Video Game Addiction

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Video games are a common entertainment option in households throughout the country. Unfortunately, the risk for excessive use that leads to negative consequences is ever increasing. It’s important for people to recognize that video game addiction can have just as many negative effects as any drug or alcohol addiction if left untreated.

Gaming has grown into a multibillion dollar industry that attracts billions of children and adults who are looking for the thrill and action that comes with playing a game either online, on a handheld device or on the television. Some people become addicted to the process of gaming, and play for many hours each day, neglecting their health, relationships, jobs and other vital aspects of life.

What is Video Game Addiction?

Compulsive video game addiction is a modern-day psychological disorder that is becoming more and more popular and thus more and more a problem. Young people, teens, young adults and even older adults have become increasingly overly hooked on video games and as a result of this video game addiction have lacked on important priorities such as caring for themselves, performing school or home work or socializing with others. Some studies suggest that gaming is absolutely taking over the minds of children all together. According to the US National Library of Medicine, gaming addiction is a behavioral problem that is described by a preoccupation with gaming, the ability of gaming to modify a person’s mood, the development of tolerance, the presence of withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of gaming, and the development of interpersonal conflict because of gaming.

Video game addiction is characterized by the following signs:

Defining the Video Game Addiction

Most addictions, such as substance abuse addictions have a set ability to be defined based on use of a substance alone. Unfortunately, video game addiction cannot be defined quite so easily. It can take more than just insight into one’s ability or enthusiasm in a video game to define it as an addiction. A true video game addiction is a compulsive disorder, a clinical impulse to play a video game. Psychiatrist Michael Brody defines video game addiction as:

These signs are really no different than those present with a substance abuse addiction and in may ways, compulsive video gaming can be treated using similar methods that are used to treat substance abuse. Compulsive gaming not only has many of the same signs as substance abuse addictions or problems, it also has many withdrawal symptoms or stages that come when the addict stops playing video games such as insomnia, anger, violent behaviors and other disorders most of which are treatable with time and therapy. According to the National Academic Advising Association, an excessive gaming problem becomes an addiction when it is used to change a person’s mood.

Could my Teen be Addicted to Video Games?

Many questions surround video game addiction. How much time is too much to spend online or playing a video game? What actions are more prevalent to signify a video game addiction over others? All of these questions and the subsequent answers will be different from one individual to the next. Some can play video games for hours one day followed by long periods of not playing while others find themselves essentially glued to the gaming system from sun up until sun down.

Recognizing Signs of Video Game Addiction in Teens:

Harmful Effects of Video Game Addiction

Just like any other addiction, video game addiction or gaming addictions do have many harmful effects. Not only do video game addictions prevent kids and adults from spending quality time with their loved ones or with friends of their age to gain social skills, many other adverse effects can result from a video game addiction.

Some of the harmful effects of video game addiction include:

Video games are a complex, detailed and compelling interactive activity. When play properly, with moderation, there is little chance that a video game will cause addiction or adverse health reactions. However, when gaming is taken to the extreme and limitations are placed on the level of interaction an individual has with others, a problem and the potential need for treatment arises.

A report from Bryn Mawr College shows the possibility that an addiction to video games can lead to aggressive behavior, especially in children, though it does mention that the causality of that relationship is unclear.

How Parents Can Control or Limit Risk of Gaming Addiction

Many steps can be taken to control a child or teen’s access to video games. These steps can help to limit the risk that appears when an individual plays video games. For instance, many games are intelligent and imaginative and these games tend to be more educational and appropriate for younger children. Additionally, even games that are educational should be limited and restrictions should be placed on the number of hours a child may play a game, the number of game play days each week and other aspects.

Some steps you can take to prevent vgameplay addiction in your child or teen include:

Treatment for Video Game Addiction

Many methods of treatment can be found to help those who are addicted to video games to stop the cycle of gaming and get on the right track to social and emotional recovery. Because many video game addictions are the result of an inept social being or the result of masking emotions, most treatment methods revolve around helping the teen, child or adult to become more social, overcome negative emotions and reduce boredom by finding more productive things to do. In many ways, treatment for video game addiction is treated that same way as the treatment for any other addiction such as a substance abuse problem or a alcoholism.

Counseling is common in the treatment of video game addiction and provides a foundation for recovery success. Through various methods of counseling – inpatient and outpatient, the patient is able to learn how to cope with their stress and the triggers that would normally cause them to use video games as an escape.

The methods that are taught will largely depend on the patient and their individual needs but may include:

In addition to these methods, a study published in the US National Library of Medicine showed the potential effectiveness of a drug called Bupropion for treating gaming addiction.

Intervention Methods to Treat Gaming Addiction

Many methods exist to intervene when a game addiction is at hand.

The most common methods of intervention for the treatment of video game addiction include:

Dual Diagnosis and Video Game Addiction

As with any addiction, dual diagnosis is a common problem. Many people who suffer from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or even to video games, also suffer from one or more mental illnesses. The combination of both mental illness and addiction leads to what is known as dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is difficult to treat because there must be treatment provided for both the mental health condition and for the addiction at the same time. Treating just one or another will not lead to a full recovery.

Many treatment centers are prepared to offer treatment for dual diagnosis by providing medical care and therapy for the underlying mental illness such as anxiety, depression or other mental illness as well as therapeutic care and detox for addictions. Many video game addictions are the result of anxiety, depression or a similar mental health condition that makes it difficult for the child to interact socially. Treatment centers can help alleviate this anxiety and teach the child to interact on a social level with other children who are of a similar age.

According to the University of Missouri, dual-diagnosis is common in cases where individuals are addicted to video games as the risk factors contributing to the disorder are most often social escapism and virtual social interaction. These contribute to and result from different forms of anxiety and other mental health problems.