to give a status of mental disease to gaming addiction.

They believe that not every person who uses computer may be considered as an addicted one. The main indicators of the addiction are that a person prefers a game to the reality, spends more time playing than doing any other things and that such behavior is observed throughout a year.

Now the World Health Organization made only a draft of the new International Classification of Diseases, so we do not have full information what other symptoms such diagnosis as “gaming addiction” will include.

It is important to mention that scientists, who study the problem of gaming addiction, do not agree whether it is a real addiction and if it can be considered to be a disease or not. For example, the researchers from Cardiff University found out that people, who play computer games a lot, may give up doing it if the conditions of their lives are changed.

Nowadays we cannot live without a computer, it helps us a lot. On the other hand we have to remember that we can easily become addicted to it. Scientists still do not agree if this addiction leads to mental problems or not, but one thing we know for sure is that it changes the conditions of your life: you spend more time playing than communicating with your friends and family. But it should be different, because only people you love may help you to deal with your problems and not to escape from them to the virtual world.

References:

New Scientist – materials
Video Game Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects – PsychGuides.com
TechAddiction – materials

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