There must be something in the water. The summer isn’t even over yet and it’s as if the world has collectively agreed to lose their shit at the same time. The Activision Blizzard scandal is still unfolding, and now a new studio Raccoon Logic is under fire for its lack of diversity (more on this later). Just a few days ago a UK newspaper named The Telegraph recently found itself in hot water because of their grossly misinformed piece about videogame” addiction”.

The Telegraph published an article titled “Spiritual Opium: could gaming ruin a generation?” Talk about being cheeky. Interestingly, The Telegraph decided to speak with a fiction author who actually wrote a book about a gamer and a celebrity YouTuber that is being accused of killing… get this, an “eminent anti-gaming psychiatrist! The author, Abi Silver, stated in the article that her son became obsessed with Fortnite. To be fair, Fortnite became wildly popular seemingly overnight especially with the dance moves they have your avatar do…some of those were stolen through legal loopholes – which isn’t the point right now!

Silver went on to say this: “I was shocked, and indignant, that there was something out there, unregulated and freely available to our kids, which was considered highly dangerous but nobody was doing anything about it. It was like someone was coming into my son’s bedroom at night and injecting him with an addictive drug.” Back in 2018, WHO (World Health Organization) declared “gaming addiction” as a mental health condition, according to BBC. In the report, Dr. Richard Graham, lead tech addiction specialist at Nightingale Hospital in London agrees with WHO’s decision to include this in their updated ICD (International Classification of Diseases). At the time of this report, he went on record to say “It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialized services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously…It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers”.

A researcher named Killian Mullan said: “People think that children are addicted to technology and in front of these screens 24/7, to the exclusion of other activities – and we now know that is not the case…Our findings show that technology is being used with and in some cases perhaps to support other activities, like homework for instance, and not pushing them out,” Mullan continues, “Just like we adults do, children spread their digital tech use throughout the day, while doing other things.” A more recent and extensive study was conducted over a six-year period and was published May 13, 2020, by Sarah M. Coyne from the American Psychological Association. In this study, Sarah states that pathological videogame play isn’t something that can be used as a broad diagnosis. Pathological gaming is when said activity becomes dysfunctional, harming the individual’s social, occupational, family, school, and psychological functioning, much like gambling.

The study states that while there are pathological gaming cases, it’s prevalent in a small minority, not the majority. The study was done with individuals with varying and similar financial circumstances, further debunking the stereotype of gamers living in their mother’s basements and not being productive or being able to support themselves financially due to this disorder. Sarah also states the following:

Though this individual may exist, this does not appear to be the norm, as pathological users of video game appears to be just as financially stable and moving forward as nonpathological users, at least in their early 20s. This also supports past research that has suggested that the financial instability characteristic associated with gambling disorders does not hold true for pathological gaming tendencies and should not be included in measures of pathological gaming.

Another factor of this increase in gaming activity can be attributed to the ongoing pandemic. According to Statista, gaming activity has a total increase of 63%. Part of this is due to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo. It also states like-for-like game sales also went up by 44%, suggesting that many people had turned to video games to keep them entertained and keep their sanity through the crisis.

I’m not saying that people with a disorder don’t exist, but that it’s not the majority of people like some articles that don’t extensive research on the subject tend to report. I would recommend that everyone reading this simply be a bit more active, given the current circumstances. Take breaks whenever possible, and try to bask in the sun and get some fresh air. I know from personal experience that gaming can be a great way to escape from everything that’s been going on in the world, but that’s a temporary solution and not a permanent one. Speaking from personal experience, I noticed my mental health has improved after I started to venture back outside (while being safe) and took up another hobby.

In conjunction with gaming and going for walks I’ve also decided to try my hand at photography, and I also started to read more. Whether it be more online articles or books, there’s always something that I’m doing besides gaming. Finding the right therapist can also help with anxiety and depression – for this, I’d look into Better Help or see which therapists are in your healthcare network. You can also click here for some tips on how to cope with stress and if you haven’t already used it, I highly recommend downloading the calm app on your iPhone or Android device for some sweet ASMR sounds to help you transition into dreamland when you’re ready to go to bed. Comment below your thoughts on this subject and what you do to help improve your mental health and well-being. Stay safe!

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