Video game addiction is very real.
Tony is about to level up. He just needs ten more experience points.
He has finished none of his homework, and turned down offers to hang out with friends tonight. He was very upset when his mom made him stop playing to have dinner. He would rather stay in his virtual world. Even when he is at school, he is thinking about his next game quest.
His dad thinks he plays too much, but Tony told him he only plays one hour each day (even though he actually gets up in the middle of most nights and plays for a couple of hours then too.)
Tony does not realize it, but he is addicted to video games. His symptoms are classic addictive behavior, and are not that uncommon. In fact, it is estimated that ten percent of gamers exhibit these addictive behaviors.
Gaming Addiction Has a Serious Impact
Video game addiction affects gamers like Tony both physically and socially. Consequences include:
- Sleep Disturbances – Games can cause overstimulation of the brain, which disrupts sleep patterns. Additionally, Tony might be unable to sleep due to obsessive thinking about the game.
- Migraines – Extended video game play makes gamers susceptible to migraines due to the intense concentration required and strain on the eyes.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Overuse of a game controller can cause irritation or swelling of the carpal tunnel (an area of the wrist.) Tony will likely experience pain, numbness, and weakening of the hand and wrist if he keeps up his habit.
- Backaches – Sitting in the same position for too long will cause Tony to have a stiff and sore back, and can deteriorate into chronic back problems.
- Poor nutrition – If addicted, a gamer often does not want to take the time to eat healthy balanced meals. Instead, Tony munches on whatever is quick and easy, or he may skip meals entirely as he is enthralled with the game.
- Poor hygiene – Gaming is the priority. Time and effort are not made for teeth brushing, bathing, or grooming. Tony eventually stops caring about his personal appearance.
- Relational neglect – Addicted gamers will continually turn down opportunities to interact with others to play video games instead. Friendships and family relationships are not important, and begin to strain or break. Tony may completely isolate himself, in a world filled solely with gaming.
The Condition is Treatable
As with other addictions, there is hope for Tony, you, or the gamer in your life. Video game addicts can be helped. In fact, experts recommend the same treatments used with other addictions for video game addicts. These include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- 12-step programs
Alternative methods of treatment include wilderness therapy and gaming addiction treatment centers. Wilderness therapy puts the addict in a natural environment, removed from addictive devices.
Treatment centers include both residential and outpatient services.
Learn more about Internet and gaming addiction and how they're treated.