Does it seem like a member of your family has a video game addiction? According to the University of New Mexico, 6 to 15 percent of all gamers exhibit signs that could be characterised as addiction. Though this disorder can have significant consequences to those suffering from it, its signs and symptoms can sometimes be very difficult to recognise.
WHAT CAUSES ADDICTION?
One of the main reason that video games can become addictive, is they are designed to be that way. Video game designers, will try to make a profit, always looking for ways to get more people playing their games. They accomplish this by making a game just challenging enough to keep you coming back for more but not so hard that the player eventually gives up. In other words, success for a gamer often feels just out of reach. Video game addiction is very similar to another more widely recognised disorder, gambling addiction.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ADDICTION?
As with any other addiction, video game addiction has warning signs. It is important to know how to recognise these signs if you or someone you care about is an avid gamer.
Feelings of restlessness or irritability when unable to play, preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session, lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing and isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming.
Fatigue, migraines due to intense concentration or eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF ADDICTION?
Video game addiction can cause negative consequences. They can lead to more severe long-term effects. For example, someone addicted to video games will often avoid sleeping or eating proper meals in order to continue gaming. While the short-term effects of this may include hunger and fatigue, it could eventually lead to a sleep disorder or diet-related health issues. Those who isolate themselves from others in order to play video games may miss out on family events, outings with friends, or other events. If this continues to be a pattern for a long period of time, addicts might find themselves without any friends at all.
Other long-term effects of video game addiction to consider are the financial, academic and occupational consequences involved. Video games and video game equipment can be very expensive, especially the high-speed Internet connection required for online multiplayer games. These games can also be very time-consuming, leaving addicted gamers with less time to focus on their education or career.
HOW TO PREVENT ADDICTION?
Choose to pursue other activities such as outdoor sports, reading books, housework, or spending time with friends and family. Parents should provide ongoing supervision and limit on the time children spend playing video games to prevent addiction from starting. It may also help to talk about the fact that the action in video games can go on for a long time, but the games can always wait for the next playing opportunity.
Behavioral therapy can help too. It helps the compulsive person refocus thoughts and energy on different activities instead of gaming. If a gamer has been immersed in an extensive gaming community, it may be necessary to change the gamer’s physical environment for a period of time to institute new habits and thought processes. A residential treatment facility could provide this temporary environment to help a person move past video game compulsions.