Is gaming a hobby or addiction?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Levin Boland
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Much like many other people my age, I grew up on video games and now, I regret it.

From a very young age, I had multiple gaming platforms that allowed me to easily spend countless hours staring at the television. My education, physical fitness and social life suffered greatly. I had severe anxiety around other kids my age and was always that awkward, quiet kid falling asleep in the back of the class waiting for the day to be over so he could go home and play games.

When I played games, it was easy to get carried away and spend too much time in a virtual world of my choice where I could be anything and everything I wanted.

I always thought it was a harmless, easy way to forget about the stress of the day when I got home. All real-life problems would just disappear at the press of a button as I escaped into my own little world. Before I knew it, it was 2 a.m. and I spent the entire night playing a video game that has no positive effect in my real life.

Not being able to moderate your time in front of the big screen is a problem that has come the light for the past few years. According to a study conducted in 2009, the average time spent on media platforms for young adults in the United States is more than nine hours a day.

It is even beginning to be treated as an addiction, similar to gambling and eating. There are in-patient and out-patient treatment centers that specialize in treating addictions to the Internet and gaming, and group therapy sessions for gamers that use the "12-Step Program" which is a set of guiding, spiritual principles that outlines a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion and behavioral problems.

Just like other addictions, it has been known to cause depression, suicidal ideations, serious health risks, financial issues and major problems with their home and work life. Some recent cases have resulted in child neglect that has caused the death of the child.

When I spoke about this issue with other people, it seemed as if this problem is not taken as seriously as some of the more common addictions. People do not understand how horrible conditions can get for individuals who are not able to moderate their time playing a game. I believe this is because in our new generation, electronic means of entertainment such as video games and the internet have become a social norm that are used almost constantly in some way throughout the day.

I was set on a horrible path to failure, I felt like I wouldn't spend enough time for my son and I would set a bad example for my son. I forced myself to change after my son was born in 2011. I went from hours on end every day to just a few minutes a day, and finally to nothing for months at a time.

I stopped for my family but I should have never allowed myself to be that way in the first place. Some people are not able to stop so easily and I believe it can become an addiction, rather than a hobby.

Just like any other hobby, I am not trying to say it is wrong to play video games. I still love to play but it must be in moderation. I will never allow myself to go back to the way I once was.

Even if you don't feel like you are addicted, but you consistently have that horrible gut feeling after spending hours playing video games and realizing your day has been wasted, ask Mental Health for some help to get back on the right track.