Video Game Addiction: How Do You Know If You or Your Kids are Addicted to Video Games & What to Do
Video games are a $10-billion a year industry in the United States, drawing interest from children, teens and adults alike. From 70 percent to 90 percent of U.S. youth play video games, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). The "typical" gamer, however, is a 30-year-old male who plays the games for seven to eight hours a week, according to a 2005 survey by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
Because video games are becoming increasingly prevalent – a 2005 survey by Active Gamer found that males between the ages of 15 and 25 are the fastest-growing age group – the Council on Science and Public Health recently proposed adding video gaming addiction to a list of formal disorders, such as drug addiction.
A British study even found that 12 percent of 7,000 gamers polled met the addictive behavior criteria established by the World Health Organization.
A true gaming addiction has to do not only with the number of hours you spend playing (the AMA defined "heavy game use" as two or more hours a day), but also the impact it's having on your life.
Although the AMA officially declined to call gaming addiction a psychiatric condition in June 2007, the agency "remains concerned about the behavioral, health and societal effects of video game and Internet overuse," said AMA President Ronald Davis.
The Side Effects of Too Many Video Games
It's worth noting that the video games most associated with overuse are "massive multiplayer online role playing games" (MMORPG), such as World of Warcraft, which boasts more than 8.5 million players worldwide. About 9 percent of gamers play MMORPGs.
These games involve online interactions between players, and the highly social, competitive nature of the game quickly draws players in, often at the expense of their real-world lives.
According to the AMA report, it's likely that video game overuse, particularly among MMORPG players, occurs because the players "achieve more control of their social relationships and more success in social relationships in the virtual reality realm than in real relationships."
Other negative effects of video games have also been reported, including:
- An increase in aggressive thoughts and behaviors
- Increased risk of epileptic seizures
- Musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities
- Increased metabolic rate
- Loss of interest in family, school, work and other hobbies
What to Do if You're Addicted to Video Games, or Your Child Is
You can recognize an addiction to video games the same way you can recognize any addiction: it interferes with your life in a negative way. Symptoms of gaming addiction could include:
- You play the game for hours on end, and the time you spend playing is increasing
- You think about the game when you're not playing it
- You have missed important meetings/events because you were playing video games
- It's difficult for you to not play video games for a few days
- You try to sneak playing video games
- You have tried, unsuccessfully, to stop playing video games in the past
- Your family or friends have asked you to cut back on video games
- Your personal interests have changed because of video games (such as no longer taking your dog for its twice-daily walks so you can play)
- You have lost a personal or professional relationship because of video games
If you are addicted to the games, you may feel a sense of helplessness or lack of control when it comes to playing. However, you can regain control of the behavior by using the scientifically proven Sedona Method.
"By simply stopping and recognizing what is going on you are already interrupting the problem. Next decide to let go of the feeling that is motivating you to do something you know you will later regret," says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates.
With The Sedona Method, whenever you feel you are losing control you'll repeat a series of simple questions that will allow you to release. When you let go of negative thoughts or feelings, you will instead be filled with a sense of empowerment, confidence and freedom everything you need to get immediate relief from the effects of addictive behaviors.
If your child is addicted to video games, the key is to lead by example. You should cut back on your video-game time (if you play), then release the "need to play video games" together with your child.
"The best way to teach a child how to release is by example," Dwoskin says. "Children follow how you are and what you do – not what you say. So the more you live with releasing in your life the more your children will embrace it too."
Older children and young adults, of course, can easily learn the Method from a seminar, book or audio program.
Then, whenever you feel you are about to succumb to the addiction, Dwoskin says, simply stop and notice the habit arising in your consciousness, then let it go.