In recent years, gaming addictions have been on the rise among people of all ages, but especially teens and pre-teens. Of course, not all gamers are addicts, the same way that not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic. However, the truth of the matter is that gaming has become an uncontrollable compulsion for many individuals. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviours, teenagers can become so fixated with the fantasy world of gaming that they can begin to neglect other areas of their life, including personal grooming, school and relationships.
Making the matter worse is the fact that modern games now come with incredible graphics and characters that are so realistic that it has become hard to distinguish between game and movie, which make it even more appealing for gamers. It gets to the point where many of these affected individuals would rather play video games all day instead of socialising in the real world.
Can a Gaming Addiction Be Dangerous?
Although research into gaming addictions is still in its infant stages, there is increasing evidence that younger generations addicted to gaming display an array of behavioural problems due to their gaming.
Tragically, there have been cases where teenagers have actually caused harm to family members or friends after being denied access to their video games. Many scientists are of the opinion that it is the games themselves that are actually responsible for behaviour. For example, many of these games feature extreme violence, which can ‘plant’ ideas into the still-developing brains of these youngsters.
Other research has shown that teens and children addicted to gaming have a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety problems. These same kids are also more likely to experience social phobia and achieve poor grades at school when compared to those who are not addicted to gaming.
How to Spot the Signs of a Gaming Addiction
You might be reading this as a concerned parent with concerns that your child may be suffering from a gaming addiction, but are not entirely sure. The following are common effects sand symptoms that can be associated with a gaming addiction:
- Poor eating habits
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Social isolation
- Aggressive or violent behaviour
- Poor effort in school
- Lying to loved ones about how much time they spend gaming
- Playing for lengthy periods of time
- Constantly thinking or talking about gaming.
Although these signs are not compelling evidence in and of themselves that your child is suffering from a gaming addiction, they could well be an indication. Nonetheless, if you are unsure then why not contact our professional staff here at UKAT and we can offer you some helpful advice and information on the matter.
What Can I Do About My Child’s Gaming Addiction?
It is important that parents act as a united front to tackle this type of addiction in youngsters. Regardless of the current situation of the parents’ relationship, both must sit down and discuss the issue before coming up with a list of rules and expectations for the child. It is important for both to decide on common goals, even if this means making certain compromises and sacrifices.
Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to find a psychologist who specialises in gaming addictions. As child and teenage gaming addiction is a relatively recent problem, especially when it comes to online gaming, there are very few therapists trained specifically on this issue. More are beginning to address gaming addictions issues, though.
Overcoming A Gaming Addiction
Many people assume that overcoming a gaming addiction will be easy, but it is an addiction, and all types of addiction can be difficult to overcome without the right treatment and support in place. It’s not just the case that those suffering from this kind of addiction simply avoid gaming machines. There are many psychological challenges to overcome, which is where eventual treatment will come in.
In the meantime, parents can try to encourage their child and gently try to push them to find an alternative to gaming. This could be anything from sport to music to simply playing outside with other kids. Many children will try to guilt-trip their parents by telling them that they are bored and have ‘nothing to do’. However, if children are really that bored, they will find something to entertain themselves.