Back in 1991, when I was 17 years old, I had one of the largest collections of computer games in town, and was the assistant system operator for Dream BBS, the third most popular bulletin board …
Back in 1991, when I was 17 years old, I had one of the largest collections of computer games in town, and was the assistant system operator for Dream BBS, the third most popular bulletin board system in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro.
We used to talk about the latest trends in gaming, among other things, and let me tell you ... most of my friends back then played a lot of video games.
Despite the fact that many were socially impaired and experienced extreme fatigue, today many of us are corporate leaders, investment bankers, law partners, prominent physicians and college professors.
Did playing video games impair our lives when we were growing up? Well, yeah.
Doing anything in excess isn’t good. Many of us spent way too many hours in front of our computers playing and taking about video games, I must add. Was playing games so detrimental to my life that it impaired my having a successful career? No, but it delayed the beginning of my professional career.
Why am I saying all of this? Well, because the World Health Organization has recognized a brand-new health issue worth publicizing, and guess what it is called?
You may or may not know this, so let me reveal this to you. Dr. A didn’t just play video games as a teenager. His doctoral dissertation is on video game-making among gifted students in small rural towns. I know a little bit about both the culture of playing and making video games.
Kids like playing video games, but they love making them. Can these activities be addictive? Yes.
I don’t deny that some elements of addiction are part of the video game culture, and I agree with WHO that video games, when played without control, may lead to a mental disorder. We just have to be careful not to assume that disorders can’t be reversed if more understanding is gained.
Let’s take an example from the Victorian era. During that time, women reading novels was considered to be a disorder, and if it was felt they were reading excessively, family members had the option to put them in an asylum.
By disorder standards back then, women shouldn’t read too many novels!
Ladies of Cleveland, Tennessee, do you read a lot of novels today? I am glad my wife wasn’t born in this time period. She reads more novels than a scholar of literature. In fact, it amazes me that she isn’t a Ph.D.
I get uncomfortable with the word "disorder," but I do agree that too much video game-playing can definitely lead to a serious mental health issue.
With things being fair, let me say this: Sometimes things are only a problem in society and are considered to be a disorder if judged socially unacceptable. What happens if, in the future, the unacceptable becomes acceptable? We see women literarians thinking critically and contributing to society! Is this a bad thing? No, it is a wonderful thing!
OK, you know me. I am not a person who holds an extreme view about anything, especially technology. We have to be fair in order to be reasonable.
Playing video games has both positives and negatives, but I honestly don’t think we should take this warning from WHO lightly.
Playing video games can help people with coordination issues, problem-solving and with releasing tension. In fact, catharsis, or the process of releasing strong or repressed emotions, is a well-known area of investigation within media violence research. However, playing video games excessively can result in poor sleep habits and academic performance, fatigue, eye strain, interpersonal communication problems, and much more.
I am not saying that playing games occasionally, and in moderation, is bad. But the moment that kids are constantly playing video games to a point that they don’t do anything else with their lives, then that's when I have a problem with it.
Be careful with allowing your kids to play video games nonstop. It can severely impair children from succeeding in life, and can turn into a mental disorder.
(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at luiscalmeida.info).
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