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Video Gaming and Internet Addiction : Harmful or Harmless?

internet addiction video gaming free research paperThe more the addiction to video games, Internet and social media is increased among teenagers and young adults, the more concerned the parents become. It is where family therapists play an important role. Are video games really bad for children? How to counter addiction to social media? Researchers explored the impact for these new forms of entertainment to assist family therapists.

When researchers compared two groups of players who played massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) and other arcade or console games, it resulted that MMORPG players faced “worse health, greater interference in real-world socialization, poor sleep quality and a decline of academic performance”. On the other hand, a number of new friendships were formed among MMORPG players.

Since gamers choose to play games not only for “socially unacceptable feelings and desires” but also for “autonomy and competence”, researchers recommended family therapists not to associate video gaming with negative myths. They concluded that “it is no longer valid to claim that video gaming is a completely harmless activity nor is it reasonable to assume that gaming is solely negative.”

On the other hand, Internet addiction is as another serious problems among family members. In China, the government assumed that “it was a serious public health problem” in 2008. While online games may provide “meaningful world of interaction and collaboration”, users have negative impacts when they use Internet pathologically. According to a case study analysing dysfunctional communication pattern among family members, “a person with emotional problems has a tendency to become an Internet addict”. Good news is that intervention of a family therapists can resurrect the relationship between family members that can eventually reduce addiction to Internet by younger members of the family.

Curious about more detailed research on issues faced by families due to technologies? Check this issue of Journal of Family Therapy with insightful editorial titled “Information Communication Technologies and the Family: Friend or Foe?” Articles are free through December 10th, 2014!

Jordan, N. (2014). Video games: support for the evolving family therapist Journal of Family Therapy, 36 (4), 359-370 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6427.2012.00593.x

Park, T., Kim, S., & Lee, J. (2014). Family therapy for an Internet-addicted young adult with interpersonal problems Journal of Family Therapy, 36 (4), 394-419 DOI: 10.1111/1467-6427.12060

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