Gaming is fun and, in moderation, it has actually been proven to have benefits to your IQ. But it can quickly become an addiction for some people. A lot of teenagers play games as though their lives depend on it. And it can be a problem which can impact your personal life and education if ignored.
Gaming addiction can lead to some young people skipping school, neglecting activities with their friends, and avoiding socialising to play games. But how can you tell whether you are just passionate about gaming or if you’re addicted?
What’s the Difference Between a Hobby and an Addiction?
It can be hard to know where the line is between someone who really enjoys playing video games and someone who is addicted. But there are signs you can watch out for.
- Irritability – do you get very irritable or angry, especially when you can’t play games or when you don’t win a game?
- Time spent gaming – how long are you gaming for? If you can spend hours at a time on a game and not realise, it could be a sign of addiction.
- Isolation – addicts often avoid social activities or spending time with family and friends to spend more time gaming.
- Education – is gaming having a negative impact on your school work and your performance in classes?
- Physical symptoms – a gaming addiction can also lead to regular headaches and tiredness.
What are the Warning Signs?
Gaming addiction can have several warning signs, including:
- Thinking about gaming all the time, even when doing other things
- Feeling irritable or anxious when you’re not gaming, or even feeling sadness
- Feeling a need to spend an increasing amount of time playing video games and feeling unsatisfied if this time isn’t achieved
- Losing interest in other hobbies or activities you used to enjoy
- Lying to friends or family members about how much you are gaming or gaming in secret
- Using gaming as a way of escaping a low mood
- Skipping school to play games
Why Do Gaming Addictions Develop?
Gaming addictions develop because our brains are wired for rewards. When we do well in a game, the brain’s reward system is triggered and we get a boost of happiness. In video games, when we hit a milestone or win a game, the same triggers happen in the brain. Studies show it can even provide similar effects on the brain as alcohol or drugs.
Some people also find the social aspect of gaming addictive. Playing with other people, whether in multiplayer games or role-playing games, can be immersive and engrossing. To reach different levels or explore new terrain within the gaming universe, gamers might spend hours to achieve success.
Teens addicted to playing games might feel like quitting early would mean they had wasted their time. So, they continue to try and reach their goal. Over time, this can lead to an unhealthy habit.
Video games are designed to be addictive. So, it’s not surprising that so many people become attached to playing them. They provide instant satisfaction and because they are so immersive, you can easily play them for hours at a time. Gaming is a social activity that creates an environment where you feel in control. This can be an addictive feeling for some people that they want more of.
The Impact of Gaming Addiction
There are a few negative side effects to gaming addiction that you might not be aware of. They can be short-term effects and long-term ones. But it’s important to treat your addiction seriously. Over time, gaming addiction can develop into other problems like depression and stress.
Gaming addiction can lead to physical issues, like headaches, dry eyes and backaches. These are caused by staring at your computer or TV screen for long periods of time and hunching over. But it can also make you quieter as a person. You might find that you struggle more in social situations because you spend so much time by yourself. It can make even outspoken people more reserved in real life.
This can impact your confidence too. Because you’ve spent so long in the gaming world, you’re not as prepared for the challenges of the real world. Gaming addiction can mean that you’re not able to develop important skills like social interaction and communication skills.
Spending time with friends and engaging in hobbies are important to your wellbeing and happiness. When you spend hours at a time in front of a video game, you miss out on these opportunities.
Gaming can also impact your education. Lots of young people who become addicted to gaming start to skip school or avoid doing homework so they can spend more time gaming. This can have a huge effect on your learning and can cause challenges in the future for you.
How Do I Treat My Addiction to Gaming?
It’s important to remind yourself that no matter what difficulty you’re facing, you’re not alone. Lots of people have found themselves in your situation. And they’ve overcome it. There is support available to help you.
It can help to speak to a therapist about your addiction. They can help you get to the heart of what’s making you addicted to gaming and help you find ways to manage your addiction. Your doctor can advise you about the different types of therapy in your local area.
There are also online peer support groups for gaming addicts. You’ll be able to talk to people who are in a similar situation to you and share tips and ideas with each other.
Remember that you don’t have to quit gaming forever. But taking a break until you can manage how much time you spend on gaming can help. Try taking a few months off. Take part in other hobbies and activities, like getting involved in a team sport or learning a new skill. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy trying new things. And putting some distance between yourself and gaming can do wonders for your mental health.