I noticed a stream of stories about the AMA considering labeling video game addiction an actual disorder. I find this interesting, simply because comparing “World of Warcraft” to alcohol, sex, and drug addiction is much like comparing smallpox to the common cold.
As with any good story, it’s got a human connection.
Joyce Protopapas of Frisco, Texas, said her 17-year-old son, Michael, was a video addict. Over nearly two years, video and Internet games transformed him from an outgoing, academically gifted teen into a reclusive manipulator who flunked two 10th grade classes and spent several hours day and night playing a popular online video game called World of Warcraft.
Interesting. I wonder how many nights she slept at ease knowing her son was home and not out doing drugs or cow tipping. But once she wanted him to get out of the house, he rebelled and got angry at her. And when she threatened to take away his social network, he became belligerent.
I can understand the “addiction”, so to speak, but it’s not a classic addiction that’s linked to endorphin release. Instead, it’s a social addiction. Michael was having fun playing WoW. He was having more fun than going to high school and dealing with the cliques who mocked his intelligence and shot him down for dates. With WoW, he had a social network, could participate in group activities, chat and solve problems in a group-oriented dynamic.
Now, compare that to a heroin addict who shoots heroin into his veins. Or the crack addict who steals from people for the next hit.
Michael’s a teenager. He’s prone to rebellion, and he obviously doesn’t like the idea of his mother running his life. She shopped through a number of therapists until somebody agreed with her diagnosis while all the rest dismissed her outright.
Now, just to be clear, I played WoW. It is “addictive” because it’s “fun”. I did stop playing mainly because I wasn’t having as much “fun” as I used to. It’s the same reason I stopped smoking crack, shooting heroin, popping amphetamines, doing meth, drinking, and dropping acid. And once you see the ridiculousness of that statement, you’ll understand that we have far more problems with our teens than letting them indulge in a online roleplaying game.
I’d rather have my kids playing WoW than getting in with drug addicts. Ms. Protopapas’ problem is that she didn’t define parameters for her son’s game playing, nor does she really understand what her son is going through.