How Does Video Game Addiction Affect School Performance?



          It's three o'clock on Friday night. Everything was dark, excluding Julie Kwang's room. She was half asleep, playing her way through her eleventh hour of games that day.  She would hide the game and pretend to be doing her homework when someone came in.

          This teenager used to suffer from a terrible addiction: video game addiction. Unfortunately, there are many children like seventeen year old Julie who are failing in school because of their addiction to games. According to Harris Interactive, 8.5% of all eight to eighteen year olds are considered to be addicted to games. That means millions of children are game addicts.

What Is A Video Game Addiction, Anyway?

A video game addiction is basically an addiction to games. A website called mediafamily.org defines addiction as "a dependence on a substance, such as the drug heroin, or a type of behavior, such as gambling. The dependence is so strong that it may seem as if the person is unable to break away from the dependence." When someone is addicted to games, they depend on it to a great extent. The person can't break away from it easily.      

As seen in this picture, video games can become addicting to some people.

Sometimes, the cause of video game addiction is just because the game is very fun. However, there are also several reasons why children become addicted. "I play because for me, it's an escape from reality and school," Julie said. "I used to always feel strong and ready to face the world." Julie plays games a lot to help cope with the stress of real life. It makes her feel confident.

Many of the effects of video game addictions are school related. Julie Kwang had almost all of the possible effects video game addictions have on children. For example, she would sleep during school. Whenever she wasn't sleeping in school, she would become cranky and irritable to all of her friends. Julie would sacrifice the time she uses for homework to play longer. She would fail her tests because she never studied or paid attention in school. Her grades would plummet.

 Do I have a video game addiction?

          If a child believes that he or she might be addicted to games, the child should watch out for symptoms of a video game addiction that he or she might have. According to Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor from Harris Interactive, a video game addiction can be identified by the following:

  • Withdrawal symptoms when the person tries to stop, such as restlessness and irritableness
  • Spending much of your time thinking about video games
  • Stealing a game or money to buy a game from someone
  • Needing to spend more and more money on the games to stay on the same level of excitement
  • Needing extra money because of over usage of money for gaming
  • Lying to others about how long the person plays
  • Doing poorly on school work due to playing too much
  • Playing video games to escape from bad feelings or issues
  • Skipping activities to play more
  • Limiting gaming time unsuccessfully
  • Skipping homework to play more

How can I stop?

          There are various ways to treat or stop a video game addiction. People with this addiction could go to a video game addiction recovery center or specialist. Xtive, a Korean gaming company, claims that it has made an inaudible sound that will make game addicts quit playing. The sound tells gamers to stop playing around 10,000 to 20,000 times each second. There is a possibility that this subliminal message will actually make gamers stop playing their games. Governments are trying to prevent video game addictions as well. In order to limit the amount people play, China's government has created a new system that must be put into games. When someone plays for too long, their in-game abilities become limited. They must wait a while before they can play again. Julie's mother stopped her daughter's gaming with a simple method. She just hid the computer and games from her. At first, she protested, but as time passed, she became less angry about her restriction to her games. Now, Julie is a normal teenager with many friends. She still plays games, but not as much as she did a few years ago. She averages about two hours of games every week. Her grades have improved as she began to sleep more, allowing her to pay more attention in class. She won't ever forget her past but she is happy she overcame her video game addiction.

A Photoshopped image of the game "EverQuest".
This image is titled "EverCrack" due to the addictive
qualities of EverQuest, which are similar to crack.