Riddle me this… how addicted to your phone are you? From tech neck to eye strain, there are plenty of problems that people face in their pursuit of the screen. Likewise, gaming can be addictive – from Call of Duty to blackjack, whether motivated by glory or ‘gold’, the opportunities to get sucked in are strong in some people and negligible in others.
In this chicken or egg scenario, we explore whether mobile gaming increases the chance of developing or adding to addictive behavior, or perhaps it’s the flip side of the coin. And while it’s a heavier comparison, it’s worth noting the furore many decades ago when school shooters were being associated with being influenced by the music of Marilyn Manson…
How does addiction work?
Addiction isn’t something that you can reliably predict. It’s a factor of many factors: genetic makeup, childhood, brain chemistry at a given period, current life circumstances… the list goes on.
That being said, addiction happens to many of us, in many different forms. Smokers or vapers are addicted to nicotine. Alcoholics are addicted to the drink. Drug addicts have their drug of choice that they can’t resist. Sex addicts need a body.
The popularity of mobile casinos shows no signs of slowing down. Thus such a huge supply reflects the high demand. But does mobile gambling increase the tendency of gambling harm?
Does one addiction lead to another?
Is marijuana a gateway drug? This question is an indirection if ever we heard one. While marijuana is typically a drug that is more popular and easy to obtain than others, that doesn’t mean that it’s a stepping stone on the way to other drugs or pastimes. If heroin was more popular and readily available, we might even see the saying reversed.
Being addicted to one thing does not equal becoming addicted to something else, although co-addictions are quite common.
Who gets caught up in addiction?
Anyone can get caught up in addiction, from you, to your favorite aunt, your straight-as-lace neighbor, to the kid next to you in school. Addiction doesn’t discriminate by age, race, background, or social status. It truly can happen to anyone.
However, there are some traits that are more likely to coincide with addiction. These include, but are not limited to, people with:
Mental health conditions
A family history of addiction
Childhood neglect or abuse
A young introduction to the drug/practice
Gaming addiction in 2022
While there are the old tropes of addiction – housewives addicted to Xanax, rock stars addicted to cocaine – gaming is a little different.
Typically, in the past, gaming addiction was generally only associated with young males; teens to those in their early 20s. This would likely be a fairly interactive gaming addiction, something with a huge following such as World of Warcraft or CounterStrike.
These days, people in their 70s can be addicted to Candy Crush, and 3% of gamers worldwide have an addiction, according to research in 2020.
Gaming addiction itself is not outlined in the DSM-V, the bible of mental disorders. Nevertheless, it is a widely recognized addiction both in medical settings as well as with the wider public. Just because it is not classified as a mental disorder, does not make it any less real. In fact, the World Health Organisation, in 2019, defined Gaming Disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases.
Gaming addiction vs gambling addiction
Gaming addiction is different to gambling addiction, even if the two may look spookily similar in some circumstances. For instance, someone addicted to online slots is likely a gambling addict rather than a gaming addict, although the case could be made for both. If someone is playing slots for fun rather than for money, then they may be a gaming addict. However, if it’s for money, then it is more likely to be for the thrill of winning more money.
So, does mobile gaming increase the likelihood of addictive behaviors?
The practice of mobile gaming could indicate that a person may have addictions later, although it’s certainly not a given. As detailed above, if a younger person is gaming in addictive patterns, then this is something to keep an eye on. Since there are no studies that are able to prove causation in addiction – only correlation – it would not be true for us to draw a conclusion that mobile gaming increased the propensity for addictive behavior.
If you feel like you or someone you know may have addictive behaviors when it comes to gaming or other practices, it’s best to seek out assistance with the addictions government body in your area.