Video Game Addiction
Video games are bigger and better than ever. They are also more widely available and that, along with the fact that children are spending more time playing games than ever, is why video game addiction is now a very real and very serious problem.
In this guide to video gaming addiction we’ll ask if video games are addictive and if so, how can addiction to them be treated? We’ll look at all aspects of this addiction and we’ll hopefully show you how to spot addiction in yourself and in others. This could be a game-changer and an eye-opener, so if this is a hot topic for you right now then make sure you take all of the following in.
Are Video Games Addictive?
There is no physical addiction to video games. In other words, they won’t hook you like heroin or meth would. But video gaming addiction is very real and this is a psychological addiction that can be debilitating.
The reason video games are addictive is because they stimulate pleasure centers in our brains. It is the way that many modern games are designed. In fact, the reason that many video gaming addictions occur with mobile games and social media games is because these are the games designed purely to trigger the reward centers in our brains. They do this by offering small rewards for a lot of work, by allowing you to compare yourself to other players and friends, and by adding that element of social competition.
Many other games do this of course, but video gaming addictions are more common with social gaming, mobile gaming and online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft.
Gaming Addiction Treatment
Gaming addiction is not as well understood as things like alcohol addiction. As a result, it can be difficult to treat. In most cases, it’s best to look at the individual, determining if they have any underlying issues and whether or not these need to be addressed first.
Many video game addicts will also be addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. They may also be suffering from mental health issues. These will need to be addressed before the addiction can be properly treated, as is the case with most addictions. When treatment begins it is also best to taper slowly as opposed to going cold turkey.
Addicts should set themselves targets every day, limiting their play time gradually. When they are not playing they should be doing stuff that will reward the pleasure centers of their brain in a similar way to video games. If they don’t then they will crave that fix and may turn to more harmful activities.
Board games are a good solution, as is reading (choose-your-adventure books in particular), quizzes and even music. It’s that natural stimulation that you need, giving your brain a rush of those feel-good chemicals without submitting to your addiction.
Signs of Video Game Addiction
The main sign of video gaming addiction is spending a lot of time playing a game. But obviously there are degrees and an obsession with a game is not enough to classify someone as a gaming addict. There is a line, with passion on one side and obsession and addiction on the other. Typically, someone who has crossed that line will suffer from the following issues, but a lack of one or more of these signs does not mean that someone does not have a gaming addiction:
- Tiredness and Fatigue
- Regular Headaches Related to Eye Strain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/Repetitive Strain Injury
- Poor Hygiene and Living Conditions
- Restlessness and Irritability
- Social Isolation
- Preoccupation with Games (may dream about it, see it everywhere)
How to Spot Video Game Addiction
The main thing to look out for when you suspect video gaming addiction is spending an excessive amount of time on a video game. This is not necessarily abnormal in patches. Many teenagers have had moments when they have been obsessed with a certain game or console and have spent countless hours on it over the course of a few weeks. However, if this expands into several months and begins to eat into their social life and their personal hygiene, then it becomes a problem.
You should also be looking for signs that the person is sacrificing their health just to play the game or games of choice. If they do not have a job and much of a social life then they may choose to play a lot of computer games and this is technically not video gaming addiction (although it could still be a sign of a deeper problem such as depression). However, if the game begins to take priority over their sleeping and eating, if they turn down invitations to go to social events and ignore phone calls and doorbells just to continue playing, then it could be a sign of video gaming addiction.
There are gaming rehabs centers around the world, but these tend to exist more in countries like South Korea and less in the west. For too long video game addictions have been ignored as a real illness and only now is that beginning to change. Still, even now you will still be shunned by many healthcare professionals if you live in certain European countries or even in North America.
There are facilities setup to cater for video game addicts and if you have the money to pay high private healthcare fees, they are at your disposal. But if you walk into a clinic in rural parts of the US and UK and claim to have a video game addiction, you will most likely be diagnosed with depression, anxiety or even agoraphobia. In other words, the true problem will be overlooked. In fact, many addicts have reported being told that they were just lazy and that they needed to snap out of it.
That’s never good advice.
Other Forms of Computer Addiction
There are many addictions that take place in the online setting. People are addicted to online games, as discussed already, but they can also get addicted to Facebook, Twitter and even to forums. There are also addictions relating to computers.
This may sound hard to believe and there are certain people who will readily dismiss these clams. You can’t be addicted to anything that is not a drug, they claim. If we are talking about purely physical addictions then that is true, but it’s more than that. Dismissing these computer addictions out of hand is just as callous as dismissing mental health problems purely because they don’t produce physical symptoms.
After all, video games, social networks and other activities relating to computers all lock the person in a state of addiction, whereby they feel like they can’t stop, that they would suffer if they did stop. They also feel the weight of their addiction at all times. It affects their mental health, their social life and, eventually, their physical health. These addictions are real and should not be dismissed.
After all, cannabis addiction is very real as well, yet we know there are no physical reasons for that addiction to exist. The body of an addict doesn’t crave it like it does other drugs, but it’s still a genuine addiction and such is the case with computer addictions.
Negative Effects of Video Games
There are many negative effects of playing video games that don’t relate to video gaming addiction. We like to be realistic here on Addictive Addiction. We don’t spread misconceptions and we’re not here to steer you away from everything and claim that all drugs are the devil and that all addicts are his minions. That’s not true and we know that video games are not as bad as certain generations claim.
We do not believe that they can create serial killers or mass murderers. They may be responsible for triggering psychotic reactions in individuals who were already in that state of mind, but that trigger could have easily come from music, TV, films or friends and family if video games were there.
However, this issue aside, there are negative effects of video games. These include problems with eye strain and headaches. It also includes limited social ability as those who play games excessively tend to shut themselves of from the world, limiting social interaction and therefore reducing their ability to function in the wider world.
At the same time though, multiplayer games can help those with social issues to improve their social skills. Games can also improve dexterity, they can teach people things they wouldn’t learn in any other environment and they can also help with puzzle solving abilities and other cognitive functions. It’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either.
Video game addiction, however, is mostly bad and it’s a line that you do not want to cross.