Video game addiction: How much is too much?


Gaming is dividing some Australian families.

From Fortnite to Candy Crush, for many people video games are a source of entertainment, relaxation, a chance to build friendships or a career.

But for a minority, gaming can be a problem.

With 67 per cent of Australians playing video games, and 97 per cent of households with children having them, this week's episode of Insight asks, “how much is too much? When does video gaming stop being fun?”

Games for all ages

Laurie Darby represents the fastest growing segment of the population new to games - the over 65s. Retired and living alone, she tells Jenny Brockie in an episode to air on Tuesday that she checks in daily with her family and friends by playing word games on her mobile.

Zion, 11, is a gamer.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Zion, 11, loves playing Fortnite with his friends, and his mother, Rosie, works hard to set boundaries around his gaming.

“He has other responsibilities he has to do first, like his homework, and walking and picking up after the dog,” she explains.

Taei Aluni
Gaming has caused tension between Taei Aluni and his partner.

For couple Taei Aluni and Maddelin Walster, video games are a source of tension.

Taei would keep playing if he was allowed to, but Maddelin says he’s “like a vacant partner” when he’s on the games, and it’s affecting their family.

"I was working five days a week doing 10-hour days and I’d probably be getting four hours sleep at the most every night," Taei says. "I was on the high spectrum of gaming."

Gaming statistics
Gaming statistics

In the wake of the World Health Organisation including “gaming disorder” in its latest International Classification of Diseases, Insight considers whether or not it’s the personality of the gamer, or features built into the games themselves, which sees some people become hooked, while others manage to keep it just for fun.

Watch the full Insight episode - Game On - on Tuesday 7 August at 8.30pm on SBS. The program will be available after broadcast via SBS On Demand.

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