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Does Gaming Affect a Teenager’s Mental Health?

For the past two decades, video games have greatly swooped into the lives of teenagers and have been growing dramatically without pause. From game consoles, computers, and smartphones, teenagers are spending most of their time playing video games.

In fact, playing video games has become a daily routine for these teenagers. One can even say that it has become an addiction to teenagers, making them feel anxious or even depressed when their gaming privileges are taken away.

Video Games and Teenagers

The World Health Organization has announced that addiction to video gaming has become a prime factor in the mental health of teens. Is it really becoming a mental disorder? How does video gaming affect the mental well-being of teenagers?

Playing video games is extremely engrossing.  But how do you get addicted to it?  Simply put, it is really designed to be addictive using behavioral psychology that will get you hooked.  When you are playing a certain game, the interaction affects your brain nerves, making it produce a high amount of dopamine which is the same when you are taking abusive substances. When that nerve is overexposed to the high level of dopamine, your brain structure will change. This will cause addiction.

A lot of experts say that it is the exposure that makes it addictive and causes the teenager to be reclusive, anti-social, and apathetic but they haven’t realized that perhaps there is an underlying mental disturbance that forces teenagers to be absorbed in the virtual reality world. The truth is, anything that is too much is really not good. These teenagers would normally go about their daily routine of study, play, house, and friends.  Not until video games became a hobby that it distracts everything.

How Video Gaming Affects Mental Health

Video gaming can affect mental health in two ways. According to research, video games that are done and/or played moderately do not affect mental health negatively. But it in fact has a positive effect like an improvement of cognitive abilities including an increase of visual-spatial cognition, attention, and rotation and helps individuals overcome cognitive limitations. Also, it enhances the teenager’s ability to solve problems since most of these games are presented in a puzzle situation connected to reality. Moreover, it also brings about positive aggression, helping behaviors and pro-social behavior. This will happen if the teenager’s usage and time are monitored and every behavior they act on are being monitored by parents and teachers.

The negative effects of video gaming are caused by excessive exposure to video games and unmonitored teenage behavior. We cannot deny the fact that adolescence is a crucial part of your child’s growing up years. When they are left unattended to their needs and proper attention and understanding is not given to them, they have the tendency to immerse themselves in the virtual world where they can be who they want to be to feel appreciated and special. Being immersed in the virtual world gives them an instant gratification that causes addiction. When a teenager gets addicted to video gaming, he can feel anxiety, irritability, sadness, and guilt when it is taken away from them. He will also become reclusive and lose interest in other activities. It has also been said that a teenager who is engaged in excessive exposure to video gaming can become impulsive and sometimes depressed. Apart from that, addiction to video gaming can make the teenager find trouble in fitting in a crowd or group of peers.

In conclusion, the World Health Organization recognizes that video gaming, when done excessively, can create a mental effect on the teenager and its classification will be recognized based on a set of symptoms being shown by the teenager. Health care professionals alike can now easily recognize the symptoms of the disorder.  They are encouraged by WHO to prioritize diagnostics and treatments to the affected ones.

However, parents are also encouraged to have a 100% involvement in monitoring their kids, especially when they realize that their child has become addicted to playing video games. Fact is, it all starts within the family. You can take the first step to making sure that your children are not suffering from any mental health issues. Be observant, choose to actively become a part of their life, and make sure that the line of communication is always open so that your teenage kids will feel that they have a safe space at home where they can be heard and understood.

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