Is playing games bad for our mental health by Rory Craig
Video games have been widely discussed by a lot of people lately. They have played a part in children and adults lives alike and are becoming more and more popular every year. One issue that has become more well known is that the population is becoming glued to their screens; addicted.
In fact, so many people have become attached to Fortnite, the World Health Organization have introduced a gaming disorder to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Some gamers and scientists alike think that this is ridiculous and that it is almost stupid to put something like this in the ICD. One question that society are starting to ask, is playing games bad for our mental health?
Addiction to games can be closely related to issues like addictions to drugs, gambling and alcohol. This is because in all these scenarios the person focuses or spends almost all their time on these acts. This means there is also an increased chance of getting a mental illness, like depression or anxiety, which can occur in a variety of different circumstances. According to researchers from Nottingham Trent University, gaming addiction causes “16 percent of issues related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and physical symptoms”. In this case, you can get them by distorting your eating and sleeping habits by playing games late, or you play a game so much, that you stop communicating with people almost totally. The reason your are more likely to get depression or anxiety is because you stop socialising with people face to face. This can make you anti-social, meaning you can become lonely, therefore leading to depression or anxiety.
Despite this, gaming disorder is incredibly rare that only happens to 10% of adult gamers. This shows a big difference in frequency compared to something like alcohol addiction, which only takes place in about 7% of english adults. People say that Alcohol addiction has much more of a negative effect on society. This is because people can cause crime, car crashes and assault. Also, to get Gaming Disorder, you generally have to be interested in video games, which makes it even rarer.
According to a BBC article, video games ” demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour”, meaning if you play violent games, you are more likely to be a violent person. Games like CS:GO (Counter Strike Global Offensive) and Call of Duty are both age rated a sixteen and an eighteen, but have huge amounts of players under the age limit and doing underage gambling ingame, according to the UK Gambling Association. These are both shooting games that require slaughtering the other players, something that most children shouldn’t be subject to. Both of these games also have an open “voice chat”, where random strangers can say anything they want to you and others. This means that children can be exposed to an assortment of different abuse and can also be molested. We also use words that we wouldn’t use on a daily basis. This can also lead to aggressive behavior, online, and in the real world.
Although games like this are extreme and can be used by game developers to target children, there are things you can do in the game settings to make more age appropriate. For example, in CS:GO, there is an option in the settings that allows you to remove all blood and gore in the game. This shows that the game developers care about the audience that they are attracting. This unarguably makes the game more suitable than the same game without the settings being used.
It is also shown in an article from The Guardian that 1st person shooters (FPS) are the best for things such as cognitive enhancement, which means that you are able to think of things faster. As well as cognitive enhancement, First Person Shooters can “improve spatial processing, multitasking, attention control and perseverance”. Spatial processing is your hearing abilities (being able to know where sounds are coming from) and attentional control is what you pay attention to (how much you listen). These kind of games also require good teamwork and sometimes leadership (if you have to lead your team to victory for example), as well as communicating with people you’ll never meet and learn to trust them and support.
I think scientists and newspapers have only written about the downsides of gaming while there are many positive aspects that could be added that are seemingly chosen to be ignored. I think that the positive effects of gaming outweigh the negative effects, though I think that the the negative effects should certainly be taken into consideration. I also think that society should accept the fact that people are always going to play games, if it’s to have fun with your friends. Or to forget about all your problems.