Guest Post by Dr. Stephanie Haibloom
About a month ago I was at the annual APA convention being held this year in San Francisco, CA. While there I attended two seminars on video games and their impact on clients. The first seminar was titled “A Clinician’s Guide to Video Games, Social Media, and Other Developing Technologies for Kids and Families”. I was concerned that it was going to be all one-sided and discussing the “horrors” of video gaming and the detrimental effects on our clients due to video games. I was pleasantly surprised! The seminar was a very balanced view of video games and even pointed out the POSITIVE effects of video gaming on clients such as learning to schedule, stronger decision making abilities, positive social aspects, etc. They also discussed the ESRB ratings and making parents aware of them. It was a wonderful seminar and experience.
The second seminar titled “The Duality of Digital Technology-Its Impact on Social Interaction and Internet Addiction” was sadly the opposite of the previous panel. Their “research” was based on anecdotal data and one presenter went so far as to claim that video games cause obesity and rotten teeth in minors! I was appalled to say the least. In the first seminar the obesity issue was brought up and addressed by actual research that showed if gamers have a balance of exercise and gaming in their lives they have less risk of becoming obese. In essence, gaming does not make one obese, lack of exercise does.
“Gaming Disorder” WHO’s new “diagnosis” for gaming was discussed in both seminars. The main thrust of the discussions was: the “symptoms” are very vague and pathologize otherwise normal activities and behaviors. This “disorder” also stigmatizes an entire culture for basically existing! I liked the way the presenters in the first seminar explained the pathology of the “disorder”; if you have a person that loves golfing and he plays golf several times a week, for several hours each time with or without his friends, would he be considered addicted to golf? NO! He would be considered someone who enjoys his hobby/pastime and no one would pathologize him. So why are we pathologizing the entire gamer culture? It would better serve our clients if we as clinicians can become knowledgeable about this culture, teach the parents of our clients to understand the culture, and to stop stigmatizing others because of their hobbies and interests.
Stephanie Haibloom, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills, CA. Dr. Haibloom sees clients from adolescents to adults and specializes in Video Gaming Issues, Depression and Anxiety. Dr. Haibloom is also a NAMA Certified Anger Management Specialist – I. Dr. Haibloom can be reached at 818-835-5198 or through her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/drstephaniehaibloom/ Dr. Haibloom’s favorite video games are the Phoenix Wright series, Cooking Mama, the Final Fantasy series, and the God of War series.