Boys, Brains, and Video Games

Some researchers are seeing major downward trends in young men and are blaming video games for those problems. Unlike an earlier generation of nay-sayers, these critics are not blaming the issues on the violence and gruesomeness found in some games, but in the nature of the games themselves. Since boys are far more likely to play video games excessively, parents of boys do well to take note of these findings.

The Addictive Tendency

About 9% of youths who play video games are considered to be clinically or pathologically “addicted.” As this addiction is being reported more and more often, it’s being researched more, as well. One study sites these negative results of gaming addiction:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Various social phobias
  • Suffering school performance

In response to the question of correlation versus causation, the type of link is unable to be proven; however, depression and other negative tendencies have been seen to worsen as kids play video games more frequently, whereas these tendencies then lift after gaming is put aside.

With some studies reflecting that teen guys spend an average of 35 hours per week gaming, addiction seems to be a natural result. Consider this definition from one site devoted to helping video game addicts: “Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviors, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.”

The Quest for Novelty

In a CNN article titled after the book “The Demise of Guys,” details regarding the unique nature of video game addiction are explained. The “tech-based buzz” is different than the lure of alcohol, gambling, or drugs, in that the quest is not for more of the same. Like an addiction to pornography, the desire in an arousal addiction is for something different, a surprise. Of course, this tendency is fueling the billion-dollar industries of video games and pornography. But the excessiveness of users, fostered in their virtual world, encourages them in the physical world to become averse to risk-taking and to be ill prepared for the complex nature of real life relationships and careers.

The biological connection is in the limbic center, or pleasure center, of the brain. It controls key aspects of a person’s life—behavior, emotion, and memory. According to the study, pornography and video gaming “traps users into an expanded present hedonistic time zone. Past and future are distant and remote as the present moment expands to dominate everything.”

The Brain Connection

For adolescents, the frontal lobe of the brain is still in its developmental stage; that area is critical regarding controlling impulsive behaviors. The aggression often observed in gamers is not due to the aggressive nature of video games, as previously thought, but is actually due to the stunted growth of the impulse-control center of the brain. According to Japanese brain-mapping experts, this brain-stunting tendency of video games is significant. When self-control is curbed, violent and otherwise problematic behaviors run rampant.

For those desiring to raise godly men who live self-controlled lives of faithful service within their families, churches, and society at large, it seems that it’s best not to let the video console entertain them for hours on end.


  1. Thank you for this article. I knew my son was spending way too much time on video games and was sure it wasn’t good for him. Now I can show him this article and let him read it for his self. Satan will stop at nothing to try to trap our youth.

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