On August 3, 2005, a young South Korean man in his twenties named Lee Seung Seop played a video game, StarCraft, at an Internet café for almost fifty hours, with only minimal breaks to eat or sleep. His friends found him on the third day suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. He soon collapsed, was taken to the hospital, and died, presumably of heart failure. His friends said he was addicted to gaming and had recently been fired from his job because he had missed work so he could play games. Lee is an extreme example, illustrating the dangers of excessive video gaming.
In 2007, an American Medical Association committee recommended that the group "strongly encourage the consideration and inclusion of 'Internet/video game addiction' as a formal diagnostic disorder in the upcoming revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders." The recommendation sparked heated debate as to whether frequent gaming can or cannot be considered an addiction. No conclusion was reached, and the originating committee referred the recommendation to the American Psychiatric Association instead.
Professionals and parents alike are concerned about the potential for video game addiction in children. Some believe that video games, by their very nature, cause addiction. Others contend that repetition of a pleasurable activity is not necessarily addiction. They believe that most people can play games without the activity detracting from other aspects of their lives.
In this chapter, the viewpoints examine various ways in which video games affect children. Topics of discussion include addiction and time use, whether video games are helpful or detrimental to learning, and the effects of video games on physical activity and obesity in children.