• Question: Do you think video games can be an addiction?

    Asked by Anna to Chris on 13 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Chris Fullwood

      Chris Fullwood answered on 13 Jun 2019:

      Hi Anna, that’s a really interesting question. I think we have the potential to become addicted to video games because they are enjoyable and that pleasurable feeling will provide positive reinforcement to repeat the behaviour. I think this could be extended to anything pleasurable though, e.g. shopping, texting, watching Netflix, eating etc. For me, these are all behavioural addictions and the problem I have currently is that video games seem to be getting a lot of attention in the media, for example the World Health Organisation recently classified it as an area of concern for young people. The problem with singling out a specific activity like video gaming is that it may lead to ordinary, everyday behaviours becoming stigmatised which might make some parents too restrictive because they are worried, but we also know that video games can be incredibly rewarding, sociable and in some cases even good for intellectual growth. The same story has happened over and over again in our recent history, for example there were concerns about addiction to books, radio, television etc. This is not to say that playing video games excessively can’t have negative consequences, I’m just not sure we should be focusing exclusively on this and need to consider the wider implications of engaging with all forms of technology