Video Game Addiction-Symptoms and Treatment of Video Game Addiction

What is video game addiction? Are video games addictive? Are you a video game addict? Video game addiction is often referred to as video game overuse, a compulsive or excessive use of computer games and/or video games. Video game addicts are believed to exhibit the same psychological addictive behaviors as gambling addiction, often described as an impulse control disorder.

The 2007 study by the American Medical Association reviewing video game addiction concluded that “more research and studies are needed to provide conclusive evidence that video game addiction is a disorder.” Increased pressure is being placed upon the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to include “Internet/video game addiction” in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standard diagnostic text used by psychiatrists worldwide.

Research by Stanford University School of Medicine in 2008 shows video games do have addictive characteristics, and a Harris Interactive Poll released in April 2007 showed that 8.5% of youth gamers in the United States could be “classified as pathologically or clinically addicted to playing video games.”

Are your children addicted to video games? Are you addicted to playing video games? Is your boyfriend or husband addicted to video games, or perhaps your girlfriend or wife? Are you an adult with an internet addiction that consumes most if not all of your time, perhaps creating problems in your personal relationships, marriage or job?

Research into computer game addiction or video game addiction statistics shows that men and boys are more likely to become addicted to video games (if they aren’t already), versus the percentage of girls and women becoming addicted to video games, but the numbers of female video game addicts are rising. If you don’t know or don’t understand video game ratings, how games are rated and the effect the ratings should have on your video game playing habits or purchases, it’s time to become fully aware.

Signs of Addiction

Here are some symptoms or signs of video game addiction as well as computer game addiction to help determine if your children are addicted to video games, or if you and/or your boyfriend, husband, girlfriend or wife are video game addicts.

For Children:

  1. Most of their “free time”, non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games.
  2. Fatigue; tendency to fall asleep in school.
  3. Not keeping up with homework assignments/not turning in homework on time.
  4. Worsening grades.
  5. Lying about computer or video game use so computer or video game privileges aren’t taken away.
  6. Choosing the computer or playing video games rather than spending time with friends or family.
  7. Dropping out of activities such as social groups, clubs or sports.
  8. Irritable, cranky or agitated (withdrawal symptoms) when not playing a video game or on the computer.

For Adults:

  1. Obsession or preoccupation about computer games or playing video games on a video game console excessively
  2. Neglecting personal relationships with friends and family to spend more time playing video games
  3. Difficulty keeping up with personal or professional responsibilities due to increased hours playing video games. Have you ever “called in sick” to stay home to play your favorite game?
  4. Lying to others about computer or video game use. Do you sneak time to play games, perhaps late at night while others are asleep? Has someone close to you, perhaps your significant other, ever criticized you for spending too much time playing video games rather than spending time with them?
  5. While not spending time on the internet or playing video games, do you feel angry, agitated, irritable or depressed? Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not playing video games?
  6. Do you spend most of your time thinking or wishing you could be playing your favorite game or surfing the web?
  7. Do you become so involved in playing video games that you sometimes neglect to eat, sleep, or bathe?
  8. Do you ever experience physical symptoms such as backaches, dry eyes or headaches after playing video games? Have you been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or experience symptoms of carpal tunnel?

Let’s get real, shall we? If you are truly convinced that your teenagers or young children are addicted to video games or computer games, it’s your job as the parent to get your kids off the computer and off the video game console, providing them ample opportunity for active play and natural exercise in and outside of the home.

Make no mistake, video game addiction is a real addiction and if you are a parent that is concerned about your home-grown video game addict, it’s up to you to parent your children and closely monitor and limit their gaming activities. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG’s) are designed to be addictive.

Video game makers and marketers are counting on people to become addicted to the games! Cha-Ching! It’s a lot of money in their pockets, and a lot of money out of your pockets. Let your children whine, cry and complain all they want about placing restrictions and limits on their game use, but be the parent.

One of the effects of children addicted to video games is the increase in childhood obesity amongst young children and teens due to excessive amounts of time spent leading a more sedentary lifestyle (and poor eating habits), amongst other physical, emotional and mental problems associated with too much time being spent playing video games.

Be the parent of your children, not their friend. If the video game problem in your home is so bad that you feel your child is a “video game addict”, or if your children spend too much time watching television, shut it down and get your children involved in other activities that encourage and promote active play and that provides more than finger and thumb exercises from video game controls.

Adult Video Game Addicts

Are you an adult addicted to video games? How does your significant other feel about the amount of time you spend playing video games, rather than spending needed time with him or her? Do you spend most of your free time as an internet addict, surfing the web or participating in various message boards, forums or chat rooms so much so that your relationship or marriage is in serious jeopardy?

Have you considered (or do you even care) that your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife may consider your video game addiction or internet addiction as a relationship deal breaker and may be considering ending the relationship? Remember, “video game addicts are believed to exhibit the same psychological addictive behaviors as gambling addiction, often described as an impulse control disorder.” Gambling addiction is on the list of relationship deal breakers, and you’d be wise to consider the effects your addiction has on your relationship or marriage before it’s too late.

Treatment for Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction treatment centers are popping up in countries like China, South Korea, the Netherlands and the United States in an effort to provide help for video game addiction. Detox for video game addiction is designed to help video game addicts learn how to effectively eliminate their compulsive, addictive behaviors much like those addicted to gambling and/or alcohol abuse.

Video game addiction books provide helpful advice to video game addicts on how to beat computer and video game addiction, as well as important information for parents struggling with their children’s addiction to video games. Information in these books on video game addiction also discuss the increasing number of violent video games and the harmful effects these games may have on children and teens that parents may or may not be aware of.

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172 Responses to “Video Game Addiction-Symptoms and Treatment of Video Game Addiction”

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  1. Keith says:

    I had a girfriend I just left 2 days ago for an online video game addiction. She is at the point of 16 hour days. The worst part is she feels she is doing something productive because she has surrounded herself with the same people. Her friend was sleeping on our floor for 4 days and when I asked my girlfriend to go on a date with me she brought her friend with. She used to hang out with me and my friends but now refuses to because it is to boring. I even whent as far as to tell her I was going to leave and when it came down to it she said I can have the tv and everthing else if she could keep the system. I know I did the wrong thing letting her keep it but do not want to fight anymore about her finding a job and getting off the game. How do I help her without her shutting down or getting mad at me?

  2. Taylor says:

    You guys are going a little over board with this although it may be addictive the slightest bit I do think the children grow these habits from neglection from others outside the room.Maybe they were just not chosen to be involved like others so they found something they could always have around no matter what.

    • Betty says:

      Taylor, I saw your comment and thought maybe you have a little insight into some kids and video addiction. Our youngest grandson has been a video game addict since he was about 9 years old. His mother was in and out of the house for a few years and his dad was too busy to give him much attention (negative, only). Now, he’s so addicted that he doesn’t go to school at all. He is still considered a freshman in some classes (he’s 15 now), and I don’t believe he’ll graduate in the next few years. His mother insists he has an illness so was able to put him on homebound status so a teacher visits him a few times a week to do school work with him. He stays up until dawn and sleeps all day. The only friends he has anymore are the kids he plays games with on-line. He is almost a recluse now. He will only come out of his room to say hi when we are at the door. He eats some, but is back in his room as soon as possible. Don’t know how we can help him since his mother is in so much denial regarding how he is behaving. Can’t tell her anything.

      • Ben C. says:

        Alrighty, well, here goes. I’m 14 years old, and I am quite positive I have a video game addicition. My game time varies, as I do take part in a few of the more time-consuming school activities. In a normal school day I play about 7-8 hours, and both my parents work. I am not the addict who is a complete basement-dweller, in fact I hate my house’s basement. However, I believe it has a lot of negative effects on my life, I get around 6 or less hour of sleep everyday(even on the weekends sometimes) due to videogames. My grades are dropping, and I know I exhibit a lot of video game addiction symptoms. I, of course, want to get help. Any suggestions would be welcome. My problem is, however, it would be very hard for me to get help. I am sure you all know what the term “awkward” means, and I am VERY awkward in conversation. I am a social outcast. My mother is very confrontational to me sometimes, and, cold as this may sound(please don’t judge..) I don’t love her very much. My father, to put it simply, is a talker and not a doer. Thus, I don’t know how I could get help from my parents. My school is ok, but the guidance counselors are not that good. I pretty much don’t know them at all, so it would be very awkward to come in one day and just say “I have a gaming addiction, please help me!” I know it sounds like I’m trying to rule out every possible option for whatever reason, but this is how i see it as of now. I don’t know what to do to stop my
        addiction, and I don’t want to waste myself because of it! Any suggestions
        would be useful. Help!

        • wilma says:

          Dear Ben – Firstly I want to say how brave you are confronting your gaming addiction. Secondly, you are obviously an intelligent young man to have written what you did. I hope you have found yourself some help, through school or try emailing this very wise man in New Zealand- John Mc ewan . You can see his info on DRStress or google him. He is on You tube. I think you will have to lead the way to your recovery and I believe you have it in you to recover and make new friends and get involved in real things. I suggest helping out at a local garden centre or make a garden if you can as that is the best healing. All the best bright brave young man.

  3. Brian says:

    I would like to add that prevention is better than treatment. This deals with more than parents putting a foot down on gaming. Social structures need to be stronger which encourage kids to spend more time together with less addictive entertaining things to do. The opportunity also needs to exist for an outlet from being bullied. I’ve turned to gaming before for both of those reasons. We all know that bullying can be part of life, but it shapes kids’ futures.

    Forms of punishment for addiction often hide the addicted individual from seeing other potential in the world. Instead of making them feel guilty, invite them to do something new, that may appeal to them. Encourage and reward them for doing something different. Outdoor sports are not always the answer, as addition can follow. When you’re not able to feed your addiction to that, one may feel withdrawal and turn back to gaming. It’s easy to come back to gaming because it is everywhere, cheap, personally rewarding at times, and socially engraved for many.

    I struggle with this addiction when I move to new places that lack social structure, especially as I am in my 20′s.

  4. Narek says:

    I’m addicted addicted to one game,and spend over sixty hours in the game per week. I take breakes in between and eat normally. It does effect my social life, I don’t go out a lot. My mom is always angry when Im playing.

    It wasn’t like this a year ago. I was always outside ingage in phiscal activity. I really enjoyed parkour. But because of parkour I broke my ankle. After laying bed for a week Ithiught maybe I could do something fun and thats when I started playing games.

    Now I only play one game and I have maxed out everything but itis still fun. I know spending 8 hours in the game is too much. Their are no treatment centers in my country. Is there anyway I can limit myself. I think max 2 hours a day would be a good limit. Can I achieve this with will power?

    It effects my school work a lot. I have no motivation to sit down and study.

  5. ak-wife says:

    My husband has been playing video games since he was a young teenager, and when we got married he still played every once in a while. But we were nineteen when we were married, so I thought as he got older he would slowly out grow video games. Last year in October we started to fight, and he started to spend all of his free time playing video games. He stopped talking to me, locked his cell phone, and would hide in our bedroom. In late november I manged to check his cell phone and found out that he had been texting a girl since the fighting began in October. He was going to move to her state and take our son with him. I was broken, I asked him about the girl and the last few months. He had been trying to push me over the edge so I would leave him. That way he wouldnt feel bad for wanting to leave our marriage. She was a girl he met in his online video game. we agreed the best way to fix what was broken, was to change things in our lifes. He still plays online, he still talks to her online but only as “friends” and he gos out of his way to talk about how happy he would be if he was single and free from the mess of kids, and the large bills that follow. He seems only happy when his playing online, when his not playing online he talks about good times playing and he cant wait to log back on soon. Will things get better? When I tell him he plays too much, he just gets mad and says he never gets time to himself, which isnt true because I cant talk him into doing anything outside of the house. Im not sure how to appreach him anymore. are we fixable or broken?

    • Zalph says:

      I think that is a serious problem. You might want to ask him how he feels about you.

  6. Elainia E. says:

    Yeah I know some people that exhibited these symptoms to the letter when City of Heroes an online MMO got shutdown.Many are still “grieving” over it, as they put it, even after over 4 months of closing. Many even compared it to losing a family member and some said it was worse. Not sure how a game is more important than a family member but to them it seems to be the case. While some people brought it up and suggested that some should seek help, especially after some said they are going to commit suicide or fell into depression, they angrily lashed out. Like an addict, many dont like being told the truth and being told that wantign to cause harm to yourself over a video game or to others is not normal healthy behavior. I hope, the ones that are still around, seek the help they need soon or it might be a long road in life ahead of them and a video game closing as unfortunate as it is, does not mean the end of the world.

    They can although it may be hard to near impossible in their mind, to find a society and people in real life that is willing to support them and help them get over this unhealthy behavior if they are willing to open their eyes to the reality of the situation and realize the unhealthy nature of their behavior. It will probably take some time, and probably wont be easy but it doesnt help when they surround themselves with fellow addicts that are living under the delusion that wanting to kill yourself, sinking into deep depression, wanting to do bodily harm to other people and thinking losing a game is worse than losing a close family member is healthy like the group on cohtitan.com. While losing a game to some may be crushing, when it gets to a point when they want to do things as decribed above, and surrounded by people that htink the same, some may actually go out and carry it out over a video game. And hurting someone physically or themselves is not going to bring the game back.

  7. Tiffany P says:

    This is my problem….I’m not the game addict, sure I may play them occasionally, but not to where I’m spending 80% of my time on a game. My mom however is another story. For about 5 years my mom has chosen a computer game over me and my 3 siblings. Her and my father have no relationship it’s like they broke yet never have divorced or moved out. My mom lives in our living room. I find her passed out with her headset and computer screen on. She has stayed immobile to the point where a couple years ago she almost died from a blood clot in her leg. You’d think she would take that as a sign to do something different but she has only gotten worse.
    I physically have chronic pain from a soccer injury. I have migraines, back, shoulder, and neck pain, and even face pain, PTSD, and depression/anxiety. I am only 23 soon 24…when I need to see the doctor or be rushed to the ER from an allergic reaction to a medication my mom gets mad and drives insanely because she can’t take being without her computer and games. She paces, loses her temper and takes it out on anyone over a game. I wish she would get help and be the mom I once knew…the one who cared and would put being a parent over anything else with pride. She was even going to school to be a teacher or possibly coach….but she’d be up all night with her game and never ate or slept so she failed a course and was put on academic probation.
    I love her…but I honestly don’t know if she loves me or any of us. when someone tells her to get help she gets angry and says it’s everyone else with the problem. My mom doesn’t drink or do drugs…but computer games are just as potent and deadly as those things. I had to write her a note telling her she stunk so she would stop and bathe…her food …honestly I barely see her eat let alone go anywhere. I feel like I am watching my mom slowly die….and nothing I say has made a difference to her…. :(

  8. William says:

    I sat down with my four boys ages 10 through 17 and I read this article to them and asked them to read parts of it. We read all the way through the comments of Zalph below. If you print the article and print the first 20 pages that is about what you get. At first they were rolling there eyes at me. I had them turn of the video games and come into the family room. They have been at those games from morning until 5:30 PM hen I called the meeting. The discussion went well. They all seemed to recognize they had an addiction. We agreed to limit video games this summer between the hours of 7pm to 11pm. We also agreed that we are to turn them off as soon as they start fighting.

    I hope it goes well. Thanks for the article and thanks much more for the amazing comments.

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