Video Gaming a True Addiction or Lack of Life Balance?: Dr. Linda Explains How to Break the Cycle of Gaming
- Is video gaming a true addiction?
That is a question being debatedin the medical community,
and here to discuss itwith us is psychologist
and bestselling author Dr. Linda Mintle.
- Good to be here.
- Yeah, thanks for joining us.
Well, first of all, you say
the InternationalClassification of Disease
is now listing video gameaddiction as a real disorder,
but not everybody in themental health field agrees.
- So, that, what you just mentioned,
is called for short the ICD-9is a worldwide classification
that mental healthprofessionals bill on and use,
and it goes hand in handtypically with something
called the Diagnosticand Statistical Manual.
People may have heard ofthat as the DSM, the DSM-5,
which is currently what we're using.
The DSM-5 that we use for diagnoses here
in the United States does not classify
internet gaming as an addiction.
It's in the back of the manual
as a condition that needs more study.
Now, the international versionhas just updated its manual,
and it did put it as aclassification of an addiction.
So there's a little bit of controversy at,
does this meet the, thereally, the full qualification
for an addictive disorder?
Not everybody's settled.
- Well, tell us the storythat you wrote on your blog
about a gamer that actually died.
- Yeah, I saw a wholelot of stories like this.
I just have to tell you, Mark,
when I was looking, thiswas a 23-year-old man
who was playing videogames for hours and hours
in an internet cafe in Taiwan.
And there were 30 gamersaround him playing,
and he died.
He had a heart attack.
He had problems.
He had a heart conditionprior to this, but the sitting
and all the things, thefatigue, all of this
probably played a role inthis, and for nine hours,
he sat there dead, andnobody around him noticed it.
- [Mark] Wow.
- Isn't that wild?
- [Mark] Yes.
- And there's just storyafter story like that,
because of the preoccupationand the all-consuming
power that some of thesegames have on some people.
- Well, even if technically,it's not listed as an addiction
by one organization, aninternational organization,
doesn't mean it's a problem.
I mean, the last storyyou just shared with us
shows that, right?
So you really wanna look atthis, and what they decided
is that they said if youhave a problem with this,
it has to be at least over a year's time,
and then you have to be very,very preoccupied with gaming.
So it has to take precedenceover everything else
that you're, you're doing,it's getting in the way,
and then the second criteria
is that it has to havenegative consequences.
So, it has to be like you wanna play more,
it's interfering, and thenthat's the third consequence,
is that it's somehow causingyou personal distress,
and it's impairing your life.
It can be in any domain.
Maybe you're leaving work early to play,
or you're having problemsin your family life
because you're so preoccupied.
So, these are some of thecriteria that we often see
in addiction, certainlydistress and impairment,
preoccupation, almost anobsessive compulsive component
to it, and that's one of thereason why they're saying
seems to be fitting morethat type of addiction.
- Well, a lot of youngerpeople are involved
in this type of gaming.
What advice do you have forparents in dealing with this?
- It's like so much of the digital media.
You really have to payattention to the number of hours
that your children are on this,
and one of the things we know,
there are a few positivebenefits for gaming.
So we know that there'shand-eye coordination.
There's some enhanced memory.
There's some different thingsthat we do get benefit from.
But there's a lot ofdownsides to this in terms of,
one of the biggest onesis you're sedentary,
and we have a childhood obesity problem.
We need to get kids up and moving
and off of digital screens.
And so, if you see thatit's beginning to interfere
in any way with your child's life,
just limit the amountof time, and certainly,
look at the games they're playing,
because some of these games are more,
they have these rewards built into 'em,
and so they're a little bit more addicting
that you keep working for the reward,
and that hits a part of thebrain that is very similar
to other addictions, wherethere's a reward pathway
that gets activated.
So some games might be moreaddicting than others, too.
- Like a hook, a hookthere that's built in.
- Yes, there's a hook, right.
- To keep the people playing.
- Yeah, just like your Netflix.
I don't know if younotice, but then it's like,
next, next, and you wannakeep pushing the button.
- And there are rewards thatare built in that keep you
going for more, and it'shitting those dopamine centers
in the brain, which arethe rewards centers.
- Well, this is not justlimited to video games.
I mean, we're talkingabout phones, tablets,
even old-fashioned TV, right?
So we have to just besensible, and one of the things
that, that people arelooking at is, is this really
an addiction, or is ita life balance problem?
And so, if you tend to think,
no, anything can be done to the excess.
I mean, you could becompulsively shopping.
You could be compulsively eating.
You could do other things to an excess.
So, whatever it turns outto be, there still is a need
to have life balance, and so you have
to pay attention to the whole person,
your physical body, youremotional wellbeing,
your relationships, andcertainly your spiritual life,
which doesn't take you to a lot of places
in a lot of the gaming andsome of the digital stuff.
Now, it can be used for good,
and we can use certainapps and things to do
contemplative prayer andmeditation, but again,
we wanna look at our whole life balance,
and are we really teachingour kids to be in balance?
Are we doing that andmodeling that as parents?
- And you're a Christian,
and a relationship with Jesus Christ
can definitely help inthese areas, correct?
- It can, and I think thewhole idea that we have
the power to overcome becauseof the Holy Spirit in us,
and certainly abstinence
is one of the ways thatwe change the brain.
So, sometimes, if thereis an addictive process
going in the brain, you haveto remain abstinent with it
in order for the brainto rewire and extinguish
those pathways so that you don't have
that compulsive need to play anymore.
So it's a little morecomplicated, but certainly praying
and asking the Holy Spiritto give you what you need,
flee from temptation is whatthe Bible tells us to do.
- [Mark] Mmhmm, resist it, yeah.
- So don't just sit there,you know, in a video game
internet cafe and think, I'mnot gonna do this forever.
Maybe get yourself outof there, and then ask
for the Holy Spirit to give you the power
to put some balance into your life.
All right, well, Dr. LindaMintle, thanks for your time.
- If we could take your microphone off.
- [Mark] That's great, that's great.
- [Linda] Oh, did it start coming off?
Yeah that's good stuff.
You asked good questions.