Millions around the globe enjoy video games with no harmful effects or damaging behaviour whatsoever. Most players will never have to worry about their hobby turning into an addiction. For a small number of people though, what starts out as fun with friends or a pleasurable pastime can turn into a debilitating video game addiction.
When a user starts playing a video game, a couple of hours is often enough to satisfy. Yet, like a drug or alcohol addiction, those suffering from a video game addiction become desensitised to the pleasure from short gaming sessions and develop a need to play for more extended periods to quell their cravings.
When compared to drug or alcohol addiction, the dangers of video game addiction may seem harmless, but it can ruin lives. Children who play for over four hours a day often have no time for offline socialising, engaging in exercise, or doing school or college work. This can take away from a healthy social development if not managed or dealt with. But children are not the only ones at risk of developing an addiction or who may need game addiction help. Adults may have a compulsive need to play to escape real-life issues, which can have a massive effect or even jeopardise work and relationships.
Symptoms of a video game addiction
A gamer playing often or for long periods of time may not necessarily be an addict. It is common for a person with an addiction to have difficulty engaging in other activities, neglect their personal hygiene, and disregard their physical or mental health. Like any other addiction, users will experience emotional and physical symptoms.
Some emotional symptoms of video game addiction that a user may experience include:
- Lying to friends or family about behaviour and covering up time spent playing
- Irritability when unable to play
- Stress or nervousness about when the next gaming session may be
- A high tolerance to gaming so that a user has to engage in longer sessions
- A loss of interest in other social activities
- A strain on work, school, or relationships
- At least one failed attempt to reduce gaming usage
The strain and effects of constant screen time and little physical activity can have a significant impact on a user’s physical condition, both long term and short term. Some physical side effects of a video game addiction may include:
- Migraines or headaches due to eyestrain
- Constant fatigue
- Carpal tunnel syndrome brought on by the overuse of gaming controllers
- Poor personal hygiene
Who’s at risk of a video game addiction?
Although anyone capable of playing video games is at risk of an addiction, there are certain demographics and behaviours that may make someone more likely to develop an addiction and need game addiction help. These include:
- Children and teens
- Individuals with long periods of unstructured time, such as the unemployed or children with no extracurricular activities
- People with other psychological difficulties, such as depression or anxiety
- Those with higher levels of neuroticism
How does someone get game addiction help?
A newer issue, video game addiction research is not as well established as it is for other addictions. Still, a cognitive behavioural approach often works best for helping users to overcome their addiction. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works by challenging addicts’ thoughts about their behaviours and helps them to recognise irrational or faulty thinking.
For more information on the treatments services offered by Charterhouse Clinic for gaming addiction, please visit our gaming addiction treatment page.