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Anxiety, Stress & Coping
September 23, 2022
Are Video Games Holding Me Back?

Isayah Alman

A dad playing VR videos games while not noticing his son isn't playing with him anymore.

Video Games: Helpful or Harmful?

Are video games good for you? This depends on the person. The balance between healthy gaming and video game addiction is a fine line. Let’s look at how video games are impacting your life.

Gaming has Benefits and Drawbacks 

Video games offer many benefits. They exercise our visual and mental capacities. They give us a temporary escape from difficult thoughts and feelings. Video games can help train our dopamine reward system. They provide the opportunity to delay gratification, work through a challenge, and feel satisfied after completing an objective. 

Video games can offer us a safe space to plan for and accomplish goals, and stay resilient in the face of failure or adversity. As a bonus, online video games have become a great avenue for socializing. 

So, how can you tell if your gaming is a healthy, temporary escape from life or an actual addiction? Start by asking yourself: have video games ever stopped me from doing something I wanted to do? 

If you play for two or three hours at the end of a long day, is this a problem? Probably not. Did your late-night gaming binge cause you to sleep in and miss class or work? Have you begun to rely on video games to escape from difficult life challenges? Are you not where you want to be in terms of education, career, or social relationships because of too much gaming? If so, it might be fair to be concerned about a gaming addiction.

Gaming can Become an Addiction

Video gaming may be an addiction when it impairs your daily functioning. What does that mean? If gaming has eaten away your motivation, negatively impacted your physical health, or caused problems in your relationships, this can look like an addiction.  

For example, video games can help you de-stress after a hard day at work. But if your nightly gaming session is the only thing holding you together day-to-day, there might be an issue. In this case, video games have become a way to escape from real problem solving, like resolving issues at work

At the end of the day, video games can become a problem if they stop us from adapting when faced with adversity. If video games are getting in the way of meaningful challenges that help you thrive in life—like forming good habits, building relationships, or learning to communicate effectively—then it might be time to think about your gaming habits. 

Everything in Moderation / Video Gaming in Moderation

Don’t drop the controller just yet! Video games can be a great way to cope with stress. It can be fine to incorporate a one,  two, or even three-hour gaming session into your nightly or weekly self-care regimen. However, video games should not stop us from overcoming stress in other areas of our life, and we shouldn’t use gaming to avoid dealing with our problems.

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