How Do Video Games Affect Motivation, Leading, Potentially to the need for Video Game Addiction Treatment?
Video games may distort a person’s perception of effort, achievement, reward, progress and growth. While the extent of this impact on people could vary, prolonged exposure certainly has the potential to exacerbate these effects (up to 4% of all gamers become addicts, according to a conservative estimate by the World Health Organization last year). This is because video games are created to keep a player’s attention through sustained, instant gratification. There will always be another level to overcome, better armor to find, more items to collect, a score or leaderboard position to beat, etc. At all times throughout the game, there will be multiple achievements and an intertwining, low-effort/high reward dynamic that is in no way reflective of principles of achievement in the real world.
Can Video Games Affect My Child’s Brain, Making Him or Her Vulnerable to Video Game Addiction and the Need for Treatment?
Our brains are constantly changing to our environment, adapting so that it can most optimally operate. The way that the brain changes refers to a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, the ability to change neural structures as a result of learning and experience. Because of the brain’s ability to adapt, it is possible that video games can condition a mind to learn that growth and progress are instantaneous, sapping the motivation and energy to engage in long-term planning and delayed gratification. If the brain learns that instant gratification through video games satisfy its need for reward, how can energy for sustained effort through long-term, meaningful pursuits ever become realized?
What can I do? When Do I Need to Seek Treatment for Video Game Addiction?
Internet Gaming Addiction is a “pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences (World Health Organization, 2018).” Like other addictions, significant impairment in educational/occupational pursuits, family involvement, and social/personal functioning across a 12-month span needs to be observed for a diagnosis to be rendered.
If you or a loved one appears to be engaged in chronic gaming, affecting functioning and taking away from the motivation to engage meaningfully in life, treatment may be necessary in order to restore balance, health, and a real sense of growth, reward, and accomplishment.
World Health Organization: Gaming Disorder. (2018, September 14). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/