Online gaming can be a fun and exciting pastime, but research shows that for one group, it comes with hidden dangers.
It’s no secret that more teenagers than ever are playing online video games, but for some, the pastime has become extremely problematic.
A new study by Macquarie University has found that about three percent of teens may have a diagnosable condition known as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD).
IGD has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 2013.
A study of about 1,000 teenagers found that about 10% had “problems” with video games, and another three percent had signs of IGD.
“Anyone can develop a screen addiction, but my research shows that children are at greater risk if they have problems with impulsive control and if their basic needs—self-esteem, engagement, wellness, and control—are better met. online than offline,” said study author Associate Professor Wayne Warburton.
Earlier this year, the same team published a series of case studies of children aged 11-13 that showed excessive use of video games including Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, Call of Duty or Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and those who struggle with others. digital media such as social networks.
Cases included threats of self-harm and physical abuse of parents when their selection screen was hidden.
Young people who have yet to fully develop willpower and self-control are particularly at risk of falling into harmful behavior patterns.
“Online interaction does not provide the same level of complex mental stimulation and physical contact as communicating with friends in real life,” said Associate Professor Warburton.
“A lot of what we do in games and social media is repetitive and doesn’t require much mental effort.”
He explained that excessive use of video games can lead to brain atrophy, which was found in brain scans of users who actively use the screen.
“The brain is an organ that can be used or lost. It changes every second, and as we work hard, the brain develops new connections to keep up. If this is not disputed, it could be a loss of communication,” he said.
“This would be a problem for people of any age, but it’s especially a concern for the brain, which is still developing.”
Warning signs of IGD include teens spending more and more time in their bedrooms, poor grades in school, lying about how much time they spend playing games, and forgoing the fun and friendships they used to enjoy.
Affected people may become tired and irritable and may even become aggressive or violent if someone tries to come between them and the game.
The Macquarie team is calling on volunteers to take part in a trial of a new treatment program for problem games, developed in collaboration with scientists from the University of Hamburg.
The survey will take place on the Central Coast of New South Wales in mid-October and is free of charge. However, right participants should be able to travel to Wyong and participate in 13-16 sessions.
Originally published as The hidden danger of online games for teenagers is revealed