Causes and Effects of Gaming Addiction on Our YouthSome health issues in children and adolescents may be the effects of the ever growing gaming industry and an addiction that for some, cannot be controlled. Gone are the days of children playing outside with neighborhood friends until the sun goes down. Gaming has become one of the most popular ways to pass time and for some it has become the latest addiction of this generation. Some gamers have the ability to refrain from endless hours of video game play, but for many it controls their everyday lives. “Video games are a ubiquitous part of almost all children’s and adolescents’ lives, with 97% playing for at least one hour per day in the United States.” (Granic, Lobel, & Engels 2014) What causes gaming addiction in children and adolescents? What are the risk of being addicted to gaming?Being addicted to gaming is no accident. Video games are designed to make the player want to keep playing. “These games are deliberately designed, with the help of psychology consultants, to make players want to keep playing, and they are available on every platform — gaming consoles, computers, smartphones.” (Gibson 2016) There are a few ways that a game designer can manipulate the gamer. The game graphics and eye catching colors can mesmerize any gamer. Leveling up in a game can make it a challenge for the player to keep playing. Rewarding players is another way the game designer draws in a player. For every level up a player receives the player will be rewarded with gifts that can be used to keep playing. The design of the game draws the player in and makes them want to play more. The subject matter of a game can often lure in a child or adolescent. Designers often use violence or sex to draw the gamer in. Small children are lured in by pets and other subjects that they love. “Webkinz (Nickelodeon) threatens to take away kids’ pets if subscriptions lapse, and also to inflict illness and unhappiness on pets if their owners do not visit the site regularly to feed and play with them. A game of virtual reality can fill a void that a child or adolescent might be feeling in reality.” (Bakan 2011) The design of a game is not the only way a child or adolescent can be drawn to a game.Social gaming can draw the child or adolescent into gaming. The gamers sometimes lack social skills and turn to gaming to feel companionship. These children and adolescents may have a home life that they are trying to escape from or may have a lack of friends. In a virtual game the player can become someone else. The gamer can live a totally different life than the one reality has to offer. Using social media and other outlets players can help each other and play together without making any physical contact whatsoever. Playing with other gamers can make the player fill obligated to play longer. According to social games creator Kristian Segerstrale. “Things like love, friendship, competition and envy among friends are far more powerful than the emotions between you and just a game.” says Bakan. We know the tricks of the gaming industry that lure children and adolescents into indulging their addiction. But what do we know about the health risk that a gaming addiction can cause? Video game addiction may result in a decline in overall health and hygiene. Gamers that play video games for long periods of time can go hours without eating and other everyday needs like bathing and brushing their teeth. An addicted gamer will hold bowel movements as long as he or she can rather than stop gaming. Obsessive gamers tend to stay stagnant rather than getting exercise and enjoying physical activities. Gamers will eat junk food that is easily accessible rather than choosing to eat healthy foods. The lack of nutrients and exercise can have a negative effect on a young child’s physical development. Gamers sit for long periods of time which can also cause physical damage. “Sitting in one position for a prolonged period affects posture and the musculoskeletal system, leading to reported aches and pains. Neglecting normal diet and hygiene in order to give more time to playing computer games can also cause reported physical symptoms.” (Zamani, Chashmi, & Hedayati 2009)Compulsive gaming can not only have an effect on a child’s physical health, but it can also affect mental health. “Addiction to computer games affects various dimensions of health and increases physical problems, anxiety and depression, while decreases social functioning disorder.” (Zamani, Chashmi, & Hedayati 2009) “Studies showed that computer games increase a player’s’ heart beats to a level more than their body request. In the present study also, we found a direct significant relationship between addiction to computer games and anxiety.” (Zamani, Chashmi, & Hedayati 2009)The causes of video game addiction are complex and can vary greatly, but the effects can be serious. Playing video games can and should be a fun activity for all to enjoy. But just like everything else, the amount of time one spends playing video games needs to be balanced with personal and social responsibilities. It is ultimately a responsibility of the parent to limit the amount of time that a child spends gaming and to make sure that he or she is getting plenty of exercise and eating healthy foods.