CBN News anchor Mark Martin interviews Dr. Linda Mintle about the obsession with video games. Click the player to watch.
Is video gaming a true addiction? That is a question being debated by professionals worldwide.
Dr. Linda Mintle, a licensed marriage and family therapist and best-selling author, says Internet gaming is looked at differently by national and international health organizations.
Mintle recalled the story of a 23-year-old man who died of a heart condition while playing video games in an internet cafe in Taiwan. There were more than 30 gamers playing around the man and no one noticed what had happened to him for more than nine hours.
"And there's just story after story like that because of the preoccupation and the all-consuming power that some of these games have on some people," Mintle told CBN News.
She also gave three signs to look for if someone has a gaming problem.
1. Have you been struggling with gaming for more than a year? Are you preoccupied with gaming? Does it take precedence over everything else in your life?
2. Does your preoccupation have negative consequences with your life? Is it interfering?
3. Is gaming somehow causing you personal distress? Is it impairing your life in any way?
Mintle also had some advice for parents whose children play video games. Just like other digital media, they really have to pay attention to the number of hours children are playing.
She also said there are a few positive benefits for video games, including hand-eye coordination, and enhanced memory. However, there are also some downsides to this. One of the biggest problems is lack of exercise.
"We have a childhood obesity problem," Mintle explained. 'We need to get kids up and moving and off of digital screens. If you see that it's beginning to interfere in any way with your child's life, just limit the amount of time."
"And certainly look at the games they are playing," she added. "Because some of these games have rewards built into them, so they are a little bit more addicting. You keep working for the reward and that hits a part of the brain that is similar to other addictions where there's a reward pathway that gets activated. So some games may be more addicting than others."
Mintle advises that people just have to be sensible in the digital media world.
"One of the things that people are looking at -- is this really an addiction or a life balance problem?"
"If you tend to think, no anything can be done to the excess. You can be compulsively shopping. You could be compulsively eating. You can do other things to the excess. So whatever it turns out to be there still needs to (be) life balance. You have to pay attention to the whole person. Your physical body, your emotional well-being, your relationships, and certainly your spiritual life."
"But we have to look at our whole life balance," Mintle explained. "Are we really teaching our kids to be in balance? Are we doing that and modeling that as parents?
CBN News asked Mintle if a relationship with Jesus Christ could help overcome the addiction to gaming.
"It can," she replied. "I think that the whole idea that we have the power to overcome, because of the Holy Spirit in us. Certainly, abstinence is one of the ways we change the brain. Sometimes if there is an addictive process going in the brain, you have to remain abstinent with it in order for the brain to rewire and extinguish those pathways that you don't have the compulsive need to play anymore. It's a little more complicated, but certainly praying and asking the Holy Spirit to give you the power to put some balance into your life."