When people think of an addiction, they usually think about recreational drugs or alcohol. While these two types of substances are common things people are addicted to, there are many other forms of addiction. One of these is video games. But, just because you play video games doesn’t mean you have a video game addiction. On the other hand, many people who truly do have an addiction don’t see or recognize it. So, in this article, you will learn more about video game addiction and what causes it.
What Is a Video Game Addiction?
The concept of being addicted to gaming is an old one, though studies that look into this have only recently been conducted. As of January 2021, up to 12 percent of teenage boys and approximately seven percent of teenage girls are considered to have an addiction to gaming according to an article from Newport Academy.
However, due to the pandemic, more people have shifted to gaming—specifically streaming and content creating. Twitch saw a sharp increase in the number of new streamers on the platform, most of which were playing video games. Similarly, YouTube’s gaming community increased as more people uploaded video game playthroughs (or “Let’s Plays”) in an attempt to make money and build a presence on the platform.
According to The Recovery Village, the average age for male gamers is 33, the average range for females is 37, and the age range of 18-24 years old makes up those most at risk for developing a video game addiction.
There is a difference between a gaming enthusiast and someone with a video game addiction. Studies that have been done created a list of symptoms for video game addictions:
- Playing or thinking about play video games most or all of the time
- Lying about how much time you spend playing
- Unable to stop or limit the amount of time you play
- Replacing gaming with other things you used to enjoy
- Problems arise in different areas of a person’s life due to gaming
- Continuing to play despite those issues
To be considered as having a video game addiction, you must have had most of these symptoms within a certain amount of time—several months to a year, for example. Noticing this addiction yourself is extremely difficult because, although it’s the outside influences of a person’s gaming that classifies it as an addiction, the symptoms have a deeper meaning.
Effects of Video Game Addiction
Additionally, there are effects associated with video game addiction. Some of these include poor posture, neglect of hygiene, underdeveloped social skills, attention difficulties, isolation, lack of exercise, and aggression.
Serious medical conditions can result from this addiction, such as:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Pinched nerves
- Sleep disorders
- Blood clots
Epilepsy and other seizure disorders can be affected due to flashing lights in video games. Deteriorating vision, hearing loss, and the degradation of muscle tissue are long-term effects of video game addiction.
What Causes a Video Game Addiction?
Addiction Center explains the cause of a video game addiction as “…[creating a place] where many people feel welcome, appreciated, and useful (something they may not feel often in the real world)… the sense of being part of something and having a role to play can be important and meaningful, especially if the player does not experience social gratification in real life…”.
Ultimately, the ability or lack thereof to stop playing a game when it begins to interfere with maintaining relationships or fulfilling responsibilities is the biggest sign of a video game addiction.
What to Do if You Have This Addiction
You may be unsure if you have video game addiction. It can be a challenge to know if it’s truly just a fun hobby, or if it’s something you struggle to go without. Thankfully, there are online blog forums that can clue you in on if you have a video game addiction. For example, the Mind Diagnostics blog posts about video game addiction (at https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/blog/video-game-addiction), are great resources to compare your own symptoms to.
If you or someone you know has this addiction, you should seek help for it. Last Door describes treatment for video game addiction as “…similar to treatment for other disorders – like substance use disorder…”.
Professionals don’t recommend cutting out video games if you have an addiction since the withdrawal from it can lead to aggression, among other things. Controlled use is one better way of containing a person’s addiction. For example, being addicted to mobile games would be nearly impossible to completely avoid because of how often we use our phones. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling are other methods of treating video game addiction. There is also the option of inpatient treatment centers. Places like this help addicts remove themselves from situations where they would normally be able to indulge their addiction.
Do You Have a Video Game Addiction?
Over the years, more attention has been given to video game addiction and studies surrounding it are being produced at an increasing rate. People are beginning to acknowledge the severity of what comes with this issue. At its core, video game addiction is still an addiction and should be treated as such. So, if you need help battling your addiction, consider signing up for therapy with a professional addiction counselor. They can help you fight the urge and give you tools to use when you can’t seem to stop playing video games.