How Prevalent in the US Is Gaming Addiction?
The concept of gaming addiction is fairly new. Over the last 20 years, Internet use has increased dramatically. The result is an increase in the availability of online games and gaming. As technology has developed, statistics linked to the Internet and other types of gaming have also significantly changed. People, particularly children, are spending much more time online engaged in social media and game playing. The monetization of online gaming has also placed pressure on the gaming industry and gamers to play more and compete more.
While there is no official definition of gaming addiction, experts have agreed on several symptoms that, when combined, tend to indicate a person may be addicted to gaming. The common threshold aligns with other impulse control disorders: 1) Excessive participation, 2) Excessive gaming without regard for negative consequences, 3) Excessive gaming that leads to significant impairment of emotional social, work, education or other interpersonal relationships.
Gaming Addiction Stats and Facts
Since there is no official definition of gaming addiction, there are very little official statistics on its prevalence in the US. However, the following list highlights many of the trends that have been uncovered in recent studies.
- An estimated 72% of American households play video games.
- More than 43 million people in the U.S. use the Internet and play video games for more than 20 hours a week.
- Four percent of Americans are considered extreme users and play more than 50 hours per week, and more than 7 hours per day.
- Males play video games more than females — an estimated 40% of males to 7% females.
- About 15% of males between 20 and 40 years of age play video games more than 4 hours per day.
- A 2009 study found that 8.5%, or 1 in 10, gamers in America was addicted.
- The top reasons for gaming are to alter mood, escape, enhance online relationships, boost self-esteem or feel in control.
- The most common personality traits associated with gaming are neuroticism, aggressiveness and sensation seeking.
- Studies have shown a link between violent video games and changes in brain function. that lead to long term effects. MRIs show changes in frontal lobe activity, which controls emotion and aggressive behavior. Gaming affects the prefrontal cortex for pleasure as well. It can raise dopamine levels in the brain by 100%, which is the same increase triggered by sexual activity, cocaine and heroin.
- On average, people addicted to gaming spent over 30 hours per week playing games compared to less than 20 hours per week for those not addicted.
- Kids that are addicted to gaming tend to have poorer grades, poorer relationships with parents and are exposed to more violent games, which then lead to more “normative thoughts of violence and aggression.”
- Gaming addiction increases the symptoms as well as the co-occurrence of other disorders. These can decrease if excessive gaming stops. Common co-occurring disorders are ADHD, depression and OCD.
As technology moves forward and the Internet gets easier to access, excessive gaming has become more prevalent. More research is needed to establish a clearer picture of gaming addiction in America.
http://www.drdouglas.org/drdpdfs/Gentile_Pathological_VG_Use_2009e.pdf – Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth Ages 8 to 18 A National Study
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232708792_Video_Game_Addiction_Past_Present_and_Future – Video Game Addiction: Past, Present and Future
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832462/ – Internet gaming addiction: current perspectives
https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2016/07/can-you-be-addicted-to-the-internet – Can You Be Addicted to the Internet?
http://newsinfo.iu.edu/web/page/normal/20602.html – Violent video games alter brain function in young men
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-plato-can-save-your-life/201608/video-games-stronger-morphine-us-military – Video Games Stronger Than Morphine: U.S. Military
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