Video Game Awareness- Op Ed

Written by Mark S

Placentia, C.A. (October 11, 2021)

Video games are a popular form of entertainment for adolescents for all ages. They have so much to offer, whether it be a way to relax after a stressful day or play with friends online. They are played by many, but how do these video games affect a person’s mental health and why do people play them? Video games are extremely popular, played by millions around the world. Through one simple click, people are transported into various settings, allowing audiences the opportunity to have different experiences, something quite unique and different from their ordinary life. 

Video games help people deal with escapism. Escapism is a term defined as someone who seeks entertainment to distract themselves from the reality of life. Reality is a stressful environment. Everyone in the world experiences stress in their lives. Stress comes in many different forms like social interactions, daily responsibilities, and challenging decisions that must be made. Games are a solution to this problem and many people turn to it in hopes of relieving stress or simply to have a good time. Because it helps to distract people, video games often help with treating disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and posttraumatic stress disorder  (PTSD). Video games also provide people with greater autonomy or more independence. An important aspect of games is the free choices that’s involved with it. In games, you must make decisions for the best possible outcome. Open world games such as Genshin Impact is one example of where freedom and choices are abundant. Since many people do not have much independence or significant control over their lives, a game like Genshin Impact would appeal to these kinds of people. Video games also provide social interactions for those who share the same passion of a game and could lead to better mental health.

That being said, games are often problematic because of how addicting they are. When people play games, their brains produce dopamine. Dopamine, put simply, is what allows people to feel things such as satisfaction and pleasure. If that steady supply of dopamine is suddenly stopped, it would lower people’s concentration and would be difficult to focus on anything else such as doing homework for school.  The stimulation that comes when playing video games would affect motivation levels as well. Through games, people can have social interactions, feel adventurous, excited, and victorious at the same time. What many people would normally strive for in the real world, could now be accomplished in a game, which would not be ideal for someone’s mental or physical health. Long periods of gaming can lead to eye strain, a common health issue for people who intensively play video games. Caused by staring at a screen for long periods of time, effects could include irritation around the eye, headaches, and blurry vision. Whether it is friends or family, relationships are an important part of someone’s life. Relationships need to be maintained. If someone spends the majority of their time playing games, relationships will fall apart, as there is not enough time for them. Poor grades are also a consequence of being addicted to video games. Social isolation or disconnection is also a result of game addiction and is not good for mental health and will only lead to loneliness. This could cause depression and might lead them to turn to substance abuse or other poor habits.

Video games have both positive and negative effects on health. Most negative effects of video games stem from the excessive time playing. Be sure to play in moderation and if playing for long periods of time, make sure to take breaks.

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