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Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction is compulsive use of computer and video games to the point at which it interferes with daily life.  One definition of addiction is the compulsive use of a substance or behavior resulting in unmanageability in one or more areas of life (work, school, relationships etc.).  Video game addiction is an advent of late 20th and early 21st century society, as video games have only existed for that time.  Needless to say, it is arguably part of human nature that new vices create new problems.  Children and teens and went to video arcades to play video games 30 years ago, and spent the afternoon playing in a fantasy land – but that would end when it was time to come home for dinner. Today, arcades have been replaced by video games played on the computer or on a home video game console (Xbox360, PS3, Wii), enabling individuals to play video games in the comfort of their own home.

Video Game Addiction Demographics

Video game addiction affects both young people and adults.

Statistically, boys and men generally are more prone to becoming addicted to playing video games than girls and young women

What is Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction is an addiction to a mood altering experience similar to sex addiction, gambling addiction, internet addiction etc.  Video game addiction is like other addictions, it develops over the course of time as the user engages in the mood altering experience. One of the issues with the video games today is that they are graphically realistic and many gamers, as they are called, begin to confuse the real world with the fantasy of online gaming. The more the person isolates themselves on their computer, the more likely addiction can become a problem.

Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

First, many people do not believe there is such a thing as video game addiction, but addictions have to meet certain criteria including:

  1. The person must have more of the substance in order to keep going or seem normal
  2. When the person cannot get more of the substance, he or she becomes miserable and irritable

 Video game addiction fits the criteria of addiction.  It can bring about withdrawal symptoms when the person cannot get their daily fix of video gaming.

 Symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Spending money on games and other video gaming goods that they cannot afford
  • Development of online relations in gaming communities that appears more real than their in-person relationships
  • Weight changes due to prolonged playing
  • Sleep pattern disruptions as the gamer cannot stop playing in order to sleep
  • Has no other interest in activities other than the video games
  • Playing games at inappropriate times, such as playing on the job


Psychological Changes from Video Game Addiction

There also seems to be a change in the person’s emotional and psychological makeup as the addiction takes hold. As a person participates in action type gaming, the brain releases dopamine and therefore the more the person plays, the better the fix; or high. In addition, video game addiction is a way to escape the events in his or her life.

On-line role-playing video games appear to be very alluring because the gamer is interacting with players virtually. Therefore, a child that is unpopular during the day at school may find that they are much more popular virtually. The child can escape into the virtual world, while losing his or her grip on the realities around them.

Why is too much Video Gaming Harmful?

Many children and adults that play video games do not see the harm it can bring. However, playing five hours of video games each day will mean the person has no social interaction other than with the gaming communities. A person that engages in video game overload can quickly escalate into video game addiction. Children especially can rapidly become sucked into the virtual gaming world and have no time for any other social interactions.

Video Game Addiction Treatment

The treatment for those with addictions to video games is very similar to other addictions. Addiction to video games can be compared to food addiction.  A person that is addicted to food has to learn how to control the intake of the food because they must eat. The same is true for video game addiction, computers are everywhere and therefore the person has to learn how to use the computer responsibly.

It is often difficult for the person to admit they have an addiction at all.  Instead, it is important to show the addict how their lives have changed, since video games have taken over. Often it helps the addict to understand that their lives are centered on video games and they have lost sight of their goals and ambitions.

The treatment consists of counseling and detoxing.  There are no video games at a treatment center for an extended period of time. Many people have what is called addictive personalities.  For example; most people can have a glass a wine every night and it never become an addiction, while others have to have a bottle of wine a day and quickly turn into alcoholics. The underlying addictive qualities that people display are there with gamers as well. Therefore, video game addiction is a real addiction that can often be compared to compulsive gambling.

After video game addiction Treatment

Every addict is always just one drink, cigarette, or video game away from slipping into the old patterns.  Parents that have teens that are being treated for video game addictions, should clear out the child’s room while they are away at detox and treatment. Move their computer into the family room and rearrange their room entirely. Perhaps even add a different color of paint on the walls. This is useful because if the teen comes home from treatment and everything is the same, the urge to play video games will be too much and he or she will backslide into their old addiction. 

Video Game Addiction and other Addictions

Interestingly, children or adults that are prone to video game addictions are also susceptible to other addictions.  It is important that the addict understands why they became addicted and how they can abstain from any kind of addictive behavior.