Has it happened to you? Does it affect someone you know? A friend of a friend? Chances are, you have experienced an online gaming addiction firsthand. Or you know someone who has. The reason for this? Online gaming addiction has become more widespread than ever. It affects countless men, women, and children around the world. (The most vulnerable age groups are pre-teens and teenagers.) Today, an estimated 10-15% of online gamers exhibit signs of addiction and compulsive behaviours. That number is expected to rise – as is the popularity of online gaming. That leaves us with two very important questions. Why is this happening? And what can be done about it?
Online gaming is a unique kind of experience. It allows users to get involved like never before. They are no longer playing a game. They are customizing their experience. Now, users can play with fellow gamers from around the world. They are able to escape into a one of a kind fantasy. That feeling of escape can be pretty tempting. Especially with stress levels on the rise. (An estimated one third of Americans live with extreme stress.)
These days? Online games are constantly changing. There are regular game updates, improved graphics, and a never-ending stream of new challenges. Added levels. Extended storyline. Those aspects make online gaming more exciting and enjoyable than ever before. They also make online gaming pretty addictive.
Another reason that online gaming addiction is on the rise? The in game awards, achievements and ranking statistics. Users can become obsessed with the idea of getting a higher score, beating other gamers, or reaching a more desirable rank status within the game. The atmosphere is competitive. For someone with a strong desire to win – or come out on top – that competitive atmosphere can trigger addiction. They may find themselves playing more and more frequently, paying large amounts of money for game upgrades, looking up strategy techniques online, or even attempting to play online video games professionally.
This addiction should not be taken lightly. Not only is it on the rise…but there are many ways that an online gaming addiction can affect a person. Both in the short term and long term. Each has the ability to hurt the users emotional and physical well being. Some of the most common effects include: chronic fatigue, difficulty sleeping, eyestrain, carpal tunnel, dietary issues (not taking time to eat or drink), difficulty socializing (missing out on social events, the loss of friendships, and feelings of isolation), financial problems, and even loss of employment. Users may experience a few or many of those effects. It varies based on a number of factors, such as age.
Online gaming addictions are serious. They have the potential to destroy relationships, career aspirations, and more. This is why they require proper treatment and care. Thankfully there are now support groups available, like Online Gamers Anonymous, to help users overcome the addiction. There is no doubt about it: this issue is on the rise. However, addiction groups make it possible for users to take back control, live fully, and experience the wonders of online gaming in moderation.