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The quest to stop game addiction

Tyler Bean, Conner Lee and Dylan Olson have a conversation after school. Choosing gaming over interation with friends is an early warning sign of gaming addiction.

Many have experienced the devastating effects of losing a loved one to mental or behavioral disorders that could not be understood, but to video games? With the recent spotlight that has been shown upon video game addiction, is gaming to become the "crack epidemic" for millennial youth?

For a definition of computer and video game addiction ones need to look no further than the National Institute of Media and the Family.

"When time spent on the computer, playing video games or cruising the Internet reaches a point that it harms a child's or adults family and social relationships or disrupts school or work life, that person may be caught in the cycle of addiction," explains NIMF literature. "Like other addictions, the computer or video game has replaced friends and family as the source of a person's emotional life. Increasingly, to feel good, the addicted person spends more time playing video games or searching the Internet. Time away from the computer or game causes moodiness or withdrawal."

The NIMF warns that when a person spends up to 10 hours a day or more rearranging or sending files, playing games, surfing the net, visiting chatrooms, instant messaging and reading emails, that can easily reach up to seventy to eighty hours a week online with the computer. Major social, school or work disruptions will result.

"I have seen several of my friends just disappear," said a Carbon High senior. "It was like the video game just sucked them in."

In severe cases, an online or in game "fantasy world" has replaced a person's real life. The virtual reality of the computer or game is more inviting than the everyday world of family, school or work. With increased access to pornography on the Internet and in games, this fantasy world may be highly sexual, according to the institute.

Sony's PS3 is one of the most popular gaming consoles in the world.

As of June 2007 the American Psychological Association had not yet classified video game addiction in the DSM IV, it is suggested that the symptoms of the disease would be similar to that of other psychological addictions such as compulsive gambling.

Wikipedia's online encyclopedia, which allows content to be posted by individuals around the world, reports that the AMA would classify the addiction as an impulse control disorder possibly displaying the following diagnostic criteria.

•Persistent thoughts of the activity or performance of the activity. (Preoccupation)

•Need for increased time spent on the activity to achieve satisfaction or diminished reward for the same amount of time spent on the activity. (Tolerance)

•Inability to control, stop or diminish the behavior. (Loss of control)

•Restlessness or irritability when prevented from parking in the activity. (Withdrawal)

•Lying to friends or family about extent of involvement with activity. (Continuance despite adverse consequences)

Nintendo's new Wii platform is also very popular with young gamers.

•Committing illegal acts to sustain activity. (Continuance despite adverse consequences)

•Relying on others to finance activity. (Continuance despite adverse consequences)

While there is still no formal data concerning the prevalence of video game addiction some countries have responded to the problem by opening treatment centers.

The Chinese government operates several clinics to treat those addicted to online games, chatting and web surfing. Treatment for patients, most of whom have been forced to attend by parents or government officials, include various forms of pain, or uneasiness.

According to the online encyclopedia, China also introduced an anti-online gaming addiction system in 2005 aimed at reducing in-game rewards after three hours of play for underage individuals, reports however indicate that young gamers are finding ways to circumvent the system.

In the most extreme of cases, there have been three well-documented deaths caused directly by exhaustion from playing games for long periods. In South Korea, Lee Seung Seop died after playing Starcraft for over 50 hours.

Early identifiers of this addiction in children include:

•Computer or video game use characterized by intense feelings of pleasure and guilt.

•Obsessing and pre-occupied about being on the computer, even when not connected.

Brianna Blackham and Morgan Crove exhibiting the lost art of conversation.

•Hours playing video games or on the computer increasing, seriously disrupting family, social or even work life.

•Lying about computer or video game use.

•Experiencing feelings of withdrawal, anger or depression when not on the computer or involved with their video game.

•Choosing to use the computer or play video games rather than seeing friends.

•Dropping out of other social groups.

•Irritable when not playing a video game or on the computer.

For those wanting to test their possible addiction to video games or the computer quizzes are available online, (don't mind the irony,) at the Center for Online Gaming.

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