Video Games: The New American Addiction?


Photo from Think Tank Learning.

Aidan Stilich, Opinion and Humor Editor

I am under no circumstances an expert on video games. I didn’t play them in middle or elementary school, and I don’t play them now.  It might be safe to say that I just don’t get them, and I have a bias against them. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they desensitize people to gun violence and violence against women, but that’s another article entirely. However, despite my personal bias, I feel that it is pretty easy to see that most Americans (specifically youths) are spending hour after hour playing video games.  Instead of going to movie drive-ins and arcades, teens are now spending their time gaming.

According to Polygon, “63 percent of U.S. households surveyed include at least one frequent gamer.” In addition to this, “Online gamers spend 6.5 hours a week on average playing with others.” The fact that 63 percent of households spend a ⅓ of a day playing video games might be shocking, but  look at the world around you. You see people in trains, restaurants, and even the study hall with their faces buried in a laptop or phone. However, according to CNN, this obscene amount video game usage might be more of a danger than once previously thought.

This amount of video game playing can in fact, lead to addiction. CNN states, “roughly 8.5% percent of children who play video games in the United States are addicted.” What constitutes a gaming addiction? Quite a few factors according to Science Daily. They state that pathological gamers “played video games 24 hours per week.” 24 hours a week! Even if we forget the fact that this is an obscene amount of time to spend on a game, we need to consider the health consequences. The Washington Post explores these health effect when they follow Robyn, a video game addict. They state, “The muscles in his back and neck felt tense and tight. His eyes would sometimes twitch. Lines of dialogue from the games would pop into his mind unbidden. At school, the class dismissal bell occasionally sounded just like the two-tone chime that signaled a new friend joining a game online a sort of auditory hallucination.” This can lead to attention problems in school, which leads to lower test score, which sets the child up for a life of academic frustration. Not to mention that it can lead to all sorts of physical problems. According to Livestrong  (the fact that video game addiction has its own Livestrong page is in itself ridiculous)  video game addiction can cause tendonitis, obesity, carpal tunnel, eye strain, and neck problems.

From this, it is not hard to see that video games do more harm than good. They affect children’s focus, mood, and even have physical consequences (such as carpal tunnel and scoliosis). Hopefully we realize that these games are bad for public health, right? Wrong. According to Forbes, The city of Arlington, Texas, just approved plans to build  “100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art esports stadium.” Video games pose a serious health risk, and it is lunacy to say that they are sports. A Sports is anything meant to help people get off the coach, and help them get healthier. Video games are the complete opposite. They encourage lethargic lifestyles, and can lead to a plethora of behavioral and physical problems.

I don’t want to rail against anyone who enjoys play video games. They are fun, colorful, and a stress reliever for some people. I just urge you to consider the effects that they might have on the American populous.