Addiction to video games and the Internet is gaining legitimacy as a psychological disorder and has been acknowledged in the updated edition of the American Psychological Association diagnostic manual. Video game addiction and other Internet-related compulsive disorders are often a sign of depression and anxiety. Teen video game addiction requires careful intervention from parents. Experts say video games can be just as addicting as street drugs and itís not uncommon for kids to become violent when their drug of choice is taken away.
Kids can become physically and verbally abusive. Most parents can't imagine that their 12-year-old boy would push his mother when she tries to unplug the game. Games like "Call of Duty" are open-ended, unlike arcade games of the past, which may make modern video games even more addictive.
Video game and Internet addiction usually point to other mental problems like anxiety, depression and trouble forming healthy relationships. Addicts use drugs like heroin or crack to self-medicate their anxiety or depression and to escape from the pressures of society and their low self-esteem. People get addicted to video games for the same reason.
Video game addiction affects the same pleasure centers in the brain that make people want to come back for more. If you look at drug abuse or alcoholism and Internet addiction, itís the same pattern of behavior.
The problem does not really lay in the video games, any more than the problem for an alcoholic lies in a can of beer. Many people can have one can of beer, and thatís it. But others have a biological predisposition towards addictive behavior. When you see a heavy drinker going into a bar, you know what theyíre going in there for. But when a kid goes into their room and sits at a laptop for hour after hour, itís not always apparent that theyíre doing something harmful.