Video games, like anything fun, rewarding, or exciting, can cause a person to become a tad obsessive. But how can you tell whether someone merely enjoys video games more than other activities or whether they have a full-blown addiction?
Does Video Game Addiction Exist?
Most people understand the concept of drug and alcohol addiction, even when they have not dealt with it personally. However, there are situations where gambling, sex, shopping, and even fast foods can become true addictions.
According to a study from the NCBI, “the prevalence of true addiction [to video games], rather than excessive use, is very low.” But it does exist. According a study by Iowa State University, an estimated 1 in 10 youth gamers have video game addiction. Because the condition does exist, there is a reason to be concerned about it. It should be taken into account, though, that there is a difference between addiction and excessive use.
Addiction vs. Excessive Use of Video Games
The excessive use of video games, like anything else, means the use of something that is above the normal amount. But if it is a particular person’s favorite pastime and it doesn’t affect the rest of their life, then it isn’t much of an issue. Excessive playing may be something that bothers other people in the gamer’s life, but it does not mean that they are in trouble. “Adverse [health] effects, when they occur, tend to be relatively minor and temporary” (NCBI), and excessive use of video games can even make a person particularly happy. As stated in the UMD study, “Healthy excessive enthusiasms add to life, whereas addictions take away from it.”
This distinction is what helps show that someone who is addicted to video games is actually in trouble, while someone who merely plays them a lot is not. Addiction is a serious problem that can cause major issues in a person’s life and which often needs treatment to be remedied.
Is It Really Video Game Addiction?
Asking yourself this question can mean the difference between knowing that you are fine and knowing that you should seek help. Often, activities like playing video games become addictions; shopping excessively can become compulsive buying disorder and gambling can quickly turn from a fun activity to a devastating addiction. So how do you know if you are really addicted to video games?
Consider these factors:
- You are only happy when you are playing video games.
- If you cannot play video games, you become incredibly upset, moody, angry, or irritable.
- You constantly neglect responsibilities, hygiene, school, work, and relationships in order to play video games.
- You spend money you don’t have buying video games or spend money that was meant for other things on them (rent, food, etc).
- You have stolen video games, gaming systems, or something else when unable to pay for them, and you justify it with your need to play.
- You feel unwilling or unable to quit playing video games, even if the time you spend on them has consistently caused major problems in your life.
If these statements describe you, especially the final one, you may have a video game addiction.