Do you have a friend or family member you see spending too much time playing video games? Are you worried that they might have an addiction? You’re not alone.
Video game addiction isn’t taken as seriously as drug addiction, but can impact people just as easily.
If you see signs of video game addiction in someone you love, it’s important to know what you should do to get help. Luckily, there are a few obvious signs you can be on the lookout for.
In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most common symptoms of video game addiction and how you can approach this with your loved one.
Is Playing Video Games Addictive?
If you’re wondering whether playing video games can become an addiction, you might be surprised to learn that the answer is yes.
Video games have the potential to be just as addictive as drugs or alcohol.
Like any other addiction, video game addiction can have negative consequences on a person’s physical and mental health, as well as their personal relationships and daily responsibilities.
While not everyone who plays video games will develop an addiction, it is important to be aware of the risks and warning signs to get help if needed.
Like all addictions, video game addiction only gets worse as time progresses.
Just like drugs and alcohol, video games can engage the reward center in the brain, which releases dopamine in response to “hyperarousal.”
If the person associates this dopamine rush with playing video games, the brain strongly associates the activity with dopamine release. The person then has a strong impulse to seek out the same activity more frequently.
What Symptoms Do Video Games Cause?
When someone is experiencing video game addiction, they might exhibit different symptoms. Many of these are similar to the effects of drug or alcohol addiction, particularly in the way that someone might withdraw from everyday life and neglect their responsibilities.
1. Withdrawal Symptoms
Similar to other types of addiction, a person with video game addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms when they cannot play. This can include anxiety, depression, and irritability. They might be prone to anger or outbursts.
These symptoms can be very difficult to deal with for the addicted person and especially for those around them.
2. Loss of Interest in Everyday Life
Someone who is addicted to video games may lose interest in things they used to love.
This could be anything from other hobbies to spending time with family and meeting up with friends. Video game addictions are known for consuming a person’s life and result in the addicted person having no interest in doing anything but playing video games.
3. Physical Symptoms
There are a few different physical symptoms that someone with a video game addiction might experience for prolonged hours of game time. These include mental exhaustion, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches.
You should be on the lookout for these symptoms in your loved one, particularly if you already know that they spend a lot of time online playing video games.
4. Ignoring Responsibilities
One of the most common symptoms of this addiction is ignoring one’s responsibilities. Someone addicted to video games is unlikely to care whether or not everyday tasks go undone. This is really what makes an addiction toxic.
They might stop showing up for work, stop taking care of themselves (including not eating or showering), and even stop caring for those around them. This is a destructive and unpleasant symptom of video game addiction.
5. Misplaced Anger
Anger is one of the most common symptoms of addiction. Someone who is addicted to video games might get surprisingly angry in normal situations, a feeling caused by their withdrawal symptoms. They might react poorly when confronted about their possible addiction, or when asked to spend time doing something else.
3 Signs a Person Might Have a Video Game Problem: Things To Watch For
If you’re wondering if a loved one has a video game problem, here are a few common signs of addiction that you’ll need to be watching for:
1. Increased Time Spent Playing Video Games
Someone with a video game addiction will spend most, if not all, of their time playing video games. They’ll wake up and immediately want to return to their console. It might be hard for you to distract them with other activities if you manage to engage with them at all.
2. Mood Changes
Someone with an addiction to video games is likely to experience intense mood changes. You could be spending time with them when they suddenly show signs of irritability, anxiousness, and depression.
Longing to escape the unpleasantness of these emotions, they will instead turn to their games. Losing a game might also trigger an emotional outburst. This can get worse as the common signs of addiction progress into something more serious.
3. Ignoring Negative Consequences
Video game addictions, like all addictions, have negative consequences. Stages of change in addiction could include:
- Losing once important relationships.
- Losing one’s job.
- Missing out on important activities and occasions.
- Decline in health and mental well-being.
These consequences are relatively severe. Someone without an addiction would, no doubt, try to remedy any of these problems. But, those who are addicted to video games might ignore or not care about how these consequences are impacting them.
At What Point Is Playing Video Games a Problem?
It’s important to remember that not everyone who plays video games has an addiction.
However, when the symptoms and signs mentioned earlier become evident and consistent in a person’s life, it may be time to seek professional help.
Playing video games might become a problem when gaming time begins to cause problems in everyday life. This includes lowered grades, losing their job or career, lack of ambition, and a lack of control over their gaming habits. These are major issues you should be on the lookout for if you’re helping somebody with an addiction.
How Do You Deal With Someone Who Has a Video Game Problem?
It can be difficult to confront your loved one or friend about their video game addiction and figure out exactly what needs to be done. Thankfully, there are a few places to start that make the process somewhat easier:
- Talk to them. If you want to help your loved one, the best way to do so is by having an open and honest conversation with them about your concerns. It’s very important to avoid any judgmental comments.
- Set some boundaries. If the person’s gaming habits negative impact their life, it’s essential you set some common sense boundaries. This might mean establishing a schedule for when they can play video games as well as times when they shouldn’t.
- Seek professional help when needed. If the first two steps haven’t worked, it may be time to encourage your loved one to seek professional help from a therapist or addiction specialist. Professionals have more experience dealing with addiction and can provide personalized support and guidance.
- Always provide emotional support. No matter what happens, ensure that you provide the emotional support your loved one needs. Addictions are difficult to recover from, especially if they have been going on for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about gaming addiction, specifically:
How many hours of gaming is considered an addiction?
The number of hours that signal a video game addiction can vary. Generally, if you see your loved one playing more than 20 hours of video games a week, there might be an issue.
However, just the number of hours they spend playing games is not enough to determine the basis of addiction. You should also consider mental health, well-being, and personal interactions when judging if they have an addiction.
Is 7 hours of gaming too much?
Seven hours of gaming per day might be too much depending on other factors within the person’s day-to-day life. If gaming interferes with daily responsibilities, such as work or school, and they refuse to cut back on gaming time, it may be a clear sign of addiction.
Additional Addictions To Watch For
Here are some other types of addiction to look out for:
- Signs of Social Media Addiction: Those who experience anxiety or depression when unable to access or check social media might be addicted.
- Signs of Cell Phone Addiction: A few of the most common signs of cell phone addiction include feeling anxious or irritable when separated from your phone, excessive checking of notifications, and using your smartphone when you should prioritize your loved ones instead.
- Signs of Shopping Addiction: Shopping addiction may include spending excessive amounts of money on items that are not necessary or needed. It might mean feeling a rush or high when making large purchases and having difficulty controlling the impulse to spend.
Video game addiction is a real problem that affects more people than you might think. Adolescents and teenagers are particularly susceptible, as they might spend more time gaming online with friends.
If you understand the symptoms and signs, you can better identify them in those struggling and prevent a dangerous progression of addiction. Seeking help is always the first and most integral step toward recovery from any addiction.