College Students Hooked on Internet, Virtual Gaming
A new study produced by the University of the Rockies shows that it’s surprisingly common for students in colleges around the country to skip classes, get little to no sleep and miss meals due to excessively playing online role playing games. These games, also known as massive multiplayer online role playing games or MMORPGS, can be extremely addictive to children and young adults. Males were shown to be more prone to excessive game play, but the effects of the addiction were the same for both genders.
Sabrina Neu’s doctoral dissertation focused on the link between social anxiety, grade point average, level of boredom, demographic factors and MMORPGS. She found that these large virtual worlds and assumed identities allow players to act out fantasies, which can become very addictive. Participation in these games has exploded over the past decade, with players in the 18 to 30 demographic showing the highest rise. Almost all MMORPGS require some form of payment for full access to the game, producing billions of dollars in profit for these companies from millions of players across the world.
College students now have unlimited, constant access to high speed internet, leading many of them to immerse themselves in virtual worlds rather than face real life challenges like social interaction. However, Neu’s study also showed some potential benefits of gaming. Many players that suffer from social anxiety issues reported that they could interact in the games without feeling shy. Others found previously unknown skills and talents, helped or received help from another player, and developed a new sense of purpose and achievement.
These social benefits do not outweigh the harm for those truly addicted. Many players are neglecting themselves and others to spend more time in the game. Skipping meals, losing sleep and becoming disconnected from real life friends and family members can lead to serious health issues. 42 percent of college students claimed that their gaming had interfered with schoolwork or their job.