Video game addiction is a fairly new condition; one that has developed within the past two decades. As gaming devices and the Internet become more and more available, this addiction continues to rise. Video game addiction does not just affect kids, although teens, adolescents, and young adults are at highest risk for this disorder.
Video game addiction is not yet recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental health condition, but it is considered an impulse control disorder, much like shopping addiction or other addictive disorders without intoxicating substances. Video game addiction often requires the help of professional therapy to overcome.
Video game addiction causes the individual to spend long hours playing games. The person may neglect their responsibilities, including school, work, and family, to participate in their games. Video game addicts will often try to hide the amount of time they spend playing and will become defensive when confronted about their actions. They may use video games as a way to escape from their pain or feelings, or as a means to interact with others in the virtual world while withdrawing socially from those around them.
Video Game Addiction Statistics
According to researcher Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., video game statistics among children are alarming. He found that:
- Approximately 9% of children in one study displayed signs of video game addiction.
- Children in the study played video games for a little over 20 hours per week, on average.
- Video game addiction is not simply a matter of playing hours of video games, on a regular basis; it involves a lack of healthy functioning in various parts of kids’ lives. These can include family life, health, moral values, and school performance.
- Children with video game addiction exhibit behaviors similar to pathological gamblers.
- ADD or ADHD was 2 times as likely to have been diagnosed in children addicted to video games.
Treatment for Video Game Addiction
In the United States, treatment for video game addiction is much the same as for other process addictions or for drug addiction and alcoholism. Individuals go through behavior modification techniques that help them stop the gaming, and develop health habits instead. These individuals must also learn how to form healthy, real-world relationships, and how to interact with family and loved ones again. Because video game addiction is a compulsion, the individual will need to learn how to manage the triggers to play, and how to deal with stress and problems in life. Treatment programs that specialize in video game addiction treatment include Cottonwood Tucson, the ControlCenter, Behavioral Health Services at BradfordRegionalMedicalCenter, and On-line gamers anonymous.
The best kind of treatment is prevention, and it is important that parents limit the time their child spends online and playing video games. Video games are designed to keep the player engaged, and the very nature of many of the games makes the transition from habit to addiction an easy one. Gaming times should be monitored, and individuals should be encouraged to build real world relationships, take part in healthy activities, and maintain their normal responsibilities.