Video Games Linked to Depression
Parents are already worried about the habit-forming and addictive impact of video games on their kids. Now, they have more on their plate. Recent researches reveal that heavy gamers may become depressed.
Heavy Gaming is Harmful
Two recent research projects studied teenagers’ gaming habits and their effect on mental health. In one study, published recently in Pediatrics journal, 3,000 adolescent students in Singapore were monitored. It found that kids who were less social and more impulsive played video games for longer hours. These kids played video games for about 31 hours per week, compared to 19 hours by normal students. The heavy gamers were more vulnerable to social phobias, anxiety and depression. Their gaming habit was also likely to affect their relationship with parents, as well as school grades.
Another research project studied Chinese teenagers aged between 13 and 18. It found that heavy Internet users were more likely to get depressed. These kids were also heavy gamers.
Video Game Makers Attack
Not surprisingly, the video game makers’ lobby has attacked the findings. They dispute whether gaming is indeed addictive. Entertainment Software Association, a lobbying front for video game makers, has challenged a California state law that prohibits selling violent video games to kids. This lobby has also questioned previous studies on the effects of video games.
Psychology experts say young people may develop mental problems due to pathological gaming. Heavy gamers are more likely to be socially inept, less empathetic and more impulsive. The experts blame excessive video gaming for the youngsters’ bad grades and deteriorating relationship with parents. However, when heavy gamers stopped playing, their depression symptoms improved.
A Cyclical Effect
Psychology experts aver that teenagers take recourse to video games to escape from problems in the first place. But, excessive gaming only exacerbates their isolation and depression. The experts say that parents ought to control their kids’ gaming time. Many gaming industry critics also agree with this point. Even the gaming lobby says that video games should be part of an all-round healthy lifestyle for kids, that includes schoolwork, reading and sports.
Heavy Gamers Need Help
Teenagers addicted to video games definitely need psychological help to overcome their problems. And, their gaming habit cannot be ignored by psychologists. So, if your kid seems to be playing video games a lot, take him/her aside and inquire whether they are facing any problems.