Who is Most Likely to Suffer from Video Game Addiction?

Like most addictions, video game addiction doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can fall victim to the challenge and appeal of these interactive games. But certain people are at greater risk of developing a video game addiction than others. This heightened threat is based on several factors including gender, age, personality traits, and other underlying factors.

With over 2 billion people across the globe playing a variety of video games, it doesn’t take much for an innocent hobby or pastime to quickly consume and control your life. By understanding the potential risk factors of gaming addiction, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

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Video Game Statistics

  • Between 1 and 10% of gamers have an addiction
  • Males between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the greatest risk of developing an addiction
  • The average male gamer is 33 years old, while the average female gamer is slightly older at 37
  • 94% of gaming addicts are male

Some of these statistics are surprising since most people associate video games with children and adolescents. While the majority of gaming addicts are over the age of 18, most were introduced to video games at a much younger age.

A recent survey showed that the average adolescent boy plays at least 3 hours of video games per day — an amount of gameplay that 9 out of 10 parents feel is too much. Twice as many teenage boys play video games as girls. This is a trend that continues into adulthood. Studies suggest that video games are more stimulating for men than women, which is why most addicts are male. There’s also science to back this claim. Another study reported that the part of the brain that generates feelings of reward is activated more in men than women who play video games. That means that males get more enjoyment and stimulation from video games than females.

Video Game Addiction Demographics and Statistics

Here are some more statistics surrounding video game addicts and who’s most at risk.

  • Nearly 70% of gaming addicts are Caucasian
  • Iran has the highest number of video game addicts with an alarming 22.8% of citizens admitting they have a problem
  • South Korea declared video game addiction as public health crises with over 600,000 children suffering from it
  • Socio-economic and employment status can impact a gamer’s likelihood of becoming addicted
  • A mother’s employment status and education can impact her child’s risk of addiction
  • The video game industry is on the rise and grew from $7.4 billion in 1999 to over $131 billion in 2018. This increase is expected to continue and reach over $300 billion by 2025.
  • Mobile gaming is on the rise with 2.4 billion people playing games for at least 60 minutes per day on a mobile device
  • Over 50% of gamers play on personal computers
  • Nearly 7% of teenage boys play video games on a console
  • Over 40% of teens admit they spend too much time playing video games
  • 75% of parents claim video games have a positive impact on their children

This last statistic might come as a surprise, but both parents and experts agree there are some underrated benefits of video games for kids. These include problem-solving, creative and imaginative play, reading, strategy, communicating, forming friendships, and establishing other social connections. While this may not be true for all kids that game, these underlying benefits are just a few reasons why video games are appealing to a younger demographic.

Factors that Put You at Risk of Gaming Addiction

Not all teen boys or men aged 18 to 24 are destined to become addicted to video games. In fact, in many cases, video game addiction has little to do with age, race, or gender. There are several underlying personality traits and even medical conditions that put some gamers at a greater risk of developing an addiction.

Let’s take a closer look at these factors.

Stress

According to The American Institute of Stress, 33% of people admit to feeling extremely stressed with another 77% admitting that stress negatively impacts their lives. In an effort to reduce stress and rediscover happiness, people turn to a variety of outlets. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and yes, video games, are all useful tools for reducing stress. That’s not to say that all stressed individuals will develop a gaming disorder, however, if you use video games as your outlet for stress, you need to be careful. As with any addiction, a few minutes of gameplay can quickly escalate to hours. Some addicts admit to losing days at a time to their favorite games. Use video games in moderation by setting limits or a timer. Not only will this reduce your risk of developing an addiction, but it will prevent the need for increased play to achieve the same positive results.

Depression

In addition to stress, people suffering from depression are also at risk of developing a gaming addiction. Let’s face it, video games are fun! Not only do they offer an escape, but the bright colors, fun characters, challenges, and ability to control your destiny are all features that appeal to depressed individuals. It also gives them something to look forward to when other things in life feel overwhelming and dark.

If your depression is associated with low self-esteem, the challenge posed by video games provides an instant confidence boost. As gamers complete tasks, overcome challenges and achieve higher levels and accomplishments, they feel a greater sense of self-worth. Video games provide measurable growth, which can become addicting for those who don’t feel competent in their daily lives. As gamer’s skills improve, so do their self-confidence and pride.

It’s important to note that gaming addiction among those who are stressed or depressed isn’t completely psychological. There’s actually a physical, chemical reaction associated with the euphoria gamers feel as they progress through a game, unlocking rewards and accomplishing new tasks. Similar to exercise, playing video games releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins. When this happens, gamers feel happy, relaxed, and calm — all feelings they struggle to achieve in everyday life. Over time, your brain associates gameplay with feelings of happiness, and thus, an addiction develops.

Social Anxiety

Another condition that stems from depression is anxiety. Those who suffer from social anxiety become irrationally anxious, paranoid, and upset when faced with social situations or interactions. Large crowds, eye contact, and face-to-face conversations are major triggers for those suffering from social anxiety. Video games provide these gamers with an unintimidating way to interact, communicate, and connect with the outside world. Now more than ever, MMO (massively multiplayer online) games are on the rise. Chat rooms and team challenges help players feel part of a community larger than themselves. There’s a certain sense of unity associated with MMO games. While video games are a great outlet for those with social anxiety, in some extreme cases, they can develop into an addiction that makes it increasingly more difficult for players to break from their comfort zone and explore the world around them.

Adrenaline Junkies

Do you like living on the wild side? You’re not alone. Millions of people enjoy extreme sports and potentially dangerous activities and professions. What if there was a way for you to push the envelope without actually putting yourself in physical danger or breaking the law? Video games offer this exact opportunity.

Many gamers who are also self-proclaimed thrillseekers, use video games as a safe outlet for participating in dangerous activities. There are video games for all types of thrillseekers from skydiving and motorcycle racing to high-speed police chases and shoot-outs. These games allow players to engage in taboo behaviors in the safety and comfort of their homes. The introduction of VR games has taken things to the next level by putting players in the driver seat (literally) of some pretty intense scenarios. This desire to push the envelope and take part in risky (and sometimes illegal) behaviors, motivates some people to choose a safer alternative — video games that simulate real-life situations. Sadly, some people don’t realize that while video games may be physically safer, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing an addiction.

The Truth About Gaming Addiction

There’s no guarantee that everyone who plays video games will become addicted. Like alcohol use, some people can drink socially and in moderation, while others have difficulty saying no and become dependent on the escape that alcohol provides.

The first step in gaming addiction treatment is being honest with yourself. What are your tendencies? What underlying conditions are you grappling with? Ask yourself why you play video games in the first place? Understanding your motivation for gaming might reveal which of these risk factors applies to you. Armed with this information, you can make mindful, conscious decisions about your gaming habits and reduce your risk of developing an addiction. The resources and information found in The Mindful Gamer are designed to put the power back in your hands and help you lead a fulfilling life, free of addiction.

References
  • News Medical Life Sciences (January 20, 2020). Kids Spending Too Much Time Gaming
  • Stanford Medicine (February 4, 2008) Video Games Activate Reward Regions of Brain in Men More than Women
  • The American Institute of Stress (2014) What is Stress?