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Understanding and Preventing Video Game Addiction

video-game-controllerThe video game industry is releasing more complex, realistic, and compelling video games designed to capture and hold the attention of increasingly sophisticated gamers. One result of the nature of these video games is an increased compulsion to play them. Although the American Medical Association has not formally designated video game addiction as a mental disorder, it’s possible for gamers to develop increased compulsions to play video games. These compulsions can interfere with daily life and responsibilities, such as work and school.

What is Video Game Addiction?

Although the video game industry markets a significant number of video games to the teen and young adult demographic, older adults may have more trouble with video game compulsions. In reasonable amounts, video games can be an enjoyable part of someone’s day. However, some people who play video games experience related compulsions that cause this pastime to interfere with daily responsibilities and activities. Similar to with other addictions, it is possible for someone’s desire to spend time playing video games to begin interfering with relationships and responsibilities as the gamer seeks to spend more time playing video games and less time doing other activities.

Dangerous Effects

Someone experiencing compulsions to play video games may begin neglecting personal and professional responsibilities such as work or school. Grades may suffer if a gamer spends too much time playing games and not enough time studying. Employment could suffer if a gamer plays games during work time instead of working. Relationships may suffer as a gamer spends more time with video games and less time interacting with family and friends.

Physical ailments can affect a gamer who spends a large amount of time using a computer or a game console. Carpal tunnel syndrome may affect hands and wrists due to excessive time spent with gaming equipment. Headaches, backaches, and dry eyes are additional complaints of gamers. Weight issues may plague gamers also, due to the lack of physical activity connected with this lifestyle. The obsession with video games can also lead to emotional problems, with depression being a common issue for gamers.

Warning Signs

People experiencing compulsions to play video games typically exhibit warning signs. Common signs of a problem include a preoccupation with video games to the point of neglecting relationships and responsibilities. Someone having trouble with video game compulsions may lie to hide the time spent gaming. A gamer may also experience anger or irritability when something interferes with gaming time. During time away from gaming, a person may feel anxious and unsettled. Gaming could also become so consuming that a gamer forgets to bathe, eat, and sleep.

Preventing Addiction

Preventing video game addiction is beneficial to avoid the issues that accompany this compulsion. Instituting limitations on time spent playing video games may help people avoid developing compulsions to playing these games. People can consciously choose to pursue other activities, such as outdoor sports, reading books, housework, or spending time with friends and family, instead of playing video games. Parents should provide ongoing supervision and limits on the time children spend playing video games to prevent compulsions 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.

Getting Help

If video game compulsions become an issue, it is possible to get help to resolve these feelings. Behavioral therapy can help a gamer move past the addiction. Therapy can help the compulsive person refocus thoughts and energy on different activities instead of gaming. If a gamer has been immersed in an extensive gaming community, spending time with other people who are also playing video games, 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.