Video gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States today. Research firm, Newzoo has forecasted total video gaming revenue worth $24.05 billion for 2015, with mobile games generating $7.2 billion and console games representing $11.1 billion. While these figures reveal the gaming industry’s major role in the economy, excessive use of video games has an alarming impact on young minds. Several research studies have found signs of depression and violence among adolescents exposed to violent video games.
According to the research firm ChildrenNow, a majority of video games include violence, and that about half of the violent incidents would result in serious injuries or death in the “real” world. Another research study conducted by The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 2014 reveals that children who play violent video games for more than two hours a day are at a greater risk of depression.
Grand Theft Auto, Dead Space 2, Mortal Kombat are among the most violent video games teenagers are addicted to. These video games glorify violence, immoral behavior and last but not the least, the use of guns – a grave issue in the United States. In fact, as part of the gun control measures in 2013, President Obama directed the Congress for $10 million to fund a study by the Centers for Disease Control on the impact of video games and media images.
How are violent video games associated with the increasing symptoms of depression and violence among teenagers? Various studies indicate that different parts of children’s brains are activated when they play video games. Adolescent minds are very different from adult minds. Their mind is raw and impressionable, and is wired to participate in risky, unpredictable, and violent behavior. Scientifically speaking, when you play a video game, the brain releases excessive dopamine that causes short-term pleasure. And as there is an excess of dopamine, the brain thus produces less of this vital neurotransmitter.
Violent games can change the thinking patterns of impressionable children. Soon, they begin to accept violence and immoral behavior as a norm. They also externalize their anxiety by verbally or physically abusing the people around them.
For many children, video games offer an escape from the real world. This often leads to social isolation, loneliness and delusionary thinking in the long run, which obviously has adverse effects on a child’s psychological functioning.
What can parents do to prevent their kids from becoming a video gaming junkie? For starters, they should educate their children about the hazards of playing brutal video games. Many video games have ratings on them, so check them to see if it is appropriate for your child.
Addiction to violent video games is real. If your child is exhibiting acts of violence, aggression or depression, please get help. Contact STAR Guides Wilderness rehab treatment facility now.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.