Computer games are the most popular entertainments in modern societies and they target a variety of people in different ages. The addiction to the rivalry and excitements of the games make them the most common recreational programs for today’s teenagers, so that they do anything to reach a higher level of the game, they immerse in the game so much that they completely separate from their surroundings. Challenging with the obstacles and reaching a higher level in the game, make the players excited and losing the game make them anxious.
Computer games started in 1972 with Pang, a computer tennis game, and then developed in hardware and software systems. Improvement of quality and variety of games increasingly spread it in the society especially adolescences. It is believed that computer games like watching TV provides opportunities for visual learning. Especially because these games are more active compared to watching TV, they are considered more effective. Since these games are known as the second entertainment after TV, opponents of these games emphasize on their negative effects such as stimulating anger and violence, costing a lot of money and having negative effects of physical and mental health, which are much higher than the positive effects of the games such as increasing the coordination of eyes and hands. As Klein and Keepers mentioned in their research reports in 1990, students who prefer computer games to other entertainments have more behavioral problems that other students (cited from Patton).
Currently in Iran, a great part of students’ leisure time out of school is spent on computer games. The reasons for adolescents’ attraction to these games include being excited and easily accessible while authorities and families do not have any proper plan for students’ leisure time and there is not many options for their entertainments. Playing computer games to some extent can be useful, but long-term playing leads to various physical and mental complications. Long term involvement with these games means the players long term tension, restlessness and worrisome and during the game, physical tensions and real physical stimulations are experiences. By sympathetic nervous system stimulation, this can gradually make this system sensitive and ready for response to limited stimulants, while causes anxiety symptoms in the player. A study by Sherry et al (2001) investigating the reasons for playing video and computer games by adolescents and their game priorities on 535 adolescents in age 15-20 in the West USA found that 68% of adolescents had these games as their weekly entertainment. The reasons for playing these games among boys were excitements and challenges and they insisted to win. Moreover, sport and violent games were more attractive for boys.
Development of electronic and computer games are a great threat for youth and adolescents and can lead to psychological disorders and depression in these groups. In previous times, kids were involved playing with other children, but children of today spend most of their time on computer games as soon as they understand and acquainted with them, while these games cannot create any emotional and human relationship.
Children’s and adolescents attractions to the computer games cause many mental, physical and social problems for them. These effects are stimulating anger and violence, obesity, epilepsy due to games, social isolation, and other physical and mental damages. Many psychologists and mental health professionals have paid attention to the effects of these games.
The increasing prevalence of computer games among children and adolescents have made many researchers to determine the effects of these games on players. In Iran, there are few and limited studies on the effects of addiction to computer games on players. Considering the increasing rate of addiction to computer games among Iranian adolescents and youth, the present study was conducted to investigate the effects of addiction to computer games on physical and mental health including physical health, anxiety, and depression and impaired social functioning.
Review of Related Literature
Payne et al (2000) studied the role of computer games on social isolation, low self-esteem and violence. The results showed no relationship between playing computer games and self-esteem in girls, but there was a negative relationship between the two in boys. Also, the scores of violence had a positive correlation with amount of exposure to computer games. Other results showed that in spite of children’s attraction to games, there was no evidence that computer games cause social isolation. Since in computer games, players conform to the characters in the game, in creating the new situations that occur in the game, the theory of participatory modeling and active conditioning can be used in explaining data on violent behaviors and possible rewards they get in response.
Azad Fallah (2001) in their study investigated the relationship between games and social skills of 258 male students of first grade of high school. The results showed a significant relationship between the game-type and presence of others in the game location with social skills of adolescents. Selecting home as the place of game had a significance negative relationship with social skills and those adolescents who were mostly playing at home, had less social skill (cited from Doran). However, in the present study, there was an inverse relationship between addiction to computer games and social dysfunction. It means that as the addiction to computer games increases, social dysfunction will decrease.
Ahmadi (1998) studied the effects of computer games on adolescents of the city of Isfahan. The aim of his study was to find out if computer games have social effects. The results showed that violence and aggression in students who played these games was higher than those who did not play. Also, social participation of students who were playing computer games was low.
STATE OF THE PROBLEM
Today’s generation is growing out to fast because of the modern technology which people are enjoying and at the same time helpful in their everyday lives. The fact that most of the children today tend to choose staying at home playing computer games or any other gadgets instead of playing outside, making friends with other children and exercise their mind and body which is very helpful to their health.
One of the main reasons why students are attracted to computer is because of computer games. Modern technology is now very accessible to people especially students, they can go to computer shops near the school to play and most of it spend the whole time with it and forgot the responsibilities as a student which is one of the disadvantages of playing computer games. Educational computer games can enhance students motivation to learn but it only depends on how they use it.