In a previous blog, we talked about the pros and the cons of video games. The pros still exist (read that blog) but here we’re diving a little deeper into the dark side of video game addiction.

Are video games interrupting young kids lives?

Over the course of a week, video games are played an average of 20 hours.

Almost three-quarters of American households play video games.
A study revealed that almost 9% of the participants showed signs of video game addiction and about 4% of them exhibited extreme usage of video games as they played for an average of 50 hours in a week.
Young males are more susceptible to video game addiction than females.

Video game addiction is an impulse control disorder that is similar to that experienced by those suffering from gambling addiction.

Perhaps some people are a bit skeptical about the extremity of video game addiction.

The evidence is suggesting there are in fact people who are addicted to video games and with corresponding undesirable consequences.

The reason why video game addiction is now recognized is because of the broader definition of the term, addiction.

In the past, it only referred to cases where some sort of substance was involved.

The scope of addiction is changing. Behaviors that can cause a certain reaction in the brain are being studied and categorized as addictions.

Generally, an addiction is considered if the person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going. OR if the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, he becomes irritable and miserable.

Video game addiction is the repetitive, prolonged, compulsive playing of video games to the point where the person playing is unable to stop or reduce their gaming despite related negative consequences. 

We’re not suggesting everyone who plays video games for extended periods is necessarily at risk for gaming addiction.

However, those who do play video games should remain aware of the amount of time they’re spending on gaming to prevent their behavior from cutting into important obligations.

Gamers should also stay aware of any adverse changes in their health and social functioning that may be caused by gaming so they can seek help when needed, or take the appropriate steps to cut back on gameplay and prevent the onset of serious negative consequences.

When bad enough, those who suffer from video game addiction tend to prioritize video games above all other activities. Tasks and obligations, including personal hygiene, their job, their family, and education.

A person can be diagnosed with video game addiction if they meet any of the following symptoms:

▪ Preoccupation with playing video games, such as thinking or obsessing about previous gaming sessions or future gaming sessions
▪ Feeling the urge to play video games for longer periods of time to achieve euphoria and satisfaction
▪ Being unable to control, reduce, or stop the act of playing video games
▪ Feeling moody, restless, depressed, or irritable when trying to reduce or stop gaming
▪ Playing video games for longer than originally intended
▪ Having jeopardized or risked your job, education, or a significant relationship due to gaming
▪ Lying to friends, family, and therapists surrounding your video gaming activity
▪ Playing video games to escape problems or to relieve negative feelings of guilt, helplessness, anxiety, or depression
▪ Feeling a heightened sense of euphoria when playing video games
▪ Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities so you can play video games
▪ Ignoring or neglecting friends and family to play video games
▪ Neglecting sleep so you can play video games
▪ Other signs of video game addiction include being constantly distracted by video games, only feeling happy when gaming, and spending more time gaming than socializing and interacting with friends and family. Weight gain – Addicts often spend long periods of time sitting in one spot or commonly engage in binge eating or drinking.

Bad posture – Another resulting condition from overuse of video games. It is not uncommon for hardcore gamers to stay in awkward positions for long periods of time which may shorten connective tissue.

Delusions – Addicts have been known to get so engrossed in a game that they can no longer separate it from reality. The line between make-believe and reality starts to blur for them. They sometimes think their avatar is their real self and behave in irrational ways in real life, sometimes hurting themselves and/or others in the process.

It’s important to note none of this is guaranteed. These are just possible side effects it behoove us all to be mindful of.

What can we do about it all?

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you change and modify negative thoughts and behaviors influencing your video game addiction, so you no longer view video games as your only escape from negative feelings like stress, boredom, and depression. 

Wilderness therapy allows you to head outdoors and escape technology so you can boost your confidence and connect with others in meaningful ways that lead to long-lasting friendships.

Group and 12-step therapies teach you how to build new, trusting relationships with peers so you can successfully interact with others on a social level after overcoming your addiction.

Therapies for video game addiction can take place in either an inpatient or outpatient rehab setting, though inpatient treatment is recommended to help you establish a new daily routine minus unhealthy gaming habits. 

Inpatient rehab can help you recover away from access to video games and negative influences in your life who may be contributing to your addiction.