Overuse of video games inflicts adverse psychosocial results
October 24th, 2017
Filed under: Anxiety disorder by Rachael

Many mental health professionals and researchers have been analyzing the relationship between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and addictive behaviors, such as obsession about online video games and social networking sites (SNSs). The moderate use of video games, especially indulgence in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) can enhance a person’s self-esteem and instill essential habits necessary for connecting with others. However, the same argument does not stand true for people using video games in a problematic and harmful way.

Several studies have been effectual in determining the connection between an addiction to video games and SAD. The excessive tool of such a virtual tool can inflict dangerous psychosocial and health consequences. Due to the growing evidences of internet gaming disorder (IGD), it has become essential to address the challenges due to the rapid rise in video games. According to a report, more than 23 million individuals were involved in MMORPGs in 2014.

Like SNSs, the internet games assist in building one’s network with people around the world using avatars. However, pathological use, larger perceived support than supportive relationships in real world, etc. were the key predictors of anxiety disorders among the users addicted to MMORPGs. The decisive factors that can diagnose IGD include the level of preoccupation, tolerance and withdrawal.

Negative outcomes of addiction to video games

Past surveys have highlighted that individuals struggling with social phobia are more comfortable in their virtual roles, particularly MMORPGs. Though it can initially benefit the users by raising self-esteem or improving social connection, the chronic use develops into problematic and maladaptive levels of MMORPGs.

The overuse can lead to negative outcomes due to the considerable investment of time and money. Hence, it can impact one’s both mental and physical health by causing implications, such as insomnia, depression, loneliness, etc. The irrational and excessive use can adversely affect the key cognitive-behavioral skills of the people.

The disproportionate use of online games can aggravate a person’s risk to developing mood disorders, obsessive thoughts and other problems. Moreover, these players are more likely to suffer from increased stress, financial troubles, personal issues due to the neglect of school or office work, unhealthy eating patterns, inadequate sleeping habits, altercations and discord with family members, etc.

The addiction to video games can be diagnosed by identifying at least five of the following nine criteria:

  • Preoccupation with playing video games.
  • Tolerance for the growing amount of time needed to play games.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not playing video games
  • Inability to cut back or quit playing video games.
  • Loss of interest in other activities or hobbies.
  • Playing video games continuously despite negative personal consequences.
  • Hiding or lying about the amount of time spent playing

Relationship between social anxiety and video game avatars

The irrational fears and experiences of inadequacy often act as a barrier to communication for the people struggling with social phobia. However, the role-playing online video games offer safer opportunities to such people to develop healthy social connections. As a result, these players tend to form friendships more easily on the online platforms than in the offline settings.

Furthermore, several studies have related the intensity of individuals’ social anxiety to their identification with their online video games avatars. The virtual communications based on the video game avatars allow socially anxious people to experience a sense of community and social importance during the game, which is otherwise inaccessible to them in real life. Moreover, these anonymous and ephemeral avatars give them the confidence to protect themselves from societal judgments.

Seek treatment to overcome social anxiety

Anxiety disorders are one of the debilitating disorders that affect millions of people worldwide. If left untreated, these disorders can wreck one’s normal functioning in daily life. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment for any kind of anxiety at the earliest, as an untreated condition can lead to more serious and irrecoverable conditions.

If you or your loved one is struggling with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, contact the Anxiety Treatment Advisors of Colorado to access a variety of evidence-based treatment plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-891-2539 or chat online with our medical experts to connect with the best anxiety disorders treatment centers in Colorado.

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