Over a year ago, I wrote an article on and some of the signs and symptoms. Since writing that article, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open regarding this topic, especially since it directly relates to the health and happiness of those who become addicted to gaming.
I want to say up front that I am not implying that everyone who plays video games is going to become addicted. I know lots of people who are able to balance the occasional video game with the responsibilities and requirements of daily life. However, the numbers are growing, so I think it’s time to readdress the issue.
When people think of addiction, usually they think of some kind of substance abuse like drugs or alcohol. However, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Brody describes the criteria for video game addiction in a similar way to substance abuse.
- The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going.
- If the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, he becomes irritable and miserable.
I had the opportunity to interview a close family member who admits he is a recovering video game addict. He said,
“When I was at the worst part of my addiction, I was playing about 16 hours a day. I would lie to my wife about how long I had been on the computer. In fact, I looked forward to her being gone so I could play all day without her knowing. Then when she got home, I would say I had only played a few hours.”
He also said that he would think about gaming during work and felt that the people he was playing his game with were his real friends and a part of his social network.
I asked him how he felt about the thought of turning off the game or just getting rid of it and he said,
“The thought of getting rid of my game scared me and made me feel depressed. When I was playing I could just escape into another world … literally. The problem was that world was not reality. When I finally knew it was time to give up gaming, I was embarrassed at how much of my life I had wasted. My health was terrible, my marriage was over and my social life was not real. The video game was not worth the costs it’s had on my life.”
If you suspect that your child or loved one is or could become addicted to video games, seek professional help and talk to them about what the game is doing to them. Please don’t wait or think the situation is going to get better on its own. Parents, while your children are in your home, you have a lot of influence over their video game time. Be aware of how much time they spend on the game and monitor which video games they play. There are games that are more addictive than others.