Around 3.4 billion people play video games worldwide and millions of Americans turn to gaming for relaxation, entertainment and connection. For most people, it’s a fun and sociable activity but for a small percentage of players, gaming can escalate into an all-consuming addiction which takes over their lives.
Video game addiction affects players globally, transcending age, gender and culture. The World Health Organization has recognized gaming disorder in its latest International Classification of Diseases and the American Psychiatric Association has included gaming disorder in the section of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), that recommends conditions for further research.
In this article, we highlight five telltale signs of video game addiction and explain how to get specialist support if you, or a loved one, are struggling to control your gaming.
5 Signs of Video Game Addiction and What You (or a Loved One) Can Do About it Today
The amount of time spent gaming does not necessarily indicate video game addiction. Some people play for hours, perhaps because they dream of becoming an esports pro, with no adverse effects. While others may game for less time to the detriment of everything else in their lives. But how do you know if your passion for gaming has crossed the line from healthy to problematic play?
Here are five signs that you, or a loved one, may have video game addiction:
1. You Are Unable to Cut Down or Stop Gaming
Do you feel compelled to keep playing, even though you are worried that your gaming is getting out of control? Have you tried to stop or reduce the amount of time you spend gaming without success? If so, this may indicate video game addiction, especially if you experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to cut down on screen time. These symptoms could include irritability, restlessness, anger, aggression, low moods, anxiety, depression, headaches, nausea and sleeping problems.
2. You Continue Gaming Even When it Causes Problems
If you have developed unhealthy gaming habits, the urge to play may feel overwhelming, even if causes significant problems in your life. People with video game addiction often lie about the amount of time they spend playing in the same way that people who are addicted to gambling or alcohol try to hide the extent of their dependency. Video game addiction can cause wide-ranging harms – that increase in severity as your gaming intensifies – at home, work or school, socially, in your physical health and mental well-being, and other important areas of your daily functioning.
3. You Have no Interest in Anything Else
When gaming starts to take over, you will probably lose interest in all the activities that once brought you joy. You will find it difficult to feel pleasure or get excited about anything other than playing video games. Over time, every area of your life will be impacted as you give up other hobbies and interests, withdraw from friends and family, neglect school or work responsibilities and abandon your day-to-day commitments. Gaming will begin to fulfill all the needs that were previously met in other ways – relaxation, socializing, creativity, challenge and achievement. All your energy and focus will be channelled into reaching the next level or climbing higher up the leader board.
4. Gaming is Impacting Your Mental Health
Players who are struggling in everyday life – for reasons which may include low self-esteem, bullying or rejection – sometimes use video games to relieve difficult emotions and experiences. If you are gaming as a coping mechanism, it can be an indication of unhealthy play. Studies have found that problematic gaming may result from attempts to relieve negative thoughts and feelings. Excessive gaming can also make you feel irritable, moody and demotivated, which can lead to mental health problems including social anxiety and depression. If the depression becomes severe, you may even start to experience suicidal thoughts.
5. Gaming is Affecting Your Physical Health
Have you ever forgotten to eat, drink, sleep, shower or exercise when absorbed in a marathon gaming session? Hours and hours playing video games – while neglecting your physical needs – can have a significant impact on your health. What may start as an occasional ache or pain can escalate into a wide range of problems. The first to manifest are usually dehydration, exhaustion, poor personal hygiene, migraines, eye strain, and neck and back pain. Longer-term you may suffer from more serious issues such as obesity and heart problems.
If you are worried that you, or someone you care about, may be addicted to video games, we can help.
Step 1: Take Our Video Game Addiction Quiz
The first step is to take our online video game addiction quiz to establish how gaming is affecting your life. Simply answer 14 short questions – it won’t take more than five minutes. You will then receive an instant assessment of your gaming habits and whether they are cause for concern.
Step 2: Book Your FREE Consultation
If the online quiz suggests that you are gaming problematically, professional support is recommended. At Kindbridge, we offer specialized counseling for video game addiction that’s accessible, affordable and convenient. Receive personalized treatment from a fully-licensed therapist in the comfort of your home.
Book a free 15-minute consultation so we can assess you needs and recommend a plan of action.