Posted by Apathylad (3065 posts) -

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

My brother had this news report on the background, and I decided to look more into it. A lot of us spend a long time on the Internet and playing video games. I won't deny there are extreme cases when people will neglect their responsibilities in favor of games, but the same can be said for any other recreational activity. NBC's The Rock Center with Brian Williams did a story on internet addiction last night, and concluded with a grim portrayal of heavy internet users, especially gamers.

The report starts out with a 9-1-1 call in which Brooke McSweeney, mother of the 17-year old Chris, tells the operator her son had become violent after she took away his electronics. At the end of the story, we return to Chris and are told he had seen a therapist and had started playing football again, but instead of going out and celebrating with his teammates, he goes home to play online with friends. “He feels like they're there for him,” says Chris' mother. “They understand because they're – they're addicts too. That's his family now.” Even though we're told the American Psychiatric Association finds more research is needed for “Internet Use Disorder”, the rest of the video agrees with Chris' mother. On numerous occasions, they use the analogy that video game addiction is no different than drug or alcohol abuse, even though another psychiatrist in the video stated it is nowhere near as black and white.

Most of the interviews take place at reSTART, a rehabilitation center for internet addiction. “I think we're all in the same boat. No one set out to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or to computer games,” says Brett Walker, one of the patients at reSTART. Founded in 2009, reSTART has treated over 500 patients for internet addiction. Walker was addicted to World of Warcraft prior to his admittance at reSTART, going weeks without showering and at times playing over twelve hours in a day. ““Everyone we've met at reSTART said their virtual lives have destroyed their real lives,” says Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor at NBC. “I came in skeptical. I came out a believer. Because if you look at the brain scans, the same area where cocaine and heroin and sexual and – gambling addicts, their brains light up. Same thing for this. And they're rigged, these people are rigged to fail...And people mistakenly swap these online friends for the real deal.” What's strange is that in this same video, Dr. Elias Aboujaoude states it is uncertain whether the changes in the brain are a cause or an effect.

I take issue with the comments about internet friends somehow being less valuable. Much like the anger toward video games, the comments about their bad influences aren't that simple. There is nothing stopping a person from socializing on the Internet and in the real world, just like that same person can enjoy video games and still be responsible in his or her well-being. In my case, I'd argue that being more active on the Internet has made me into a more social person. After I started interacting with the Giant Bomb community, I began going to more conventions, blog about them, and even meet up with a few people I had previously known exclusively on the Internet. It is highly unlikely I would have accomplished any of those things if I wasn't on internet as much.

Do you guys have any thoughts on the report? You can do more reading on this story on Rock Center's site.

#1 Posted by Apathylad (3065 posts) -

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

My brother had this news report on the background, and I decided to look more into it. A lot of us spend a long time on the Internet and playing video games. I won't deny there are extreme cases when people will neglect their responsibilities in favor of games, but the same can be said for any other recreational activity. NBC's The Rock Center with Brian Williams did a story on internet addiction last night, and concluded with a grim portrayal of heavy internet users, especially gamers.

The report starts out with a 9-1-1 call in which Brooke McSweeney, mother of the 17-year old Chris, tells the operator her son had become violent after she took away his electronics. At the end of the story, we return to Chris and are told he had seen a therapist and had started playing football again, but instead of going out and celebrating with his teammates, he goes home to play online with friends. “He feels like they're there for him,” says Chris' mother. “They understand because they're – they're addicts too. That's his family now.” Even though we're told the American Psychiatric Association finds more research is needed for “Internet Use Disorder”, the rest of the video agrees with Chris' mother. On numerous occasions, they use the analogy that video game addiction is no different than drug or alcohol abuse, even though another psychiatrist in the video stated it is nowhere near as black and white.

Most of the interviews take place at reSTART, a rehabilitation center for internet addiction. “I think we're all in the same boat. No one set out to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or to computer games,” says Brett Walker, one of the patients at reSTART. Founded in 2009, reSTART has treated over 500 patients for internet addiction. Walker was addicted to World of Warcraft prior to his admittance at reSTART, going weeks without showering and at times playing over twelve hours in a day. ““Everyone we've met at reSTART said their virtual lives have destroyed their real lives,” says Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor at NBC. “I came in skeptical. I came out a believer. Because if you look at the brain scans, the same area where cocaine and heroin and sexual and – gambling addicts, their brains light up. Same thing for this. And they're rigged, these people are rigged to fail...And people mistakenly swap these online friends for the real deal.” What's strange is that in this same video, Dr. Elias Aboujaoude states it is uncertain whether the changes in the brain are a cause or an effect.

I take issue with the comments about internet friends somehow being less valuable. Much like the anger toward video games, the comments about their bad influences aren't that simple. There is nothing stopping a person from socializing on the Internet and in the real world, just like that same person can enjoy video games and still be responsible in his or her well-being. In my case, I'd argue that being more active on the Internet has made me into a more social person. After I started interacting with the Giant Bomb community, I began going to more conventions, blog about them, and even meet up with a few people I had previously known exclusively on the Internet. It is highly unlikely I would have accomplished any of those things if I wasn't on internet as much.

Do you guys have any thoughts on the report? You can do more reading on this story on Rock Center's site.

#2 Edited by believer258 (11032 posts) -

NBC is of course going to be slanted towards the "video games are bad!" side of this argument, and of course we're all going to be slanted toward the "no they aren't!" side, but let's be truthful here: There are many people who have found the wonders of the internet and the thrill of a good video game and have proceeded to waste days, weeks, in some cases months and years, inside of a video game. And I'll be truthful about myself as well: I spent a whole lot of my youth pushing away other things to play more games. Looking back, that was in many cases a symptom of a bigger problem ("Son, go play more sports!" "But I don't like sports..."), but nevertheless there were many other things I could have done. That boils more down to personal responsibility than the fault of video games, but it doesn't change the idea that maybe without the existence of games I may have become something entirely different than I am now. I don't regret getting into them, but sometimes I do regret not doing other things every now and then.

But I digress. Video games, like any other art form, or anything at all really, are best taken with personal responsibility. A pinch of moderation and self-discipline will go a long way in making your life much more fulfilling, and frankly NBC doesn't want to preach at people, they want views, so they're going to run this story from the controversial side of things so that ignorant fathers and old women will believe that video games are the cause of their kid's problems.

#3 Edited by SensuousLettuce (103 posts) -

This is why I had to quit competitive MP games. I'm very laid back in RL, but when I play those I get SO ANGRY and would rage. My whole personality would change. Same thing happens to my friends. For the record: I shower almost daily. :)

#4 Edited by Chop (1962 posts) -

Well, I mean, you can become addicted to anything that causes pleasure...right?

Anyways, I don't think I was as bad off as some people but I do think I was addicted at one point. Through my teenage years, I didn't have a single other hobby; I had no friends because I refused to go out, I only wanted to go home and play games. Shit, I almost got kicked out of school because I skipped so much just to play damn games.

Internet addiction is a whole nother' beast. I know I'm still addicted to that, I'd fucking die without it.

*shakes fist* DAMN YOU GAMES!

#5 Posted by keiblerfan69 (52 posts) -

So she is a poor parent and its the games fault again.

#6 Posted by AlexanderSheen (4655 posts) -

People like them are not representative of all people who uses the internet for gaming or for anything else. They took it too extremely. I mean I'm using the internet for years and I don't look like that. And you can took anything too extremely, not just video games, for example: eating, watching TV or working.

Online
#7 Posted by believer258 (11032 posts) -

@AlexanderSheen said:

People like them are not representative of all people who uses the internet for gaming or for anything else. They took it too extremely. I mean I'm using the internet for years and I don't look like that. And you can took anything too extremely, not just video games, for example: eating, watching TV or working.

I can't tell if your grammar is purposefully bad in order to make a statement or if you just didn't care enough to make it better.

#8 Posted by Cathryn (540 posts) -

I'm only basing my response on your summary of the report as I'm currently at the office, but it seems to me that they've focused on odd cases. I have no doubt that a person who plays WoW for 12 hours per day and neglects the rest of their life certainly has issues and possibly has an addiction to that particular game. I generally believe that there are some people who are, via genetics or whatever, probably hardwired with addictive personalities, and all they really need to do is find whatever their own bent is (whether it be gambling or sex or video games) and they're lost until they wake up and get some help.

As a person who has been making friends online for quite some time now (I'm 31 and have been online since I was about 14), I believe that online friendships are just as important as our in person friendships. In my experience, however, my online friendships have been fundamentally different from my in-person friendships in one particular way: longevity. If I count up the general cohorts of friends I've had over the years, in person, I've had somewhere around 7. This includes different phases of education, some jobs, and most of these changes occurred in high school -- some members of these cohorts I still spend time with, and others I've totally dropped, but the dropping happens a lot less often, and there is a core group that I've been with since I was basically around 12 that I will likely never get rid of. ;D

Online, I have had somewhere around 13 cohorts of friends in only 16 years. The reason for all these changes in friend groups tends to be changes in interests. Internet-based communities tend to be greatly interest-focused. I like anime, I hang out on an anime forum, I like video games, thus I hang out on a video game website. A person's interests, however, tend to be fairly fluid -- sometimes we favour different hobbies over others, we switch around between fandoms, we gain new interests and drop old ones. Because we don't hang out with our interest-based online friends in person, it becomes fairly easy to switch them in and out the same way we do interests, or at least this is how things have worked for me over the years, in both directions.

It's easier to keep friendships up when you share common experiences, imo. lol, I hope that all makes some sense :/

#9 Posted by AlexanderSheen (4655 posts) -

@believer258: Man, give me a break.

Online
#10 Posted by Bwast (1334 posts) -

As is the case with most addiction, finding out what they're escaping from is the key to facilitate treatment. It's a waste of time to demonize the addiction.

#11 Posted by Marcsman (2867 posts) -

Video games are like crack. They both fuck up my thumbs. Ha ha

#12 Posted by jerseyscum (852 posts) -
#13 Posted by RIDEBIRD (1229 posts) -

I am very addicted to a constant information flow and see our time now as a simple transitional period to always on humanity, basically. I'll probably enjoy it, as I can let go of screens and devices and learn to multi task better.

Haven't really been addicted to games though, except perhaps vanilla WoW in high school, since you had to put in ridiculous amounts of time to get anywhere in that game.

#14 Posted by g6065 (270 posts) -

@believer258 said:

NBC is of course going to be slanted towards the "video games are bad!" side of this argument, and of course we're all going to be slanted toward the "no they aren't!" side....

A very balanced / mature response. Maybe NBC could use you?

#15 Posted by believer258 (11032 posts) -

@g6065 said:

@believer258 said:

NBC is of course going to be slanted towards the "video games are bad!" side of this argument, and of course we're all going to be slanted toward the "no they aren't!" side....

A very balanced / mature response. Maybe NBC could use you?

I'd work as a newsperson at NBC, they probably pay well.

Anyway, you should read the rest of my post, I expressed a bit of distaste toward NBC.

#16 Posted by Kidavenger (3379 posts) -

I think the spot where the reporter asked the WoW player if he was a loser in real life, she hit the nail on the head; the whole time I played WoW I always had the thought in the back of my head "am I addicted to this?" but every single time something came up to do something other than play WoW, I always dropped WoW without even thinking about it, I just ended up playing a lot because other events weren't coming up that much during that time in my life.

I really think internet/video game addition is a symptom of another problem rather than an addiction.

#17 Edited by TheDudeOfGaming (6077 posts) -

Someone needs to start shelters for victims of domestic violence connected to internet addiction! With that said, you can spend too much time on the net or playing video games. But it's not an addiction, even though I certainly play more video games/spend more time on the net than some folks, I can go on days even weeks without my PC. Just so long as I have a way to listen to music that is.

#18 Posted by crusader8463 (14298 posts) -

It's something to do to pass the time and more traditional entertainment bores the hell out of me so I play games more than anything else. I can't help it if I happen to have a lot of free time. Growing up I never got along with other kids because all they ever did was get drunk, play sports or do drugs. None of which I had any interest in doing. Plus I live in the country and was an only child, so there's not much else to do.