Studies: video game addiction linked to troubled behavior

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U.S. (WIAT) — The World Health Organization has officially included Video Game Addiction as an official disorder. 

Recent studies outline connections between too much gaming and troubling behavior. Local gamers and experts are aware of the issues and are working to combat it.

Good Games UAB, a local university organization, is promoting a positive gaming community to showcase the good side of a culture that these students feel often gets a bad reputation.

“We help those that want to compete in competitive gaming get to where they are, as well as, just build a community around it,” Good Games UAB President Andrew Sluss said.

The gamers in the organization are not worried about becoming addicted to gaming anymore than they are worried about becoming addicted to anything. As with anything, they seek moderation. Local child expert Dr. Vivial Friedman says this is a key she has been studying for years.

“It’s much harder to monitor amount than just cut it off,” Friedman said. “You know I think it’s just there. And it’s difficult for parents to monitor everything and negotiate everything. The easiest thing is to just have a schedule, you may have one hour a day of game time.”

For professional gamers, it’s a lifestyle. Many hours a day spent competing, often in tournaments held online. Some worry the affects of too much gaming — especially after a troubled gamer opened fire on fellow players at a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. this year. A study released Wednesday by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found a rise in depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior among people who played games for many hours a day.

Dr. Rebecca Britt studies video gaming at the University of Alabama, and believes game play might be more of a positive than a negative. 

“You can take a game and you can learn something from it, or you can play it and give it a go. You can learn something from it. You don’t have to play 10 hours a day, but you can still play something and derive some learning from it and derive some fun from it and it’s not going to necessarily harm you,” Britt said.

Nationally, video gaming has become big business. There are even reports that the industry could be worth well-over $100 billion this year. And for these students, it is a way of life that they say is no different from any other team sport.

For these students, gaming is as much a way of life as playing football, or being in the band. For them, it really is family. 

Dr. Friedman and Dr. Britt both agree that the best way to prevent gaming addiction is to moderate use. That is what Good Gaming UAB is working to further every day. 

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