What is the Relationship between Video Games and Mental Health?

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Why this topic?
Below is my explanation of why I chose this topic.

To start off, this is an interesting TED talk about why screens in general are bad for us.

 

Video Game Addiction

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https://forms.gle/UgmV3SRVK8qXZBxCA

Video games are always fun in moderation, but sometimes they can be used as an escape from reality.  Here is a survey about some important things to think about in terms of video games and mental health. 



Interviews:

Interview #1: Adolfo Rosales
Adolfo Rosales is a local therapist who works independently in Coral Gables, Florida. Adolfo specializes in teenage boys and depression, so I decided to interview him to try to get to the bottom of my question. This is a summary of my more important questions and responses.


Me: “Are a lot of your patients involved in excessive computer use?”
Adolfo: “Yes, especially with covid. High correlation between depression and video games. People who do better are spending less time in front of screens.” 
Me: “Do you think computer use plays a role in depression?”
Adolfo: “Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but a lot of research has shown people who spend more than 4 hours a day tend to have higher rates of depression.” 
Me: “Why do you think they are correlated?”
Adolfo: “If you are not really active, you are more sedentary and more likely to play games. The blue light affects how well you can sleep, which plays a major role.” 
Me: “Do you think the online world is beneficial or detrimental to someone with mental health issues?”
Adolfo: “It can be both. Chats, support groups, and even therapy is available online nowadays. During covid, computers help you socialize and even learn about your depression, In groups can associate online during covid especially. Research exploring if computer programs help with depression, such as video games and software.”


Overall, Adolfo was careful not to say that video games caused depression or vice versa, but he was confident that correlation existed between them. This solidified my initial ideas about computers and mental health, and I wanted to find someone who could speak first-hand on this issue. This leads into my next interview. 


Interview #2: “Taydolf”
The only way I know the person I interviewed here is by his online name “Taydolf”. He is an 18 year old man who spends most his time online, and most people would define him as a recluse. Here are my notes from my interview with him.

Me: How much time do you spend on your pc a day? 
Taydolf: 6-10 hours. Probably from when I get home to when I sleep. 330pm-11pm
Me: Do you have any headaches or eye problems, and how long have you been playing games?
Taydolf: Yes to sleep troubles, headaches. Chronic headaches since child. Playing games for whole life.      
Me: What would your life be like without your computer?
Taydolf: Friends, chillin, fishing  
Me: Describe your social life? 
Taydolf: Laid back, watch movies and chill with friends. 10 close friends, hang out every day.  
Me: What is your experience with depression? 
Taydolf: Yes, depression since young. Diagnosed at 7. 
Computer is an escape from depression. Feel better when playing games.
Me: describe your life without computer?
Taydolf: More boring but more social. 

Overall, my interview with Taydolf showed me a first hand experience with mental health issues and computer use. Taydolf says he was diagnosed young, and that video games made him feel better.
So, in this specific case it appears that the mental illness caused the excessive video game playing. Of course this is not the case for everyone, but I think it’s fair to assume that other people
have similar experiences as Taydolf. I thought taydolf said something important at the end of the interview when he said that his life would be more social without his computer. This plays into
the cycle of addiction, which involves low mood swings when not satisficing the addiction.



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Scholarly articles:

#1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44504679?seq=1
MOREH, SWENDA, and HENRY O’LAWRENCE. “COMMON RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH ADOLESCENT AND YOUNG ADULT DEPRESSION.” Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, vol. 39, no. 2, 2016, pp. 283–310. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44504679. Accessed 28 Mar. 2021.

This article was about some common themes of depression in young adults. One of those themes was video game use. Just like Adolfo this article was careful not to jump to conclusions about causation. The closest it came
was tying video games and depression together.

#2. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/blue-light-health#:~:text=Blue%20light%20from%20electronics%20is,Some%20people%20have%20sleep%20issues.

This article was about blue light. Again connecting back to my interview with Adolfo, the article mentions that blue light affects sleep, which can affect mood and play a factor in depression. Many video game addicted teens
stay up late into the night bombarding their eyes with blue light, and have sleep troubles just like Taydolf because of this.

#3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574844/

This article was a more statistical source which went through the task of proving correlation between video games and mental health issues, especially depression. This article solidified the conclusion that video games are tied to mental health, but it could not draw conclusions about which caused which.






My conclusions: At first, I thought going through this process I would come up with a clearly defined answer. I thought video games would cause mental health issues, or vice versa. But, at the end of the day I cannot come to any concrete conclusion like that. Instead, all I can say is that the relationship is correlation. Of course in some cases like Taydolf, mental health can cause people to retreat into the online world, but the opposite could occur just as easily. After interviewing a professional and reading scholarly articles about this topic, my conclusion is simple that a relationship between video games and mental health issues exists, and that the relationship is dependent on the situation.

6 Comments

6 comments

  1. Hi Frank! I think this topic is really important to talk about, especially because it impacts us teens. The main quote I will be taking away from your project is “People who do better are spending less time in front of screens”. I think this is a little scary, but also important to hear because it is just too easy to fall into a pattern of daily prolonged screen-time use. Just like other kinds of addiction, screentime feels great.. until it doesn’t. I wonder if there could be systematic ways we could help eliminate video game addiction. I would also be curious to see who you see is to blame, if anyone. Is it the tech companies, the parents, or is it just something we can no longer control? Great job by the way!

    1. Hi Anna, thanks for your comments. I like how you acknowledged how video games and screen time are a real addiction like anything else. These things can take control of your life. Fighting video game abuse is hard because we are fighting against the cycle that I posted in my presentation. Again, thanks for your comments.

  2. Hey Frank- I really liked to see that you chose a topic that hit close to home for you. I could tell that this meant a lot for you to research, and it reflected in your project. I enjoyed the way you used your infographic to show just how widespread this addiction has come. I can understand how, unlike other addictions such as substances or gambling, video game addiction must face some kind of stigma because it has become relevant much for recently. Your presentation of this research did a great job of making people aware that video game addiction is just as legitimate and it can have just as painful of consequences. Great work bringing awareness to such an issue that will have a more and more complicated solution as time goes on.

    1. Hi Emma, thanks for your comment. This topic definitely did hit home for me, as I have spent a lot of my life in front of games and screens. Video game addiction is a really big problem in the US today, especially because so many people do not acknowledge it. Anyways, thanks for acknowledging it and for your kind comment on my post.

  3. Hi Frank!
    Your topic was really unique and something I wouldn’t have thought about researching yet it got my attention because the use of video games seems to be heavily dependent on our generation/younger people. The perspective of video game use as an addiction was really impactful in looking at it as an issue that could cause symptoms that are similar to other forms of addiction that we’ve learned about earlier in the Abnormal Psychology course. I also liked your use of infographics and the fact that you didn’t have a clearly defined answer because it opens up a new question of what could be a greater stressor for mental health issues related to video games. Great work!

  4. Hi Frank! Thank you for your excellent presentation! I think you chose a perfect topic that was especially appropriate for times like these. When I first read the main question, I was expecting many negatives as opposed to positives. After I read your project, I realized that I thought that way initially was because of the effect of stigma around video games. I didn’t understand how video games could also have social, emotional, and overall mental benefits. Of course it’s important to spend the right amount of time, and not have it interfere with other aspects of our lives, but I understand now how it can be an escape from reality. One statistic that shocked me was how if you spend more than 4 hours a day on screens, have greater chances of developing depression. It’s crazy to think that now most kids spend up to 8 hours just on zoom.
    Great job!

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