A 17 year old Korean boy stabbed his sleeping sister 11 times earlier this month after playing a violent video game. The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency reported that the boy is being charged with attempted murder. He called the police after it happened and admitted that he was the one who stabbed her. Thankfully, the girl’s injuries were not life threatening.
The boy had played video games for three hours before the incident, but had dedicated most of his life to gaming in the last year according to police. They said that he dropped out of high school and rarely goes outside because of his gaming obsession. Police believe that he was so immersed in the game that he mistakenly took his sister as an enemy in the game. (1)
This is not the first time that a gaming addict has blurred the gaming world with the real world. There have been several reports of violence, stabbings, and even murders by gamers that have been so addicted to violent fighting games that they have acted out their urges in real life. In fact, the gaming addiction problem in South Korea is so prevalent that in 2014, the legislators of the Democratic Party of Korea began discussing creating a game addiction law that would regulate video games as addictive substances, similar to alcohol or drugs.
Gaming can be an incredibly addicting force, especially for individuals who struggle with fitting in or with being accepted by peers. If children or teens are struggling at home or in school, many of them turn to gaming because it’s something that they can devote themselves to and find power in. While video game use in and of itself is not bad, it can easily become overused and abused.
Excessive gaming can also result in severe sleep deprivation. (2) In a recent case series in Military Medicine, we identified a service member with severe sleep deprivation due to excessive video game play of 60 hours a week. The service member expressed homicidal thoughts, which resolved when gaming was removed and the patient slept more. Severe psychosis-like symptoms are associated with significant sleep deprivation, and perhaps patients with homicidal thoughts are a consequence of both sleep deprivation and the influence of the violent games they are playing. On the other hand, studies have suggested minimal or no correlation between violent video games and violent behaviors. Perhaps, in the setting of sleep deprivation and underlying emotional dysregulation, violent media and games may have more significant impact on behaviors and thoughts than observed in healthy individuals.
If you believe you or someone you know is struggling with technology or game addiction, don’t ignore it. Seek help immediately. The dangers of technology addiction and overuse can be devastating.
1. Chung Hyun-chae. “Game-addicted teenager stabs sister with knife.” The Korea Times. May 1, 2015. Accessed online May 21, 2015. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2015/05/116_178149.html
2. Eickhoff E, Yung K, Davis DL, Bishop F, Klam WP, and Doan AP. Excessive Video Game Use, Sleep Deprivation, and Poor Work Performance Among United States Marines Treated in a Military Mental Health Clinic: A Case Series Military Medicine. Military Medicine. In press.