Do you notice that your spouse or child becomes irritable when you suggest that they decrease the time they spend gaming? Do you wonder how much is too much? Gaming is not all together a negative activity but one danger it is possible it could turn into an addiction.

Children & Teens are skipping school playing Ruinscape, World of Warcraft (World of WarCrack), Grand Theft Auto (GTA), Call of Duty Black Ops, Road Blocks, etc.

Adults are getting hooked on World of Warcraft (WoW) and losing their job because they are staying at home playing instead of going to work. Gaming addictions effects marriages, academic and work performance and social relationships as well. In children, a gaming addiction can take away from normal social development. It can cause physical, emotional, and mental problems.

Addiction Defined: Let’s look at how addiction is defined. An addiction is when a person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep them going. It is also when a person becomes irritable and miserable if they do not get more of the substance or a behavior. Some warning signs for a possible gaming addiction are listed below.

Signs of Addiction: If you or someone you know has 3 or more of these symptoms there is potential of a gaming addiction.

  1. Playing for increased amounts of time.
  2. Thinking about gaming during other activities.
  3. Gaming to escape from real life problems.
  4. Lying to family and friends about the time they spend gaming.
  5. Isolating from other activities.
  6. Feeling irritable when trying to cut down gaming.
  7. Becoming defensive when confronted about gaming.
  8. Negative impact on other areas of life.
  9. Experiencing a loss of time.
  10. Lack of control.

How Gaming Addiction Starts: A gaming addiction is usually created by additional factors other than enjoyment. There could be underlying causes that lead to the gaming addiction. Some common causes and triggers are:

  1. Experiencing low self-esteem.
  2. Need for social interaction.
  3. Need to substitute real-life human connections, which they are unable to achieve normally.
  4. The ability to re-invent themselves (in games like Farmville or World of Warcraft).
  5. Stressful external factors.

Recommendations: Placing restrictions and limits will help to prevent a gaming addiction in children and adults. It is also helpful to keep a log of when and how long the game is played for and limit video games to 30-60 minutes during the school week and 2-3 hours on the weekend. If you feel like your spouse, child, or yourself might have a gaming addiction it is important that they seek help.

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Author: Alicia Barilla

Co-Written and Edited by Adolescent Expert Jim West, MA, LMHC, NCC