Gaming Addiction
Breaking habits & fulfilling needs in a healthy way.

Gaming Addiction

Breaking habits & fulfilling needs in a healthy way.

It is not uncommon to find your kid sitting in front of the computer, gazing into the screen, insisting that he or she doesn’t have any side effects from spending so much time playing video games. Technology has become an important part of our everyday lives and it added another dimension of having fun – gaming. But do we know when enough is enough?

A recent survey, conducted by research scientist Douglas A. Gentile, has shown that 3,034 children and teenagers spend on average 20 hours per week playing video games and he estimated that 9 percent of the participants showed signs of video game addiction. Even though these numbers are alarming, this problem is still not classified as a standalone disorder. The gaming addiction is yet to come into the spotlight.

Like any other addiction, gaming addiction has vast harmful impacts on our behaviour, cognition and emotions.

Due to the fact that spending time online and using computers/smartphones is a mundane routine for each of us, it is hard to disclose when a casual game or two turns into a compulsory need. This is a new phenomenon, but luckily it has many similarities to other manifestations of addictive behaviours (e.g. gambling), which eases identification of pathological patterns:

  • Loss of control over the amount or frequency of use
  • Craving and compulsive using
  • Continuing despite evidential adverse consequences
  • Feelings of restlessness or irritability when unable to play
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity
  • Focusing on how to spend more time gaming, rather than socializing
  • Lying about time spent in game

 
Looking in a short and a long run, the outcomes of setting this problem aside can lead to severe negative consequences, from isolation from friends and family, to skipping meals, sleep disorders and neglecting personal hygiene. Lack of social engagement, problems with concentration and attention, as well as sedentary life still are also factors that should not be ignored. When it comes to teenagers, the most notable signs are those related to financial and academic aspects – spending money on games and equipment usually rises, while grades and school performance decreases.

We can speculate about reasons why are video games so alluring – is it just a habit pattern, our tendency to procrastinate, wanting to run away from problems, or just a way to tame our insecurities and construct the world and self-image that is more appealing to our standards? Here’s a useful link that will give us a sneak-peak into this new age problem – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHmC2D0_Hdg

When it comes to prevention and helping the teenagers that are displaying addictive behavior, it is still to be agreed upon among experts. In the meantime, we can try to take a step forward from “that’s because you spend so much time in front of the computer” to actually preventing these symptoms to take control:

  • Try to find out why does your kid need to play games – is it just to waste time, to procrastinate, to avoid some unpleasantness’?
  • Encourage him or her to accept responsibility and understand negative impacts of this behavior
  • See if playing video games has a noticeable pattern – when does this routine occur? Ask your child – What are the outcomes? Is there an alternative?
  • Keep track – how many hours are spent on gaming? Make an weekly overview
  • Last but not the least – Set limits and be persistent

 
For more information, feel free to visit websites and read about current trends in providing appropriate help:

http://www.techaddiction.ca/teenagers-addicted-to-computer-games.html

http://www.techaddiction.ca/files/Internet-Gaming-Disorder-Fact-Sheet.pdf

http://www.psychguides.com/guides/video-game-addiction-symptoms-causes-and-effects/

http://drdouglas.org/

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