In 2007, a news story broke that a 30-year-old male died in the city of Guangzhou in China after playing video games continuously for three days.
In October 2007, an Ohio teen name Daniel Petric shot his parents, killing his mother, after they took away his copy of Halo 3.
Remove the video game references to these stories, and they read like news you typically hear about drugs or other socially destructive behavior. The fact is, gaming and, to some degree, texting are both becoming highly addictive to many of today’s youth. It is a real issue affecting millions of adults and kids alike.
Research varies, but about 8-12% of youth gamers are considered pathologically addicted, with many more admitting that they’ve felt addicted.
Awhile back, a guy named Ryan Van Cleave shared stories about his personal addiction to the multiplayer, online role-playing game “World of Warcraft.” While hooked, Van Cleave admitting playing up to 50 hours a week, “stealing time” from his friendships, family, and teaching job (which he lost).
There is a growing epidemic of video game addiction, and a lot of therapists don’t know how to deal with the issue because it hasn’t been classified as a legitimate disorder. Additionally, common drug treatment strategies of avoiding triggers don’t work for video games because computers and consoles are so pervasive.
Texting, too, has become a major issue among youth today. It started out as a concern for high phone bills each month, but now, it has become a psychological issue. Excessive texting, especially among young girls is getting more attention as an addiction that needs to be treated. With the American Automobile Association finding that 38% of teens admitted to texting while they are behind the wheel, it is more than just social concern; it’s a matter of life or death.
Of course, the issue doesn’t stop at gaming and texting. Addictions to Facebook, online pornography, online gambling, or anything online are social problems we didn’t see coming a decade ago. So, what do we, as a society, do about it? Do marketers have any obligations with this, or is it not our place? I don’t have the answer to that, but it’s something to ponder.
There are resources for people to get some online detox. reSTART, a facility in Fall City, WA, offers help to those who struggle many of these issues. OLGA/OLG-Anon (On-Line Gamers Anonymous) assists in recovery from the problems caused by excessive game playing, whether it be on the computer, video, console, or online.
Here are Signs and Symptoms of Net Addition: http://www.netaddiction.com/