Signs of Video Game Addiction: Everything You Need to Know
Learn more about the signs of video game addiction and how to get the help you need in this comprehensive guide.
Signs of Video Game Addiction: Understanding Video Game Addiction
People play video games for recreation, and the hobby itself can lead to potential mental health benefits, such as stress relief, creativity, social connection, and a sense of achievement. However, like with anything else, it’s important to have balance.
With gaming, there is a risk of developing an addiction. Video game addiction is a behavioral disorder also known as internet gaming disorder (IGD) or gaming disorder. It is characterized by the lack of control over one’s gaming, resulting in negative consequences.
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Consequences of Gaming Addiction
Some of the consequences of gaming addiction can include:
- Poor grades
- Poor psychosocial functioning
- Interpersonal conflict
- Aggressive thoughts and behaviors
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gaming becomes an addiction when it interferes with a person’s daily life for at least 12 months.1
How Does Video Game Addiction Begin?
A survey showed that 97% of Americans between the ages of 12–17 years play video games.2 The allure of video games is what makes them addictive. For example, the game’s well-crafted rewards system keeps players engaged and motivates them to play more, level up, and earn more rewards.
This widespread engagement with video games can be attributed to their impact on the brain, particularly the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which reinforces the pleasure of achieving in-game rewards, and serotonin, contributing to the players’ overall sense of well-being and satisfaction.
Signs of Video Game Addiction: Recognizing the Severity of Video Game Addiction
Video game addiction can have severe negative impacts on a person’s well-being. When playing video games, the brain processes every event that occurs in the game as if it were real.
If the game gets to a dangerous or violent stage, the player’s body will react accordingly, triggering the flight or fight response. Excessive exposure to intense stimulation and violence in a video game can lead to the brain being in a constant state of hyperarousal.
Negative Consequences of Hyperarousal
Constant hyperarousal causes the body to produce increased levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Increased levels of cortisol can cause chronic stress and the following signs of video gaming addiction:
- Anger outbursts and hostility
- Difficulty concentrating and following directions
- Inability to manage emotions and control impulses
When a child or teen becomes immersed in playing video games for hours and shows aggression when interrupted, it’s recommended to talk to a professional. Parents should reach out to their child’s pediatrician, family physician, or a qualified addiction treatment center like Ripple Ranch.
Signs of Video Game Addiction: The Roles of Age, Developmental Stage, and Gender
Video games have become a major part of modern life. Video gaming often starts during early childhood and continues through adulthood.
Childhood and adolescence are major developmental stages as these are the stages in which self-identity is established and physical and behavioral changes occur.
According to the CDC, about 5.5 million children between the ages of 3-17 years develop behavior problems. It is between the childhood and adolescent growth stages that people develop or discover coping mechanisms to help when dealing with negative emotions.3
Video Games as a Coping Mechanism
Some children and teens use video games as a coping mechanism because it provides them with a means to escape reality. Video gaming provides them with a sense of control to do what they desire with no adult nagging them or chastising their every step.
Children and adolescents may also turn to video games to deal with:
- Negative life events
- Social problems
This makes them more susceptible to developing internet gaming disorders.
Exploring Gender-Related Variations in Signs of Video Game Addiction
Signs of video game addiction manifest differently between the two genders, and studies have shown that it is more prevalent in males. Over the years, several studies have suggested that females tend to progress more quickly from behavioral initiation to addiction.4
Signs of Video Game Addiction in Males
Clinicians treating gaming addiction reported that this behavioral disorder can go unnoticed in females.
Males tend to frequently exhibit the following signs of video game addiction:
- Aggressive behaviors
- High impulsivity
- Impaired inhibitory control
- Impact of video game addiction
Signs of Video Game Addiction in Females
Females experience more psychopathologies, including video gaming disorder and other addictions, compared to males. Females tend to frequently exhibit symptoms like loneliness and emotional dysregulation when they experience a gaming addiction.
The Impact of Video Gaming Addiction
Various studies show that excessive video gaming or internet gaming disorder causes several negative health and social effects on children and teens. The effects and signs of video gaming addiction can be categorized into the following:
Physical Effects of Video Gaming Addiction
Here are some negative physical effects of video game addiction:
- Wrist pain, calluses, and blisters due to holding and operating a controller for several hours
- Migraines due to eye strain and intense concentration
- Fatigue due to lack of proper hydration
- Nintendo thumb, which is a repetitive strain injury caused by inflammation in the tendons that move the thumb
- High blood pressure due to a lot of stress and excitement from playing
- Effective strategies for parents or guardians to address video game addiction
- Dehydration and obesity as a result of poor diet
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by overusing a controller or mouse
Social, Academic, and Professional Effects of Video Gaming Addiction
Video games are designed to be addictive. The latest video games allow players to interact and play with people across the globe. Video games are social and offer instant gratification that can be hard to achieve in real life.
Here’s how video gaming disorder can affect someone’s social, academic, or professional life:
- Isolating themselves from friends and family as they now prefer to spend all their time gaming
- Relationship strains, which are a result of neglecting responsibilities and social obligations, leading to conflict with friends and families
- Poor performance at school or work due to excessive gaming and the inability to stop thinking about playing.
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, including school and work tasks, leading to poor performance and productivity
- Unemployment and having to retake classes due to prioritizing gaming over professional and academic responsibilities
Effective Strategies for Guardians to Address Signs of Video Game Addiction
If a parent notices their child is showing signs of video game addiction, the following are strategies they can use to stop excessive video gaming:
Acknowledge and Discuss the Issue
By recognizing their child is showing signs of video game addiction, they can focus on treatment methods and recovery. After recognizing the issue, parents should sit down with their child and discuss their observations and concerns.
Be empathetic, and don’t criticize or blame. Children are more likely to listen and change if the influences are supportive and positive.
Set Limits Together
For a proper recovery after recognizing the signs of video game addiction, it’s important to set clear and consistent limits together. Parents may be tempted to set strict rules and ensure their child follows them, but this often backfires. Kids appreciate autonomy.
Parents should collaboratively set limits with their children on the amount of time they can spend playing video games each day. They can start by creating a timetable and setting limits that balance family time, study time, and fun activities.
For example, parents can set a rule that says no video games until homework is done. Involving kids in the decision-making process can increase their sense of responsibility and accountability. Consistency is key for this strategy to work, so ensure everyone is on board with the rules.
Encourage Alternate Activities
Guardians should encourage their child to try out activities aside from gaming. They should listen to their likes and dislikes and help them discover hobbies, arts, sports, or other activities they may enjoy.
By doing this, parents show their kids that there are many other activities that provide just as much excitement as video games.
Examples of Alternative Activities
If the child plays a lot of strategy games, suggest puzzles or chess. If they enjoy adventure games, suggest outdoor activities like:
- Rock climbing
- Joining a sports team
Parents should not only suggest alternative activities; they should create fun family activities to help make the transition from the gaming world to real life easier and more engaging.
Model Healthy Use of Screens
Children imitate what they see the people around them doing. One of the best strategies to implement in correcting a child’s gaming disorder in the long term is to become a role model. When talking to their child, parents should give them their full attention and put devices aside.
By maintaining a healthy screen time, they would realize that their kids would start to imitate this behavior. Parents and guardians can help their children with their gaming disorder by following the screen time guidelines themselves.
Signs of Video Game Addiction: When to Get Help
At Ripple Ranch Recovery Center, we recommend seeking professional help if you or a loved one starts exhibiting the following signs of video gaming addiction:
- Constantly thinking about playing games all the time
- Having problems at work or school due to constant gaming
- Skipping school and work to play video games
- Get angry or hostile when the game is taken away or someone comments about it
- Isolating and avoiding friends and family members due to constant conflict over video gaming
Signs of Video Game Addiction: Treatment Options at Ripple Ranch
Treatment for video game addiction is similar to treatment for other types of addiction. The following are the major treatment methods Ripple Ranch Recovery Center employs in the signs of video game addiction:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a psychological treatment used to treat several behavioral and mental illnesses. It involves the therapist working with the child or adolescent in recognizing and changing their video game addictive thought patterns and behaviors.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is another form of therapy. It is a combination of talk therapy and behavioral therapy. This treatment method focuses on helping children and adolescents suffering from IGD manage their negative emotions and learn interpersonal and proper communication skills.
This is a form of psychotherapy that involves recreational activities and various expressive modalities. At Ripple Ranch, we use this method to teach teens and children to identify and focus on their feelings through hands-on activities.
By participating in these activities, they can develop healthier thinking patterns and improve their well-being.
This is a holistic treatment method. Meditation helps in managing the psychological effects of video game addiction, such as angry outbursts. Ripple Ranch organizes meditation sessions led by experienced practitioners.
Signs of Video Game Addiction: How Ripple Ranch Can Help
If you or your child are showing signs of video game addiction, Ripple Ranch is here to help. Ripple Ranch is a recovery center located in Texas. We provide comprehensive treatment for mental health, substance abuse, and video gaming addiction to adolescents and adults.
Our facility ensures clients benefit from an exceptional evidence-based treatment and achieve total wellness. Our team of well-experienced health professionals will help you figure out a care plan that is effective for you.
At Ripple Ranch, we understand that every individual journey is different, so we provide personalized and compassionate care.
The Ripple Effect
At Ripple Ranch, we believe in the ripple effect. It’s key to how we comprehensively and positively help our clients.
A ripple of change and a ripple of hope. The ripples spread and they touch not just your life but the lives of those around you. Together, we are creating waves of positive change throughout the recovery process.
The ranch offers several treatment services, including:
- Co-ed rehab (separate housing)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Music, art, and experiential therapy
During treatment, Ripple Ranch equips patients with positive coping skills and communication skills to ensure long-term recovery. We also provide aftercare programs to provide continual support to our patients and help them maintain sobriety outside of the facility.
Contact Ripple Ranch for a Comprehensive Video Game Addiction Treatment
At Ripple Ranch, we focus on providing quality treatment services. If you or your loved one is exhibiting signs of video game addiction, Ripple Ranch is here to help. Our team of experts will support you throughout your recovery journey and provide you with the adequate care you need.