28 April 2016

The Link Between Young Men and Gaming Addiction

When it comes to addiction, most people’s thoughts turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs. Recent news of the death of pop superstar Prince has again highlighted the fact that not all drug addiction relates to illegal drugs and that prescription medication can be just as addictive and harmful.

However, it is important to note that not all addictions are substance-based either. Those with no experience of addiction may automatically think of drugs or alcohol when they hear the word addiction, but those in the know are all too aware that it is possible to become addicted to almost anything.

Addiction is described as any activity or pattern of behaviour that has a negative impact on a person’s life. Therefore, it is entirely possible for people to be affected by shopping, sex, gambling, and even gaming addiction.

What Causes Gaming Addiction

Although anyone can become affected by gaming addiction, it appears to be more prevalent among young men; new research has now suggested that this type of addiction could be caused by a need to escape conditions such as psychiatric disorder and ADHD.

A team at the University of Bergen, and led by Dr Cecilie Schou Andreassen, has conducted a study that involved over 20,000 people about video game addiction. According to Dr Schou Andreassen, “Video game addiction is more prevalent among younger men, and among those not being in a current relationship, than others.”

The study, which was published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviours journal of the American Psychological Association, showed that gaming addiction has a link with depression, OCD and ADHD. Dr Schou Andreassen said, “Excessively engaging in gaming may function as an escape mechanism for, or coping with, underlying psychiatric disorders in an attempt to alleviate unpleasant feelings, and to calm restless bodies.”

The study also revealed that those who were more likely to develop an addiction to social media showed some definite tendencies, and added, “The study implies that younger people with some of these characteristics could be targeted regarding preventing development of an unhealthy gaming pattern.”

Gender Difference

When it comes to illnesses such as gaming addiction and addiction to other computer activities, there seem to be some apparent differences between the sexes. The study showed that men are more likely to develop addictions to gaming, gambling and online porn while women had a higher tendency to develop addictions to activities such as texting, online shopping and social media, according to Dr Schou Andreassen.

Criteria for Identifying Gaming Addiction

The study used a number of criteria to help identify whether participants could be classed as having a gaming addiction. Participants were asked to use a scale ranging from ‘never’ to ‘very often’. Questions asked included:

  • Do you think about playing a game throughout the day?
  • Do you spend a lot of time playing games?
  • Do you play games in order to forget about real life?
  • Have others tried to reduce or limit your game time but have been unsuccessful?
  • Do you feel bad when you cannot play games?
  • Do you argue with friends or family members about the time you spend playing games?
  • Do you neglect other important areas of life such as work, school or sport in favour of playing games?

Those who scored high on at least four of the above questions would be considered to have, or be in danger of, developing a gaming addiction. Dr Schou Andreassen was keen to point out that most people who play games have a ‘relaxed relationship to video games and fairly good control’.

The Effects of a Gaming Addiction

Although many people would consider it harmless to play games on consoles or online, the reality is that this can become an addiction that destroys lives. Those who become obsessed with gaming may neglect important areas of their lives, which could then have serious negative consequences.

Playing games in favour of important activities such as school work, for example, can result in poor grades and fewer opportunities for the future. In addition, those who spend significant amounts of time playing games may not be getting enough sleep, which can affect their physical and mental health.

Other consequences of spending too much time playing games are that the individual in question may begin to prefer living in the ‘virtual’ world and then be unable to relate to people in the ‘real’ world. This can affect their ability to form relationships in the future.

Help for Addiction

Nevertheless, at UKAT, we can help those with gaming addiction problems. Treatments typically include one-to-one counselling, group therapy, motivational interviewing, 12-step work and cognitive behavioural therapy. We have fully trained and qualified staff with experience of helping those with all types of addiction, including gaming addiction. Contact us today for more information about the help we provide to young men and gaming addiction treatment available.


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*Please contact your chosen centre for availability

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