Like many parents, the following thought has probably crossed your mind: “I wonder if my son is spending too much time playing video games?”
If you have to think about it, they probably are. That doesn’t mean your son won’t be able to function as a normal, productive member of society. But it could indicate the beginning of problematic use.
Our lives are busier than ever. While the onset of the global pandemic did its best to slow us down, we kept moving by substituting screens for what little personal interaction we were allowed. There was no way around it; technology was the only thing that kept many of us employed, entertained, and connected to the outside world.
None of us needed another reason to pick up our phones or devices—we were already holding them. But now, we had a renewed dependency on them.
Young people are experiencing the same phenomenon, but on an even deeper level. Most of us didn’t grow up with smartphones. We learned the basic principles of face-to-face conversations and socialization. Our kids, on the other hand, have not.
If you’re a parent or caregiver, here are four signs to look for that could indicate your son may be addicted to gaming, or the gamification of any app or platform:
1. Emotional dependency
- If your son moves from being anxious and grumpy to completely relaxed once their device is in hand, they may be exhibiting signs of gaming addiction. At this point, his screen has become his coping mechanism, suppressing his ability or need to develop healthy ways of dealing with stress.
2. Physical symptoms
- If your child becomes so lost in their gaming that they neglect their hygiene or self-care beyond what is age-appropriate, they may be addicted to their device. Other physical signs of addiction may include a consistent lack of adequate sleep, red or dry eyes, soreness in their fingers, achy neck or back, or frequent headaches.
3. Lack of interest in anything else
- It’s not totally uncommon for a child in the preschool or early-elementary phase to obsess over a specific game, character or show they love. However, as they grow older, their tastes should begin to broaden. If you find that your son doesn’t show signs of progressive development in their likes and dislikes, it could be a sign that their maturity has been stunted by gaming. If your child or teen has problems discussing anything other than their favorite game or gaming device, it’s likely a gaming addiction is developing or already exists.
4. Aggressive or isolated behavior
- While it’s not unusual for your pre-teen to blow off steam by holing up in their room to play the new game they downloaded, chronic displays of this behavior could indicate an addiction to devices. If your son has no other social life outside of their games, or if they become combative, aggressive or emotionally withdrawn when they don’t have access to their games, their relationship with technology has become an issue that requires further attention.
Fundamentally, every child is different. But if video games are causing a problem in their life, then they have a problem with video games. It’s as simple as that.
If one or more of these indicators describes your child, it’s possible they need assistance in reframing their use of technology. There are a number of resources available to help you coach your son into a healthy relationship with technology. And, simply taking away their devices is not enough, especially if their addiction is developed.
The possibility that your child has any type of addiction can feel overwhelming. But, you’re not alone and there is hope. We’re here to help.
Book Your Free Consultation
Kindbridge offers specialized counseling for gamers and their loved ones. We can help you create a plan of action and a personalized treatment program. To speak with a licensed professional and receive a free consultation, call +1 (877) 426-4258 or fill in an inquiry form.