An article published in 2018 in The Guardian written by Marc Lewis, states that The World Health Organization (WHO) has placed gaming disorder in the International Classification of Diseases and the organization claims that gaming disorder or gaming addiction can be compared to psychological addictions such as drug or gambling addiction.
written by Marc Lewis, states that The World Health Organization (WHO) has placed gaming disorder in the International Classification of Diseases and the organization claims that gaming disorder or gaming addiction can be compared to psychological addictions such as drug or gambling addiction.
Another article, from the News Guard, claims that children who play video games excessively can become addicted. Without proper adult supervision, it’s possible for children and teens to spend far too many hours playing games above the recommended age level, and when this happens it is possible for them to develop a gaming disorder or addiction to gaming.
Teenagers who hide away in their rooms to play video games for hours on end often find that they develop antisocial behaviors including social anxiety, a decreased need for social stimulation and anger outbursts when confronted about the time they spend gaming. While almost all children and teens today play some form of a video game, it is important to monitor game time to ensure they are playing age-appropriate games.
It is important for parents to watch for signs of video game addiction and to work with their children to find healthy activities to do when gaming is not possible. While some believe that gaming disorder will not interfere with leading a healthy mental or physical lifestyle, the fact is that gaming can influence the way that people act towards others. Excessive gaming can also cause children and teens to develop poor personal hygiene habits or eating disorders caused by the amount of time spent gaming and not paying attention to diet.
Signs of Gaming Addiction
There are some signs of gaming addiction that parents can watch out for and they include:
- Loss of interest in activities outside of gaming.
- Using games to escape reality or negative situations.
- Irritability, anger and other negative moods when games are taken away.
- An unhealthy focus on gaming when away from the game system or computer.
- Development of antisocial behavior.
- Lying about time spent gaming.
The truth is that families can be torn apart by gaming addiction and it does not have to be solely due to the children in the home. Adults can also develop gaming disorders, and this can cause them to neglect their responsibilities towards their children or spouse. Families need to work together to plan a physical activity that will be fun for all ages. This doesn’t mean that a person must make time to spend an entire day hiking or running a marathon. A little family time playing a game outdoors for fresh air, doing household chores together or taking a trip out to go roller skating or another physical activity can help curb gaming time.
Parents should limit gaming time to under one or two hours maximum per day and it’s up to the parent to check gaming age restrictions and content on games to ensure their child is not subjected to something violent or that is too old for them. It is easy as a parent to plop a child in front of a screen to play a game and stay busy for a few hours while the parent works on adult matters, but too much time in front of the screen playing games can cause problems.
In China, teenagers are now being sent away to boot camps for internet addictions to combat video gaming. Many argue that boot camps are dangerous and that teens do not need to be sent away.
There are some games however that can help develop skills that children and teens need. These skills include games that help boost confidence in children, offer team-building challenges and socializing with players from around the globe.
If a person suspects their child may be developing a gaming disorder, it’s important to immediately begin limits on gaming time if none are already in effect. Even more, however, it is important to determine whether the child or teen has an underlying cause for their mood changes, anger issues or other negative behavior other than gaming. Proper mental and physical healthcare is vital to a healthy child or teen.
If you reside in the United States and believe you have a gaming addiction or know someone who does, you can contact the SAMSHA helpline (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) for a referral to help available in your local area.
Lewis, M (2018) Are Video Games Really Addictive? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/20/video-games-addictive-disorder-diagnosis
The News Guard. (2019) School officials take action to ease youth video game addiction. Retrieved from: https://www.thenewsguard.com/news_paid/addiction-school-officials-take-action-to-ease-youth-video-game/article_b3c596d4-4c1b-11e9-975e-ebefc4e47a80.html
Phillips, T (2017) Electronic Heroin; China’s boot camps get tough on internet addicts. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/28/electronic-heroin-china-boot-camps-internet-addicts