In full disclosure, the author of this blog post does play video games from time to time. As a gamer, I can see the potential to overindulge in video games if it becomes a priority in your life. However, I can also see the benefits of some games and the obvious evil in other video games. In this article, I am not going to go over specific games, but rather address the issue of video game addiction at its core.
In my personal life, I see video games as a pastime not too un-similar to fishing, golfing, and other entertainment that many people indulge in from time to time for a little R&R. It is something that is a low priority, but it is something that I enjoy. However, my relationship with God and my family tops the priority list in my life.
Is Video Game Addiction Real?
Many splashy headlines have warned parents that their kids were being turned into junkies because video games release dopamine into the brain the same way heroin or other illicit drugs do.
However, more recent studies show that video gaming raises dopamine levels in the brain to about the same degree that eating a slice of pepperoni pizza or dish of ice cream does (without the calories). That is, it raises dopamine to roughly double its normal resting level, whereas drugs like heroin, cocaine, or amphetamine raise dopamine by roughly ten times that much.
Dopamine is the brains reaction to pleasure. The only way to avoid it would be to devoid your entire life of anything pleasurable. But this is not to say that video game addiction isn’t real. It is real.
What is Video Game Addiction?
Video game addiction can be put into the same category as food addiction. It is a behavioral issue that is often spurred by underlying mental and behavioral problems. For example, when a video game is used as a coping mechanism to avoid the responsibilities or rigors of life, or as self-medication for depression, then it is not just for “a little R&R”. The video games can become an obsessive behavior that is overindulged in. This is when it becomes an addiction.
From God’s perspective, anything that comes between you and your relationship with Him is a sin and a stumbling block. This could be anything from video games to sports, to golf, to other types of recreational activities.
Can video games be redeemed for good?
Absolutely! From a mental and physical standpoint, gaming can increase spatial memory, visual acuity, and attention, navigation, executive functioning, including the ability to solve problems and make reasoned decisions, along with a whole list of cognitive abilities. Your brain is, in this sense, like a muscle that you are exercising.
Video games can be educational and they can be used to teach lessons. A recent article published by USA Today showed a group of adult Minecraft gamers that used the game to video blog about theology and the things of God as well as building Bible-themed creations.
Video games can be used for good.
What is the cure for video game addiction?
As with any behavior, it begins in your spirit. Is your spirit in communication and under the direction of the Holy Spirit? Are you allowing God to control every area of your life? God isn’t against us having leisure, but He wants to be first in our lives. Making that personal connection with God every day and walking with Him is a priority. That is how you avoid any behavior (good or bad) from taking over your life and becoming a stronghold of addiction. When it does become a stronghold, then it is time to starve that appetite. As a parent, you can help your child with an overeating addiction by limiting their consumption. The same is true with video games. If the game is controlling them, you have to teach them to allow God to control that appetite. It is the same for adults. If you have a video game addiction, seek help. Accountability is necessary. And, most importantly, seek God’s face. You do not have to seek comfort by escaping reality; instead, you can find comfort in the Comforter!