Entertainment Anonymous

Whether it be a television show, the latest Call of Duty video game or Netflix, various forms of entertainment are a part of everyday life. With access to these various electronic getaways becoming easier by the second, addiction to them becomes a more real possibility.

Douglas Gentile, a research psychologist from Iowa State University, found that over eight percent of American youth, ages 8 to 18, are addicted to video games, totaling to about three million people.

The influence of entertainment seems to span a lot wider than just video games, however.

A 2012 study done by Nielson, a research company, concluded that the average television watch time for Americans was 34 hours per week.

Santa Monica College student Saul Ascencio feels very strongly about addiction to entertainment.

"I think people do it because they are easily pleased with cheap entertainment," he says. "They don't need to do anything, just sit there."

Ascencio says he was once addicted to entertainment himself, but now pursues other interests.

"I used to play a lot of video games, but not anymore," he says. "Movies cost too much to go out to one, and I don't really use the computer that often. I probably just use my phone the most, but I would rather draw or read. Eventually, we are going to end up like the people in [Pixar movie] Wall-E."

There are support groups available for addictions to types of entertainment, such as Online Gamers Anonymous, an online support group and collective of individuals online who have been affected negatively by video games and offer a safety net to those seeking help. The group is free and even even offers a 12-step recovery program.

Santa Monica College student Adan Gatica watches two hours of television, plays video games for another two and a half hours, and tops off with three hours of internet use — every day.

"I believe people are so addicted to these things so that they can escape from the real world," Gatica says. "A lot is wrong with the world, and TV and the internet help escape from all of the wrong."

While it seems that Gatica over-indulges in entertainment, he realizes that moderation is the best medicine.

"I think moderation is a good thing, actually," he says. "You can get a lot more done when you don't waste time on these things."

According to a 2012 study by the Pew Internet & Research Project, 67 percent of community college students own a desktop computer, 70 percent own a laptop, and 61 percent own a game console – all of which can possibly be used for entertainment purposes.

The survey also provides information on students at four-year colleges and graduate colleges.

While there seem to be a number of entertainment addicts on SMC's own campus, there are also students who feel strongly against addiction to entertainment saturation.

SMC sophomore Gabriel Farada feels strongly about people who have addiction to entertainment.

"People who watch too much TV would have no lives, I think," he says. "They might be antisocial or just have a hard time being more social with people. I might be one of them because I do go to the movies more than I should, though."

Farada says he has a friend who works at an AMC movie theater, allowing him to go to the movies up to twice a week, every week, for free.

"It's a good place to chill with friends, and you could say I'm addicted to good movies," he says.

While Farada can continue his movie going, with possibly no financial burden, he also feels that moderation would benefit not only himself, but all entertainment addicts.

"I think if you do it too much it distracts you from school, going out with friends, or just being productive," Farada says. "I think moderation can be a great thing."