Playing games has been a favorite of children in every generation. Every child loves to get lost in the world of imagination. It helps them develop personalities, learn specific skills, and expand their creativity. Computer games are no exception to this. In fact, for many in current generations, computer games are the best kind to play. However, as many parents are learning, it is possible for their child to become addicted to their video games.
What is a Video Game Addiction
There are those who question whether it is even possible to be addicted to video games. Currently, it is not considered classified of a disorder; however, the American Medical Association is reviewing research to determine if it should be. Regardless of actual distinction, medical professional groups agree that anytime an individual focuses on gaming to the point where it interferes with their relationships, goals, education, and family life, they are struggling with an addiction.
Why Do Teens Become Addicted to Video Games
The teenage years are extremely difficult ones. Teens struggle with their identity, trying to find their place in a harsh social setting. When they are gaming, either on-line with other competitors, or by themselves, they can completely let loose. In these situations, they can be whoever they want to be, creating new personas and acting completely differently than they might in normal social settings. You may have a child is too shy to converse with others on a regular basis, yet they are talking to individuals all over the world who speak their ‘gaming’ language. Teenagers also struggle with control issues. They are at an age where they desire more control over their lives but often do not get their own ways. When they play video games though, they can exercise all the control they need.
Unfortunately, video games are created and designed to be addictive. Gaming manufacturers compete with each other to make their games the most interesting and the most challenging. Teens become hooked on trying to beat the highest score or on becoming different characters. They also thrive on the relationships they make with other gamers.
Consequences of a Gaming Addiction
Being addicted to video games brings a variety of consequences, both physically and socially.
- Migraines – intense concentration is required to play video games long term, as is strain on the eyes.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – continual use of a game controller can cause the nerve in the wrist to be pressed and squeezed.
- Difficulty sleeping – playing video games for long hours each day can cause the brain to become over-stimulated, making it difficult to fall or stay asleep.
Poor Nutrition – as with many other additions, other aspects of life may fall to the wayside, including eating meals.
- Neglect – it is extremely easy to become lost in the world of your game when battling an addiction, often to the point of neglecting yourself and other relationships
Lack of social interaction – teenage years are an extremely social time. Many life skills are learned through the social interactions of teens. For those lost in gaming addictions, many of those social interactions never occur.
Signs and Symptoms of a Video Game Addiction
Although it does not have the distinction of an official disorder, there are specific signs and symptoms many teens may exhibit when they are struggling with an addiction to video games.
- Continually thinking and talking about the video games, including reliving previous gaming moments and planning next ones.
- Lying about the amount of time spent on computers or video game consoles.
- Loss of time spent playing video games.
- Mishandling of funds and money in an effort to buy more games or gaming supplies.
Treatment for Gaming Addictions
If you suspect someone you love is suffering from a video game addiction, it is possible to seek help. Similar to other addictions, treatment programs are excellent places. They have the training necessary to work through the problems, specifically with adolescents in mind. Therapeutic elements are important because very often, teenagers are dealing with other emotional issues in addition to their addiction. Additionally, you may want to help make changes in the home as well. Limit your teen’s access to the computer or video consoles. Make the effort to spend time with your teen and maybe even play a game with them. This will allow you to limit their time as well as give them an opportunity to open up and visit with you. Most importantly, you need to focus on your teen and the fact that they have an addiction. Help them work through it instead of yelling at their behaviors.