Since Space Invaders, parents have been concerned about their children’s video game habits.

Now that teens and young adults have access to online video games from a wide range of mobile devices, parents are worried that their children will develop unhealthy addictions to gaming which could potentially lead to other compulsive behaviour later on in life.

Why Gaming?

Educators have determined a number of reasons why young adults and teenagers are likely to develop compulsive behaviour when it comes to online gaming. They noted that juniors in college and secondary school make up the biggest population of online gamers, as the activity presents a unique social outlet.

The transition to a new school can be difficult for many individuals, with social anxiety and bullying being issues that many teens encounter. Online gaming provides the kind of safe social experience that they are not getting from school.

Why Now?

Video games have never been so popular. Billions of teens around the world own smartphones and their own laptop computers, gaining access to the online world of gaming easily. There is no longer the need to purchase an expensive video game console or a gaming computer in order to access online games. So the number of online gamers has certainly increased.

While compulsive online gaming has become a significant problem, the activity is still not inherently addictive. It is the the 24-hour access to games is what concerns many parents.

They are wary that their children are able to continue playing online games on their phones even after they’ve said they have stopped. This results in a lack of sleep, which researchers fear leads to depression, and potential neglect of school and other essential responsibilities.

Will It Lead to Problem Gambling?

Parents and teachers are worried that since teens are displaying compulsive gaming behaviour at a young age, it will be carried with them into adulthood. The closest activity to online gaming is gambling, and it is feared that children playing Call of Duty online will turn into adults spending thousands of dollars on roulette.

However, there is no correlation between the two – at least, not yet. Compulsive gaming could lead to other downfalls, though.

The lack of sleep that players suffer from could lead to depression, while neglecting school or work could lead to failing grades or getting fired from their jobs.

So, What’s The Solution?

Educators do not recommend trying to take gaming devices away from gamers. While some parents are tempted to take away the modem or their child’s smart phone, there are other ways to go about it.

Since the need for social interaction is the key to the success of online gaming, parents should consider piquing their children’s interest in group activities.

Parents should also be accepting of the fact that gaming can be an important social activity; so, gamers may be spending their time online interacting as opposed to gaming, ruling out the potential for future gambling addiction.