With the development of modern technologies, not only computers have become sophisticated, but video games too. While some people still consider video games as a fun and entertaining pastime for youth, there are several threats every parent should know, and video game addiction is one of them.
Due to the fact that video game addiction is a relatively new issue, there are no much information and treatment options available. Here we are to shed light on the double-edged sword of video games and to teach how to deal with kid`s excessive gaming. Read on.
What is Video Gaming World
Teens play video games to achieve goals, perform missions and reach high scores in a virtual world. Additionally, they can interact with one another while playing the game. Most video games contain elements of role-playing, fighting, killing, etc. The most popular video games include:
- World of Warcraft
- City of Heroes
- Asheron Call
- Ultima Online
- Final Fantasy
What is Video Game Addiction
Video Game Addiction is considered as a behavioral disorder and referred to the excessive use of video games. Those suffering from video game addiction use the virtual world to substitute human connection, which they are not able to achieve in real life.
Teens with video game addiction may be emotionally attached to online friends and activities they create on their computer screens. Also, they like online game aspects that allow them to interact, socialize and share ideas through the game.
The main video game addiction symptoms are similar to those of alcohol and drug addiction. Firstly, a person feels a necessity to play more and more over time and secondly, the desire becomes that strong so they can`t resist playing anymore.
Video Game Addiction Symptoms
Excessive video game playing has disruptive effects on youth. Here are some adverse effects of video game addiction every parent should be aware:
- Preoccupation: A teen who suffers from video game addiction usually show preoccupied behavior even if they are not playing. Also, they may be distracted, indifferent or even irritated.
- Isolating behavior: Playing several hours a week is ok, but when a kid spends almost a day without sleep, food and social interaction playing online games it is a time to ring the alarm bell.
- Loss of time: Video game addicts don`t have a track of time. They may just sit down with an intention to spend 30 minutes playing but will end up at late night not realizing how much time has passed.
- Lack of control: Those suffering from video game addiction are not able to control the amount of time they spend gaming and being online.
- Lack of sleep: Kids who play video games excessively suffer from sleep deprivation which results in inattention, head and backaches, fatigue throughout a day. Also, sleep deprivation has a direct impact on brain development and further school performance.
- Lack of physical exercises: Kids who constantly play don`t have physical activities, which results in health problem and brain development since exercising has a positive effect on the brain and memory.
- Other physical problems: Immoderate gaming has an adverse effect on eyesight, resulting in dry eyes and blurred vision.
- Neglect of school activities and responsibilities: Gaming may have negative effects on kid`s school performance since they are not doing homework and truanting school to play.
- Escaping life problems instead of confronting them: Very often, gaming is used to self-medicate. So, using online gaming, kids simply trying to escape from hustle and bustle of everyday life into a virtual world. It may result in further inability to face the problems in the and solve them, which is an essential skill for adult life.
- Impaired mood when not able to play: Being unable to play make some kids act up and lead to temper tantrums. There are even instances, when kids experience such symptoms like cold sweat, splitting headaches and serious back problems.
- Being deceitful: Redundant gaming can lead kid being dishonest with parents about the time spent on video gaming. In the worst-case scenario, kids may even steal money to purchase more games, causing serious troubles.
- Misuse of money: Teens are suffering from video game addiction, spend vast amounts of money to buy new games, devices, and accessories for their consoles. As it was already mentioned, they may even steal money from their parents.
Video Game Addiction: Stats and Facts
- According to the Pew Research Center, in the USA, 88 % of youth play video games;
- The other Pew Research Center examination has shown that 8,5 % of American youth (8-18) is clinically addicted to playing video games;
- Among kids from 8 to 12, boys spend 16 hours a week playing video games, while girls spend 10;
- As for 13-18 year-olds, boys tend to spend 18 hours a week playing video games, comparing to girls who spend only 8;
- Family therapists claim that 40 % of World of Warcraft players suffer from video game addiction;
According to the online video game addiction test:
- 90% of 8,365 interviewed people confirm that they suffer from game addiction;
- 26% of 11,218 people who have voted for the poll say they play more than 40 hours per week.
Video Game Addiction: Fatal Cases
- In 2005, a Korean man, Seungseon Lee, died of a cardiac arrest after a 50-hour Starcraft marathon;
- In 2006, in Philadelphia, Tyrone Spellman killed his 17-month old daughter after she broke his Xbox game console;
- In 2007, in Ohio, teen Daniel Petric shot his parents, resulted in his mother`s death, after they grabbed the copy of Halo 3 from him;
- In 2009, a Korean girl starved to death after both her parents spent days and nights in the Internet cafe, raising a virtual kid in Prius online game;
- In 2010, in Florida, Alexandra Tobias shook her baby to death, after the boy`s crying had been interrupting her game of FarmVille;
- In 2017, in Virginia Beach, Brian Vigneault died after 24-hour video game marathon;
- In New Mexico, Rebecca Colleen Cristie was sentenced to 25 years in prison, after letting her 3-year old daughter die of starvation and dehydration, being occupied with playing World of Warcraft and chatting online;
Video Game Addiction Treatment
Video game addiction is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of mental health, that`s why there are relatively few treatment options available for those who suffer from video game addiction. They include:
- One-to-one counseling with a psychologist or family therapist, who is experienced in treating video game addiction. The best option is to find a qualified and affordable therapist, but unfortunately, video game addiction specialists are a rarity. Although, it is changing as the problem becomes more and more prevalent.
- Family therapy is more when it comes to treating kids or teens video game addiction. It involves changing family habits and interactions that may contribute to excessive gaming habits.
- Video game addiction treatment centers. Such centers are administrated by mental health professionals and offer intensive inpatient program for those suffering from video game addiction. But unfortunately, they cost a fortune so not all people can afford them.
- Wilderness therapy involves complete removal of the environment where video games can be accessed. Previously wilderness therapy was used to cure a variety of behavioral problems and now is used for video game addiction as well. As the previous treatment option, wilderness therapy is costly.
- Self-treatment. For individuals who can`t find a qualified therapist or afford expensive treatment, there is a convenient and helpful alternative – books. Following step-by-step guides will help to stop successive video gaming and cure video game addiction.
How to Stop Video Game Addiction: Guide for Parents
If your kid has any sign of those mentioned above, as a parent, you should seriously consider limiting their gaming time or even prohibit it completely. Here are some useful tips that will help to break your kid`s video game addiction smoothly:
- Set limits for video games playing: Don`t allow your kid to spend all the weekend playing video games or start playing when homework is not finished. Also, you should keep in mind that they shouldn`t spend more than two hours on screens (including TV, cell phone, tablet, and laptop).
- Keep the priorities straight: Allow your kid to start playing only when both homework and household chores are done. Otherwise, their homework may go unfinished, as well as their domestic duties.
- Keep track of the game: Be very attentive to the games your kid plays. Ensure that their games don`t contain explicit, violent or any other content that may be harmful to your kid.
- Keep video game logs: Pay close attention to your kid`s video game playing. It may help you to understand whether your kid plays video games when they are bored, upset or nervous.
- Pay attention to the game issues: If you notice that specific game makes your kid react poorly or being aggressive, you need to consider prohibiting this game.
- Zero-tolerance: If your kid has temper tantrums, mood swings, anger or depression due to the established video game time limit, consider imposing even stricter limits on their gaming usage.
- Explain the consequences: Make it clear that if your kid exceeds the allowed playing time limit, they will be kept away from the gaming at least for a week.
- Go cold turkey: If your kids have temper tantrums or become dysfunctional when you try to limit their gaming, you can completely uninstall the game or take their game consoles away.
- Not handle it alone: In the worst-case scenario, when your kid is aggressive and not willing to follow your limits, visit a family therapist or psychologist who can help you to deal with their video game addiction.
- Introduce your kid to other activities: For instance, physical activities (playing football, jogging, swimming) and less physical (reading, coding, painting or going out with their friends).
- Use additional tools: If your kid plays games on their device, you can only block it with such handy tools like Kidgy. Also, this tool can help to limit the Internet for specific hours and educate kids remotely.
Video game addiction recovery is not always easy to achieve, but it is a beatable challenge. Video game addiction can have serious consequences and like other types of addictions, should be treated as such. The first step on the road to recovery is to accept that video game dependency exists. Don`t turn a blind eye to your kid`s problem, do a first step in helping them to overcome their addiction.