Every week, we hear about mass shootings at the hand of a violent, enraged gunman. Violence and shootings affect hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people every year. Today, news footage is cluttered with reports and images of people that have suffered at the hands of violence. After the fact, we find out that many mass killers such as Adam Lanza, Anders Berivik, and Evan Ramsey, were addicted to violent video games.
Excessive screen time is common today. Smartphones, televisions, and computers are often used as babysitters for children, even infants. Too much screen time, especially when children are exposed to violence in video games, television and movies (games with 17+ ratings and rated R movies), can change the way their brains respond. They can make children that were once smart and socially engaged, into children that are withdrawn and aggressive. For children and youth that struggle with technology or gaming addiction, screens turn into their drug of choice. A recent article out of the UK interviews a mother of a 12 year old son who has become what she calls, a “monster” – she says she feels like she is living with a drug addict.
Video game addiction is a topic that is becoming more and more talked about. People all over the world are experiencing the effects of gaming and technology addiction, but for individuals in certain Asian countries, gaming addiction is more common. In fact, South Korea takes gaming so seriously that legislators of the Democratic Party of Korea are considering a game addiction law that would regulate video games as addictive substances, similar to alcohol or drugs.
I was recently in an airport waiting in a very hectic area that was crowded with people that were a bit frenzied. A young couple with a son in a stroller waited with us. The child was visibly exhausted, irritable, and was crying intermittently. After a time, he got more and more vocal with a scream that pierced the ears of those of us that waited around him. His parents were trying to find a way to soothe him by telling him to hush, but there was no quieting him.
This horrible tragedy of a young girl that was stabbed 19 times stems from an obsession with Slender Man.
Who’s Slender Man?
We hear a lot about athletes working to improve their game, but well known NBA star LeBron James has found that unplugging – from his phone and all forms of social media – is a great way to focus more, step up his game and in the end, play better.
We hear the word “selfie” all the time. Sure, taking a picture of yourself can be fun every once in a while – especially if you have a great background that you want to share with the social media world. But, for many people, selfies have turned into a dangerous obsession. Selfie addiction is more common for people that are living with other psychological disorders.
A new study shows that 100 million gamers in China show signs of video game addiction, which some sociologists call a form of “brain damage.” Individuals that are addicted to video games often have manifested symptoms of addiction like a person that is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or gambling. Some of these symptoms include inability to control the amount of time they spend gaming, spending money they don’t have to continue gaming, irrational dependence on the game, irritability, violence, detaching from work, family, or social situations, and more.
Kids and youth today spend hours at a time connected to technology. For some, this means that they lack real human connection and simply cannot communicate or feel emotions the same way that others do. Children and young adults that have been trained to “click” rather than communicate how they are feeling via real life interaction, often lack empathy and compassion. Youth today are exposing their brains to technology in ways that generations of people before probably never dreamed. Through repetitive use, kids and teenagers train their brains to stay connected with friends via texts and Internet chats instead of face to face interaction. Continued tech use often exposes their brains to shocking images and videos.
A father in France recently killed his game-addicted son in a small town in France, French news outlet Midi Libre recently reported. The 23 year old son, who may have had a psychological condition, was addicted to online gaming. During a family gathering, the father and son got into an argument that turned physical. The reported cause of the argument was the son’s excessive involvement with online video games. The father grabbed the son by the throat and it’s unclear as to what caused the young man’s death – strangulation or something else. The father called the police and when they arrived, it was too late. The son was pronounced dead. (1)
Bullying today is a hot topic. Even though there is a zero tolerance policy in most schools and other institutions, bullying happens to children and teenagers every day. Victims of bullying often have very powerful responses – sadness, depression, and in more extreme cases, suicide. Bullied children don’t easily forget being bullied, and now a recent study shows that children that are bullied can still suffer negative effects both physically and mentally, well into their adult years.
Cody Wygant, a father in Orlando, admitted to suffocating his crying baby boy so he could continue playing video games. The baby was crying around 1am and the father covered the baby’s mouth and nose for three to four minutes. The baby became lethargic after that, so he put the baby in a playpen and covered him with multiple blankets, including covering his face, and left him. He played video games and watched TV, and when he checked on him four or five hours later, the baby was not breathing and was unable to be resuscitated.
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