Going From Healthy To Unhealthy Gaming
Games stimulate the brain’s reward center â this is what makes it so easy to slip from healthy to unhealthy use without even realizing it.
âThe process is usually a gradual decline that can be hard to notice and easy to explain away,â Grammar says.
Examples include âplaying a little bit longer each time, starting to make more and more friends in the online gaming universe, and prioritizing the game over real-life engagements and activities.â
Craig, the 31-year-old gamer in California, says playing video games started as a way to bond with friends.
âIt seems like we were all super into gaming in middle school and even a bit into high school,â he says.
But soon, he found that his friends were more interested than he was in going to parties, playing sports, and doing other activities.
âI tried to get into that stuff, too,â he says. âBut whenever I went out with them, Iâd just think about how I wanted to be home gaming. So eventually, I really only had friends who were also interested in that.â
Seeking Help And Treatment
Video games have had a tremendous impact both positive and negative on the cultural attitudes, psychological development, and lifestyle choices of both children and adults. While these games can be viewed as a risk to players physical or emotional health, they have also been promoted as effective educational tools and have even been used for physical or cognitive rehabilitation in clinical settings. Yet for individuals who have become caught in a cycle of compulsive gaming, video games can become destructive.The growing popularity of video games has created a new awareness of the problem of compulsive gaming, which in turn has led to the development of treatment programs for this addictive process. Treatment for video game addiction focuses on behavioral modification therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy , that guide the client away from the obsessive thought patterns and obsessive habits of addiction. Group therapy is a valuable source of motivation and moral support, especially for individuals who have lost contact with friends or peers as a result of their game addiction. Family or marriage counseling can help educate loved ones about the disorder and create a more stable home environment.
I’ll No Longer Settle For Less That I Can Be
I’ll no longer settle for a life that I’m unhappy with. I’m no longer going to settle being alone in my life, not having friends, being insecure, or not having confidence. What really pushed me over the edge is when I wondered what my life was going to look like in five years from now or ten years from now, if I continued down this path. What would it be like? I thought to myself, I’m going to be even more alone, even more isolated, even more unhappy with myself. That pain of facing the truth will set you free.
If you can get to the truth, you can change anything in your life. Most people don’t want to face the truth because it hurts. It doesn’t feel good. It feels uncomfortable, because you have to admit to yourself that you are not enough. You have to admit to yourself that you are not happy. If you can get to the truth, you can confront that pain. That pain can drive you to make that decision to change.
When I made that decision, I got rid of my PlayStation. I sold it. I got rid of all my games. I got rid of my TV. I remember that I didn’t get rid of the TV right away, but I just disconnected it. I was like, You know what? I’m going to disconnect my TV. I sold my accounts. I got rid of everything. I made like a hundred bucks for all of the years that I spent building up these accounts. I didn’t really get much of a return for it.
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Video Game Addiction Treatment For Adults And Teens
Treating compulsive video gaming is similar to treating other types of addictive behaviors, and relies mostly on psychotherapy in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. Psychodynamic therapy can help the individual identify the driving factors behind their desire to spend so much time in social isolation. The individual may suffer from social anxiety and gaming provides a sort of detached, fantasy-based social scene that feels safe.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the compulsive gamer learn to control the impulse control issues related to the disorder. The irrational or dysfunctional though patterns that lead to the compulsive gaming can be reshaped and modified, leading to healthier thinking patterns and behavioral responses.
There is also a 12-step group called Online Gamers Anonymous that can provide a peer support environment.
Learn The Symptoms Of Addictive Gaming
Clearly, video game addiction is harmful. People who participate in it don’t have time for anything else. This is especially important for young children who don’t know how to interact with others socially. Still, just playing video games does not mean that you have an addiction.
It’s important to learn the signs of addictive gaming. Once you know what they are, you can learn more about your own behaviors.
Some of the more common signs of gaming addiction include:
- Feeling the need to play the games for increasing amounts of time.
- Thinking about gaming while participating in other activities.
- Using gaming to escape from stress or other problems.
- Using gaming as a way to cope with anxiety or depression.
- Lying to friends and family about how much time is spent gaming.
- Attempting to hide gaming activities from people you love.
- Becoming angry or irritable when trying to cut down on gaming time.
- Dropping out of other activities in order to pursue video games.
- Not spending time with friends any longer.
These symptoms only tend to get worse as time goes on. The individual may become even more isolated from others. It’s even common to spend hours gaming without eating or using the restroom. These behaviors are very dangerous, and they obviously indicate that there’s a serious problem.
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Natural Ways To Overcome Video Game Addiction
When treatment is sought, often many scripts are written for antidepressants to help with the symptoms. But this causes a raft of other risks and side effects, of course.
The idea that someone can become addicted to video games is certainly frightening. But its important to remember that this pathological playing is nearly always a symptom of something else.
If someone close to you is having trouble maintaining relationships or performing at school or work because of an obsession with video games, suggesting he or she seeks help is a great first step. Speaking with someone professionally, such as in cognitive behavioral therapy, can help that person work through the issues that might be prompting him or her to seek solace in video games.
In that therapy, the addict learns ways to see gaming as less important while developing better behaviors for the addictive ones.
Providing a listening ear can also be helpful. Telling someone he or she is lazy and needs to stop playing games is probably not going to cause that person to change his or her behavior. Instead, let him or her know that youre available to lend an ear when he or she is ready to talk.
Why Your Child Is Addicted To Video Games
Game creators work hard to hook players to their games. They use predictive algorithms and principles of behavioral economics to make the gamer binge.
Games become addictive because it triggers the brains reward system, and shapes a childs behavior. Studies made by the California State University found that video games can have a similar effect on childrens brains as drug abuse or alcoholism. The impulsive part of the brain, known as the amygdala-striatal system was smaller and more sensitive in excessive users so that it processed the stimuli of games faster.
Massive multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs immerse the player in real time because of the seemingly endless possibility of discovering more powerful loot or items. He is also enticed to complete events and achievements that requires a lot of gaming time.
Gamers who play games with social aspects, such as the World of Warcraft, spend the most time playing, sometimes for more than 40 hours a week even more than a full-time job. The social element makes gaming even more compulsive, and hard to quit. Social gaming satisfies the human need for being in charge, feeling competent, and feeling connected with others. Some online gamers even feel that they are duty bound to go online because others rely on them or their clan needs them for a scrim.
In many other games, the gamer works hard towards achieving a goal and quitting the game prematurely would waste everything the gamer has worked for.
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What Causes Video Game Addictions
The reasons behind video game addictions are very uncertain. Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes them, although there are some theories.
Much like gambling, playing video games is something that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the feel good chemical that everyone’s brain produces. It is something that you experience after you’ve eaten a meal, after sexual activity, or doing anything you enjoy. Dopamine is the chemical that causes you to feel happy and secure.
For gamers, they experience these dopamine surges when they’re playing their games, according to WebMD. They become addicted to that feeling and sensation. It can almost become euphoric in nature. However, this addiction is not one that’s based on physical components alone. It is also psychological.
Video game addicts will often use their gaming worlds to escape from reality. They are trying to change the way they feel. Their fantasy worlds provide this for them. They get to take on someone else’s identity as they play. This allows them to be virtually anything they want to be. After some time has gone by, the changes in the person are apparent. Their virtual lives become much more interesting and appealing than their real lives.
How Are Video Game Addiction And Substance Use Disorders Treated
Video game addiction is best treated using behavioral therapies combined with mutual support groups. Family therapy may also be recommended for children and teens suffering from video game addiction to help repair and strengthen family dynamics. Therapies for video game addiction focus on helping you experience a full social and emotional recovery since many cases of video game addiction stem from poor social skills, low self-esteem, and mental health disorders like depression.
Behavioral therapies can help you overcome negative emotions that may be driving your video game addiction, and reduce your boredom by helping you discover new, fun, healthy activities. These therapies also teach you how to manage and cope with stress more effectively and identify triggers that influence you to use video games as an escape.
Therapies for video game addiction:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- 12-step support group therapy
Therapies for video game addiction can take place in either an inpatient or outpatient rehab setting, though inpatient treatment is recommended to help you establish a new daily routine minus unhealthy gaming habits. Inpatient rehab can help you recover away from access to video games and negative influences in your life who may be contributing to your addiction.
If you or other members in your household play video games, here are steps you can take to lower the risk for video game addiction:
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But Heres What You Dont Want To Do
Dont internalize the problem by constantly telling yourself, Im a video game addict and beating yourself up about the ways youve behaved in the past.
Doing this just makes you feel more down .
And taking on addict as a self identity label gives you an out every time the going gets tough
Putative Reasons Of Distorted Perceptions Of Emotional States Associated With Vg Addiction
The social dimension of popular VG has been identified as one of the factors that may explain the addiction pattern . In this kind of competitive games, improving the required abilities and obtaining better results would be part of the key motives for VG play , that usually generates the appreciation and the acceptance of the other group players. Getting this sort of feedback from others can be motivating indeed, especially when taking into account the correlation between IGD and social isolation, low self-esteem, traumatic experiences, depression and low life satisfaction . In turn, these psychosocial characteristics are probably related also with the high impulsivity level in VG addicts , which has been found to be associated with difficulties in interpersonal relationships . Thus, it would seem that VG activities are, at least partially, sating the mentioned social and psychological deficiencies. This suggests that AUs emotional states related to VG play may be quite contrasting, in which components of happiness are intertwined with those of short-term pleasure . Now, craving for undertaking these cyber activities to respond to the mentioned social isolation issues places this emotional state much closer to the pleasure governed by desire than to atmosphere of good fellowship .
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When Gaming Becomes An Addiction
Not all researchers agree that video gaming is a harmful or addictive activity. Many people, including parents, believe that video games expand the imagination, give children the opportunity to work collaboratively, and sharpen cognitive skills. Yet when young people spend most of their time playing video games at the expense of schoolwork, physical exercise, family events, or social activities, the benefits of gaming seem less certain.
There is some controversy over whether video gaming is an addiction comparable to gambling, drug abuse, or alcoholism.
Psychology Today states that the comparison between video gaming and gambling is flawed, because there are no financial stakes or material losses involved with video games. Winning a video game requires cognitive skills and sharp reflexes, while winning at gambling is a matter of luck.
However, according to WebMD, video game addiction can be considered a type of impulse control disorder.
The source of the addictive quality of gaming is still unknown, but researchers propose that the process of playing and winning these games may trigger a release of dopamine, a brain chemical that elevates mood and provides a rush of energy. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter involved in other addictive activities, such as alcohol or drug abuse.
Discover Digital Tools To Help You Stay Focused On Your Goal To Control Digital Addiction
If theres chocolate lying around the house, then youre probably going to want to take a bite
If you suffer from problem drinking, a fridge full of beer will probably lead to late nights
The same principle holds true for gaming.
But FocusMe has some powerful tools that can help you to stay committed and stay focused on the most important task at hand.
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Many Parents Grapple With How To Get Their Kids Off Devices And Gaming Addiction Can Be Particularly Troublesome To Youngsters And Their Families
The World Health Organisation recently classified video game addiction or gaming disorder as a real disease and it is believed up to 16,500 Australians could be affected.
Gaming disorder is where players have impaired control and give priority to gaming over other activities, despite negative consequences.
Western Sydney University researcher Dr Joanne Orlando, who speaks regularly on this topic, says gaming addiction in children impacts family, social and school life.
But What About The Social Aspects Of The Game
One big struggle when limiting game play is the belief in the benefits of the social aspect of video game play. While there can be an exhausting power struggle and deep concerns from parents about video game content, middle and high schoolers are increasingly pressured into playing and using games like Fortnite to socialize. Video games can also be a social opportunity within families, with some mentioning that the only time that their kids get along is during game play.
Seeking socialization online is not harmful in moderation, but excessive gaming can impact kids abilities to cope in real social situations like school, play, and work, said Dr. Cash. The reality is that, more than ever, people are online, which is putting our kids at greater risk on many levels. Dr. Kennedy points out that its important that we dont fall into the idea that COVID has created a monster that we all just have to ride out around our tech. We need to support our tweens and teens to be healthy and invest in their wellbeing by setting limits and helping them navigate.
Gaming is never the only opportunity for socializing, even for our game-loving kids. If kids are seeking connection using digital tools, there are a number of different outlets for that including creative projects online, board games like chess, and simply talking or video chatting versus texting. And, of course, in-person socializing, even within the family, is the most important for all of us!
Whats Limbic Resonance?
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Adverse Effects Of Video Game Addiction
Designers of video games are shrewd, understanding that financial reward for their innovations are dependent on increasing engagement in the games by ever increasing numbers of players. The games are designed to be just challenging enough that players will remain engaged, attempting to gain high scores and ultimately win. The games are designed to provide the ABCs of basic human needs: Autonomy, Belonging, and Competence, keeping a constant stream of hope for the anticipated reward that is just around the next corner or on the next level.
The lure of winning and conquering, of becoming competent at a game can result in compulsive gaming. When a player becomes addicted to video games, their entire world revolves around playing time. They will trade off time with friends and family, miss important work events, and become socially isolated in their fantasy world. Their social scene becomes enmeshed with the people also playing the online game.
Compulsive gaming can exact a high price, including deteriorating health, depression, and sleep deprivation. Ultimately, depression and substance abuse may become co-occurring disorders with the gaming addiction, resulting from a decline in general well-being due to the consequences of the disorder.