Gaming Addiction is a Real Thing
Have you (or a loved one) ever found yourself spending too much time playing video games? Have you failed to meet your responsibilities because you lost track of time playing video games or felt like you couldn’t stop?
If you answered yes to this you may meet the criteria for “gaming disorder” under the new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018.
What is Gaming Addiction?
Gaming disorder as defined by the WHO is a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital gaming” or “video gaming”) characterized by:
- impaired control over gaming
- increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities
- continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences
For gaming disorder to be diagnosed the behavior pattern must be sufficiently severe enough to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Additionally, an individual must exhibit these symptoms for at least 12 months.
How Frequent is Gaming Addiction in the U.S. and What Are the Symptoms?
Recent studies by Douglas Gentile from Iowa State University found that 8.5% of Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 are addicted to video games. Gentile found that symptoms included:
- Spending increased amounts of time playing
- Irritability when playtime was reduced
- Escaping problems through play
- Skipping homework or chores in favor of playing
- Stealing money to purchase in-game items or additional games
What is the Difference Between Healthy Gaming and Addiction?
Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between healthy gaming and addiction. There is no definitive rule like “playing more than two hours per day leads to addiction.”
When you consider your gaming or your loved one’s gaming it is important to look at the impact that it is having on your life. If you are able to meet all of your obligations then it may not be a problem. However there is an exception.
If your gaming has prevented you from expanding your responsibilities (performing well academically, going to college, establishing new relationships, receiving promotions at work, etc.) then gaming may be a problem. A young adult who has failed to launch may be able to meet his or her responsibilities but may not be progressing beyond bare responsibilities as a result of their video game play.
What Do I do to Get Help for Myself or a Loved One?
Admitting that you or a loved one may need help is a great start. One of our first recommendations is to look at the other posts on this website about video game addiction. We have some very useful information and focus on providing education on the problem. Realize that video game addiction is a real problem that is affecting our country. Please feel free to reach out to us for further info on treatment for yourself or a loved one.