Teens Struggling with Video Game Addiction and Getting Help
Are you concern with the amount of screen-time your teen spends gaming?
What is video gaming addiction?
Experts say that just because someone uses the internet (video gaming) a lot, or even obsessively, doesn’t mean they’re addicted.
There is some controversy over whether video gaming is an addiction comparable to gambling, drug abuse, or alcoholism.
Video game addiction is not currently recognized as an addictive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the definitive guide to psychiatric illness. But an obsessive preoccupation with games at the expense of real-life activities or obligations shares some of the characteristics of addictive behavior.
How can a parent tell when gaming has stopped being simple entertainment and become an addiction? Here are a few of the key warning signs to watch for:
- Poor performance at school, work, or household responsibilities as a result of a preoccupation with gaming
- Neglect of other hobbies or friendships
- A decline in personal hygiene or grooming
- Inability to set limits on how much time is spent gaming
- Signs of irritability, anxiety, or anger when forced to stop gaming, even for brief periods of time
- The need to spend more time playing games or to play more intensely in order to get the same level of enjoyment
- Symptoms of physical or psychological withdrawal, such as loss of appetite, sleeplessness, agitation, or emotional outbursts if the game is taken away
- Using video games as a way to escape stressful situations at work or school, or conflicts at home
Health Risks and Concerns of Video Game Addiction
Compulsive video gaming can have negative effects on a developing mind or body. Listed below are a few of the key concerns for teens:
- Sedentary lifestyle: Hours spent sitting at a computer or in front of a device can take a toll on a young person’s body. The lack of physical exercise involved in video gaming has led to public health concerns about weight gain, poor posture, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in America’s children and teens.
- Lack of social engagement: Although video games require engaging with others in computerized environments, they don’t necessarily prepare children for the realities of socializing with their peers. Learning how to interact with others in a real-world setting is an important social skill that may be neglected by individuals who spend too much time gaming.
- Problems with concentration and attention: There is some concern that the rapid movements and fast-paced action of video games promote a loss of concentration in players. Children who spend a lot of time playing video games may become less interested in reading books, for example, which requires more focused, prolonged attention.
- Avoidance of developmental tasks: Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and personal development. In order to become mature adults who can take on the challenges of life, teenagers must learn how to confront painful emotions and awkward social experiences. When used appropriately, fantasy roleplaying video games can help children learn and apply valuable character traits that may help them in their interactions with others. But when video gaming is used as an escape mechanism, it allows children to avoid the developmental challenges of growing up.
- Increased aggression or violence: Children and teens who devote a lot of time to playing video games that focus on combat, fighting, or violence may display more signs of aggression than those who don’t play these games. Parents must be aware of the content of video games, which are subject to a rating system similar to the one applied to films. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) posts guidelines and ratings for popular games based on the age of the player, as well as educational resources for parents and parental game controls.
Treating video game addiction
Have you tried home contracts, even bargained with your teen in order to limit screen time and nothing worked?
It might be time to consider a more extensive digital detox plan so your teens can develop a healthy relationship with technology.
The fact is — the internet is not going away. It’s imperative they learn coping skills to be productive and emotionally secure with their social media. There are too many young people living for likes and followers. Many teens actually base their self-worth on the number of likes or followers they have acquired. Sadly, this is now the world they live in.
Some of the more common psychological treatments of Internet Addiction Disorder include:
- Individual, group, or family therapy
- Behavior modification
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Equine Therapy
- Art Therapy
- Recreation Therapy
Have you exhausted your local resources? Is your teen struggling with their obsession with their device? Is their physical and mental health suffering? It might be time to consider residential therapy.