How do Video Games Affect the Mental Health of Young Adults

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Video games can have a major impact in people’s lives, but especially in the lives of minors. They have been known to take a large role in young adults lifestyles and can be a large reason for how someone can act. Our mental health affects how we think, act, and feel. Mental health is of vital importance in every person’s life and at every stage of life. How do video games affect our mental health? What positive and negative influences do they have on a young adult’s psyche? The most commonly identified issues among adolescents because of video games are depression, a lower performance rate in school, anxiety, and social phobias.

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Video Games and Mental Health

Video games are not necessarily a bad thing at all, but an addiction to them can be very harmful. Studies have shown that teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18 who use the internet and video games more excessively than others are twice as likely to become or are depressed. According to the American medical association, up to about 90% of teens play video games. As many as 15% of them get addicted as well. Not only would depression wreck their mental health, but their physical health would also be affected by, for example, a lack of sleep or refusal to eat.

Impact on Academic Performance

Young adults that play video games constantly tend to perform more poorly in school than those who do not. As bad as this can tend to be, it is proven that computer gaming has a very, very large negative impact on students’ grades. This is because kids spend hours a day playing games in class rather than doing schoolwork. There was a study that found that teenagers who only played computer games less than once a week were more successful in school and in the classroom than those who played them twice a day or more.

Video Games and Anxiety & Social Phobias

Anxiety is the closest disorder related to playing video games. Excessive gaming can worsen social anxiety and behavior. Those who are addicted to video games can increase their interaction with friends, but the family decreases and can cause a large separation within the home. It is harder to interact with the real world when video games take over your life. Some minors use the excuse that they play so many video games to try to escape their anxiety symptom, but in reality, it only makes it worse and stresses out their life so much more than before. This is a very common thing that happens to adolescents that play excessive video games.

Video games have more recently been contributing to this new generation having socially awkward young men and women. These people feel more comfortable reacting to a television screen than being in the company of other humans. Social phobias is an intense anxiety or fear of being negatively evaluated, judged, or rejected in a social or performance situation. This is all closely related back to symptoms like depression and anxiety because of the fear of being judged by others. Social anxiety disorder evidently can ruin lives and can cause devastation to those who suffer from it.

The Positive Side of Gaming

Even though video games can cause many cons, there are also many pros. Video games improve basic visual processes, are proven to occasionally ease anxiety and depression, improve brain function, and they can also teach kids how to work as a team. But other than the cons that I have not already mentioned, video games can hurt your chances of future job skills, can cause violence, and in the long term, can hurt a person’s personal health.

The Extreme Impact: A Case Study

Daniel Petric has a criminal record due to shooting both his parents because his father took away a copy of the video game “Halo 3.” He shot and killed his mother, but his father survived and was badly injured. This all started because his parents refused to buy him the game. They believed that the content of the video game was too extreme in tone for a boy because of his age. Petric eventually played the game anyways when he was introduced to it at a friend’s house. He would end up sneaking out of the house late at night quite frequently to play this game and also started purchasing more and more violent video games. His father said that it got so basic that he would play games for up to 18 hours at a time. Petric’s screen time got out of hand, and that is when his parents confiscated the game from him. He eventually ended up breaking into his dad’s safe, where his video game was hiding, as well as a handgun. He later proceeded to sneak up on his parents when they were relaxing on the couch and shot each of them. This is one of the most sick and psychotic stories that has ever happened as a result of video games taking over someone’s mind. It is a prime example of how video games can reprogram an individual’s mind and take over their whole life.

Conclusion: Weighing the Impacts

Overall, video games have more of a negative impact than anything. No positive impacts can overcome all of the effects that video games can have on a young adult. Depression, a lower performance rate in school, anxiety, and social phobias are all symptoms that can really tear down a person and ruin their future, video games can cause all of these to happen, and it does not seem worth the risk.

Works Cited

  1. Ferguson, C. J. (2015). Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of Video Game Influences on Children’s and Adolescents’ Aggression, Mental Health, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646–666.
  2. Gentile, D., Bailey, K., Bavelier, D., Brockmyer, J. F., Cash, H., Coyne, S. M., … & Green, C. S. (2017). Internet gaming disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 140(Supplement 2), S81-S85.
  3. Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(4), 772.
  4. Rehbein, F., Kliem, S., Baier, D., Mößle, T., & Petry, N. M. (2015). Prevalence of internet gaming disorder in German adolescents: diagnostic contribution of the nine DSM-5 criteria in a state-wide representative sample. Addiction, 110(5), 842-851.
  5. Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 66.
  6. Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological science, 12(5), 353-359.
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How do Video Games affect the Mental Health of Young Adults. (2023, Jun 18). Retrieved from