The playful aspect and feature of the game are important ingredients for a healthy development of the individual, it is through play that children begin to learn those rules and roles that are an indispensable element in the process of identification and socialization of the child.
Given the appearance of healthy playful, it should however be noted that, today, the game has taken on very different characteristics than those who for centuries have ensured the role of “the smithy of socialization”, in particular some of the characteristics of modern games ( video games) seem to favor, if used in excess, the development of forms of discomfort, especially in predisposed personalities, can evolve into real psychopathological problems.
First, by analyzing some key differences between the traditional and modern video games, one can identify some important differences:
1 - traditional games encourage socialization while video games are mostly “consumed” in solitude;
2 - traditional games challenge us to identify with real people though interpret different roles, while in video games you run the risk of identifying with virtual characters, often with magical powers, which in severe cases can lead to emulation of malicious actions;
3 - traditional games represented a link between generations and they were commonly passed down from parent to child, while virtual games often have the effect of “separate” (think of the grandfather with his grandson, unlikely the two will have the same technical and linguistic ”baggage” or skills related to the game);
4 - hours and hours spent, perhaps in solitude, in front of video games can loosen the critical skills and adherence to the reality of the child or adolescent;
5 - in traditional games hardly one came to conceive aggressive and violent actions, while in video games these kinds of actions are widely used and appreciated by young people.
These fundamental differences between traditional games and video games can make the idea of the problems to which psychological and physical addiction to virtual games can bring.
There is talk of Addiction or Dependence when the person establishes a relationship of “subordination” with a substance, activity or behavior that are necessary for the “welfare” of the person.
The addiction to video games behaved phenomena of tolerance and withdrawal, which is the subject and forced to progressively increase the “dose” of time spent playing to get the desired level of excitement while abstinence involves a series of psychological and physical symptoms (restlessness, agitation, difficulty of concentrating, sleep disturbances and mood, obsessive thoughts related to video games etc. ..) that occur when the subject is unable to play.
The main consequences of the video game addiction may include:
- academic difficulties;
- impairment of social relationships;
- impairment of health, for example due to the overweight sedentary life;
- sleep disorders, nutrition or mood changes;
- psychological problems of a dissociative reduction of the right of criticism or detachment from reality;
- withdrawal problems when the subject can not play;
- tendency to take “illegal” actions (eg. bullying) or lie to get money for video games;
- tendency to neglect other interests (sports, friendships, hobbies, etc. ..).
Finally, aware of the limits of generalization, we can assume the “effects” that the video games dependence can have on weaker personality – especially where the process of identity construction, such as adolescents, is still in progress-providing them with a sort of “escape” from a reality unsatisfactory, boring and anonymous, in a virtual environment in which they find refuge.