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Video game addiction is a growing concern among professionals, parents, and gamers themselves. As technology becomes more advanced and the games become more lifelike, the potential for children to become addicted and use video games to escape from the real world increases dramatically. In today’s GKIS article, we cover how gamers are offering a solution that is being blocked from public use. You won’t want to miss this one. If you’re concerned about the effects video games are having on your child, Dr. Bennett’s Social Media Readiness Online Course will give you the answers you are looking for!

What is Skyrim?

Skyrim is the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series of games. This game is considered an “Action RPG,” which is a fancy way of saying that participants spend a really long time creating and building a character who maneuvers through an almost never-ending adventure in an extremely large, detailed virtual world. The creator of Skyrim, Bethesda Game Studios, has recently been purchased by Microsoft.

Bethesda has reportedly sold over 30 million copies of Skyrim in 2021, making it one of the most successful games ever created.[1] Skyrim has a rating of “mature” and is not recommended for younger children due to the blood and gore, sexual themes, use of alcohol, and intense violence.[2] Skyrim is so captivating for some gamers that they are falling into the trap of gaming addiction.

The Negative Consequences of Gaming Addiction

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a mental illness that affects and alters our natural endorphins (our feel-good hormones). Endorphins are released when we do something exciting like exercise, gaming, or using addictive drugs. Also, when we get hooked on endorphins we often skip behaviors we need for healthy functioning like nutrition and rejuvenating sleep. In Dr. B’s Connected Family Online Course, she explains the huge role that sleep plays in staying healthy and happy and offers solutions. Without rejuvenating sleep, it is difficult to maintain balance and can lead to other problems.

Other negative consequences to gaming include clinically impairing:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • AD/HD
  • self-harm
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • oppositionality
  • social withdrawal
  • obesity
  • suicidality
  • personality disorders[3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

In her book, Screen Time in the Mean Time, Dr. Bennett adds:

Not only are there behavioral and psychological consequences to IGD, neuroimaging studies have found evidence of distinct neurobiological changes similar to those seen in subjects with substance addictions.[11, 12] More specifically, IGD subjects show gray and white matter atrophy (loss of tissue volume) and reduced cortical thickness in various areas of the brain as well as changes to the brain’s pleasure center – like excessive dopamine release and less dopamine receptor availability.[13, 14, 15] The patterns of brain activity while playing reflects how heavy-use players process rewards and losses differently than nonplayers, which may lead to riskier or more cautious decision-making overall.[16]

A Cool New Gamer-Created Solution to Addiction

As games get more and more addictive, gamers are starting to share their experiences and crowdsource for solutions.

Recently, gamer ThatLittleCommie created a solution to help addicted players quit Skyrim using a mod. Mods are game modifications that are created by players and offered on gaming sites for free download. Usually, mods extend the player’s experience. But NoSkyrim (the name of ThatLittleCommie’s mod) does the opposite. It makes the game unplayable so that addicted players can cut off their supply at the source. With the help of NoSkyrim, addicted players can force themselves to quit cold turkey.

Nexus Mods Banned NoSkyrim

Here’s the problem for NoSkyrim. If people stop playing addictive games, then they stop visiting mod websites. Therefore, by helping people to cure their addiction, the NoSkyrim mod is potentially affecting the website’s profit. We suspect that loss of profit is the reason that Nexus Mods, the website where players go to download mods, banned NoSkyrim.

This has not been a popular move for Nexus Mods customers. In the eyes of gamers, the website was putting money ahead of the health of their fellow gamers. This led to several petitions and Reddit forums set up to spread awareness of the dangers of video game addiction. Smaller websites have begun to make NoSkyrim available to players, but the larger websites like Nexus Mods refuse to budge.

How to Protect Your Children from Online Addiction

Leaving kids to regulate on their own is not an effective strategy in most families. Big tech’s manipulative design for devices and games makes management challenging. Here are some ways you can support your kids for healthier gaming:

  • Provide your kids with real-world activities to maintain an offline/online balance.
  • Spend more time as a family on- and offline.
  • Research games and online activities that your child is interested in before you allow a probationary period.
  • Pay attention to ESRB ratings.
  • Check out Dr. Bennett’s online courses! There is the Screen Safety Toolkit for management resources and the Connected Family Course for rules and tools for a safe home setup.

Dr. B is in a unique position to help you to learn more about the dangers that children face when engaging in online activities and to help you to navigate safely throughout your journey as a practicing psychologist, university professor, and mother. In Dr. B’s book, Screen Time in the Mean Time, she discusses and attacks the issue of video game and online addiction and gives advice on how to protect your children from all things screen-related in a productive manner. Also, you can download the free GKIS Connected Family Agreement and get weekly blog articles simply by making a GKIS account on our website home page.

Thanks to CSUCI intern, Michael Watson for researching video game addiction and the ways in which gamers are solving the problem themselves.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited

[1] Christian Gaca. (2016). Skyrim has sold 30 million copies worldwide. Gamereactor. https://www.gamereactor.eu/skyrim-has-sold-30-million-copies-worldwide/

[2] Entertainment Software Association. (2021). Elder Scroll V: Skyrim. ESRB. https://www.esrb.org/ratings/31575/The+Elder+Scrolls+V%3A+Skyrim/

[3] Black, D., Belsare, G., & Schlosser, S. (1999). Clinical features, psychiatric comorbidity, & health-related quality of life in persons reporting compulsive computer use behavior. J Clin Psychiatry 60(12):839–844.

[4] Ha, J., Yoo, H., Cho, I., Chin, B., Shin, D., & Kim, J. (2006). Psychiatric comorbidity assessed in Korean children & adolescents who screen positive for Internet addiction. J Clin Psychiatry 67(5):821–826.

[5] Kaess, M., Durkee, T., Brunner, R., Carli, V., Parzer, P., & Wasserman, C. (2014). Pathological Internet use among European adolescents: psychopathology & self-destructive behaviours. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 23(11):1093–1102.

[6] Ko, C., Yen, J., Chen, C., Yeh, Y., & Yen, C. (2009). Predictive values of psychiatric symptoms for internet addiction in adolescents: a 2-year prospective study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 163(10): 937–943.

[7] Lin, I., Ko, C., Chang, Y., Liu, T., Wang, P., & Lin, H. (2014). The association between suicidality & Internet addiction & activities in Taiwanese adolescents. Compr Psychiatry 55(3): 504–510.

[8] Liu, M., Ming, Q., Yi, J., Wang, X., Yao, S. (2016). Screen time on school days & risks for psychiatric symptoms & self-harm in mainland Chinese adolescents. Frontiers In Psychology [serial online]. April 25, 2016;7Available from: PsycINFO, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 11, 2017.

[9] Mehroof, M. & Griffiths, M.D. (2010). Online gaming addiction: the role of sensation seeking, self-control, neuroticism, aggression, state anxiety, & trait anxiety. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 13(3): 313–316.

[10] Shapira, N., Goldsmith, T., Keck, P., Khosla, U., & McElroy, S. (2000). Psychiatric features of individuals with problematic internet use. J Affect Disord 57(1–3): 267–272.

[11] Fauth-Buhler, M., & Mann, K. (2017). Neurobiological Correlates of Internet Gaming Disorder: Similarities to Pathological Gambling. Addictive Behaviors, vol. 64, 349–356.

[12] Yuan, K., Qin, W., Wang, G., Zeng, F., Zhao, L., & Yang, X. (2011). Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder. PLoS ONE 6(6): e20708.

[13] Kim, S., Baik, S., Park, C., Kim, S., Choi, S. & Kim, S. (2011). Reduced Striatal Dopamine D2 Receptors in People with Internet Addiction. NeuroReport 22.8: 407-11. Web.

[14] Koepp, M., Gunn, R., Lawrence, A., Cunningham, V., Dagher, A., Jones, T., Brooks, D., Bench, C., & Grasby, P. (1998). Evidence for striatal dopamine release during a video game. Nature 393: 266-268.

[15] Kühn, S., Romanowski, A., Schilling, C., Lorenz, R., Mörsen, C., Seiferth, N., & Banaschewski, T. (2011). The Neural Basis of Video Gaming. Translational Psychiatry 1: e53.

[16] Dong, G. Hu, Y., & Lin, X. (2013). Reward/punishment sensitivities among internet addicts: Implications for their addictive behaviors. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 46, 139–145.

Photo Credits

Photo by Ralston Smith (https://unsplash.com/photos/zc9pWsPZd4Y)

Photo by Pragii (https://unsplash.com/photos/pX829a6ObhE)

Photo by Eric Mclean (https://unsplash.com/photos/qgInQSplXBU)

Thanks to Kent Williams for the beautiful painting used for the thumbnail.  (https://www.kentwilliams.com/paintings/2018/8/16/2018/8/16/m-w)