What Makes Video Games Addictive
Researchers and clinicians are beginning to take a closer look at exactly what makes video games addictive. To date, research has found that certain games and genres are potentially more addictive than others, meaning not all are equally likely to result in overuse.
Most research suggests that massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft and first-person shooter games like Call of Duty tend to be more addictive than other genres like platformers, brawlers, runners, and casual games.
What is becoming clear is that the most addictive games combine well-established psychological principles with play to encourage longer and more frequent sessions. In general, the most addictive video games:
What Are The Warning Signs
The American Psychiatric Association has identified nine warning signs to watch for when it comes to recognising gaming disorder. Although these can be helpful to better understand the severity of your own situation, its important to always seek the advice of a professional.
Prevention For Gaming Addiction
As with any addiction, behavioural or otherwise, the only way anyone can be absolutely certain of not developing a gaming addiction is never to play video games at all. However, such complete abstinence in those who have not developed an addiction may be overcautious: as mentioned earlier, as part of a balanced life gaming can be a harmless recreation providing a great deal of enjoyment and a good way of relaxing. Indeed, some studies show that some games enjoyed in moderation can actually be beneficial in terms of their impact upon problem-solving
skills, coordination and even general knowledge.For those who would like to participate in video gaming, but wish to take some steps to prevent the possibility of addiction developing, some safeguards can be put in place:
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Confessions Of A Video Game Addict
A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.
From “Problem Gambling and Video Gaming” issue of Visions Journal, 2018, 14 , p. 11
I was addicted to playing video games for over 10 years. Choosing to set gaming aside and move on to other things has taught me more about living a meaningful life than anything Ive done before.
Growing up, I was a fairly normal Canadian kid. I went to school, I played hockey, and then I would go home and play video games. I was happy, I felt smart, and I had friends. That all changed in Grade 8, when I began to experience intense bullying, both at school and on my hockey team. The less frequently I went to school and hockey practice, the more I played video games.
The new jobin retailgave me structure and stability. I had a schedule to follow, and accountability. Most of all, I had a second chance. Up until this point, my life had been a mess. I was withdrawn and unhappy, and I gamed to escape. Now I had the opportunity to turn things around. In order to do this, I knew I would have to quit gaming.
He returned with the game, and over the next 30 minutes he proceeded to absolutely destroy me.
About the author
Video Game Addiction Vs Avid Gamer
To a large degree, its often difficult to distinguish between a teen whos an avid gamer from someone whos addicted to it. If thats the case, you should look out for some signs such as irritability, especially when a teen is not able to win a favorite game.
Other symptoms may include spending up to 12 hours on a particular game and not even realizing it, signs of isolation, stress, and so on.
Gaming addiction also impedes academic performance and relationships, including severe migraines and tiredness.
The reason for gaming addiction is because the brain is wired to get a reward for a job well done. So the brains reward system is triggered so that a teen compulsively strives to get the reward of winning or reaching a milestone.
In a study conducted by California State University, it was clear that video games can produce similar effects on teens brains as substance abuse or alcoholism.
The amygdala-striatal system, which is the smaller part of the human brain wasnt so pronounced but more sensitive in gamers who spend hours playing games.
The Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games gets the players engrossed and immersed in real-time causing an unending loop due to the seemingly endless possibility of uncovering new terrains and levels in a game.
To complete each gaming level to get the reward, a gamer may spend extra hours trying to scale through.
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Luxury Video Game Addiction Facilities
If you are interested in an inpatient treatment center with amenities, you can find what you want at a luxury video game addiction facility. Such centers offer everything from massage therapy to gourmet meals. Many find that the luxuries offered at these facilities make recovery more comfortable, ensuring the individual stays in treatment for longer.
How Is Video Game Addiction Treated
Cognitive BehavioralTherapy can reduce problematic behaviors such as compulsive video game use by helping people to identify the template with which they view the world and to develop healthy ways to cope and adapt. Various forms of therapy and medications can treat the mental health challenges that often accompany addictive behaviors, such as depression and anxiety. Inpatient treatment centers and group therapy programs may also be valuable in certain cases.
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How To Handle Video Game Addiction
Children with a video game addiction need their parents help in reducing the amount of time spent playing games. This can range from taking games away entirely to a more moderate approach in limiting video game time. Discuss various options with an individual child to determine the best course of action.
Slowly limiting video game time is a good way to gradually get a child away from video games and involved in other activities. Signing a child up for a sport or extracurricular activity will provide an alternate outlet for activity, which can help reduce the desire to play games.
Set a one-hour time limit for games each day, and make sure the child can hear the timer when it goes off. If he wants to continue playing, simply subtract that time from the following days allotment. This is a simple way to create and reinforce limits on video game playing. A video game timer can help children develop a better concept of time when playing games.
How To Get Your Child To Stop Playing Video Games
One of the biggest obstacles that parents run into when trying to get their child to stop playing video games is when they say, âNo gaming for a week. Read this book insteadâ or something along those lines.
Nobody in that relationship understands that the child cannot enjoy and engage with that book â they just donât have the capacity to do that, not in the way that we do.
As a parent, you have to understand that when you give your child a small alternative to gaming, they will not be able to enjoy it. You have to pull them away from video games in a significant manner to get them to have a healthy dopamine-functioning brain.
The good news is that you donât need to shut down their gaming habit completely. It is enough to engage your child in a way that they find enjoyable.
For example, some people go whitewater rafting for a vacation. Whitewater rafting is a high adrenaline activity and that is why gamers tend to love it. It gives their brain a similar dopamine response as gaming. It is engaging, healthy, and something you can do as a family.
To break a childâs video game addiction, you need to give them a hard but engaging task. That is due to how video games affect the triumph circuit in our minds. Triumph requires adversity, so your child will be the most responsive to activities that are challenging, yet fun.
Dr. Kanojia talks about the problems parents face when trying to regulate their childâs gaming habit:
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How To Help Children Addicted To Video Games
How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games: A Guide for Parents
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The three golden rules that must be followed for any video game addiction intervention with a child to succeed
Physical Symptoms Of Video Game Addiction
- Fatigue: many people play computer games for very long periods of time indeed, as noted above gaming-related fatigue has been a factor in numerous deaths in recent years and often sacrifice sleep for the sake of continuing to play. This is especially common amongst those who work or attend college or university and who are therefore unable to play during working hours.
- Migraines: prolonged gaming has been known to spark off migraines even in those who have previously not suffered from them.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: repeated, very protracted bouts of gaming using manual controls such as drawing pads, keyboards or mice can lead to the wrist condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome, causing pain and tingling in the fingers and hands.
- Poor personal hygiene: some gamers allow their levels of hygiene to slip significantly as a result of their protracted gaming and/or because their isolation leaves them feeling that they do not need to make any effort in this regard. Some e-sports competitions have been obliged to post notices warning that gamers exhibiting poor levels of hygiene will be disqualified and removed from the venue.
Set Boundaries For Video Game Play
Any parent of a young child with ADHD knows that these kids often lack the capacity for self-regulation. This is particularly true when it comes to pleasurable activities that invite and reward hyperfocus. Thus, parents must be the ones to set and enforce limits especially with children who have already become used to video-game overuse.
Both parents must first agree on a set of rules. This task is often the hardest. How long can our child play on school nights? Must homework be done first? Chores? How about on weekends? Which games are forbidden entirely ? If our child wants to play Internet-based games, which sites are OK?
Sit down with your child to discuss the rules and explain how theyll be enforced. Lets say, your daughter is allowed to spend 30 minutes playing computer games on school nights. She can begin playing only after shes finished her homework and completed her chores . Then announce that the rules start now.
Are There Positive Effects Of Playing Video Games
Its important to address the positive effects of playing video games because there tends to be a lot of skewed opinions floating around. Some people argue that all video gameplay is negative while others shout an ongoing list of benefits from the hilltops. If we want to get to the bottom of this question, we need to turn to science, which is exactly what Daphne Bavelier and her team did.
In Baveliers TED Talk, she addresses some of the myths surrounding video gameplay. She also discusses what was actually discovered during a scientific study.
The first thing she mentions involves eyesight. Many parents and teachers fear that the constant glare of the screen must be detrimental to a persons ability to see. Baveliers team found that video gamers have, on average, better eyesight than people who dont play video games.
More specifically, they found that playing video games can train the brain to pick up more visual details. This can be very beneficial, for example, for drivers on a busy road.
Bavelier also discusses the idea that people who play video games have a hard time focusing on non-gaming activities. Ultimately, she found that video games do not create attention problems. In fact, they can actually enhance a persons ability to multitask.
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Symptoms Of Video Game Addiction
If you suspect that someone you care about suffers from an addictive gaming disorder, there are some important signs to watch out for. If youre trying to tell if someone has a serious video game problem, consider these questions:
- Are they becoming isolated from family and friends?
- Are they lying to others about how often they play video games, and do they often play in secret?
- Do they become upset and irritable when theyre not playing video games?
- Are they neglecting work or school to play video games?
- Are they avoiding activities they once enjoyed?
- Are they skipping meals to focus on gaming?
- Are they often tired because theyre not getting enough sleep?
- Do they have physical problems from gaming too much, like carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, and eye strain?
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Coping With Threats Of Self
All threats of harm should be taken seriously. A user may make threats to engage in self-harm when discussions involving limits or needing help are on the table. Do not take these lightly. Be direct and ask if they have a plan to harm themselves or others. If you suspect a person may intentional harm themselves, contact your local crisis line or your local police officer who may be able to conduct a safety check. By you taking action, a gamer may realize that idle threats are not the way to get you to leave them alone. Idle threats will often cease if the real intent is to keep you at a distance so they can keep video gaming.
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Emotional Symptoms Of Gaming Addiction
- Feelings of restlessness and irritability resembling withdrawal symptoms, when you are unable to play
- Thoughts are dominated by gaming even when you are not actively playing
- Becoming isolated and detached from friends and family in order to free up time to play video games
- Mood changes, often dictated by whether you are able to game or not
What Happens During Video Gaming
Just as theres no indisputable source for many process addictions, or a single cause that can be identified that results in addiction, more remains to be understood about what causes addiction to computer games or video game addiction problems. What we do know, however, is that playing video games is such an immersive experience that it may trigger massive dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical and neurotransmitter responsible for mood elevation. Dopamine also produces an energy rush, not unlike the bursts of energy and euphoric state created during substance abuse involving drugs or alcohol.
Unrelenting exposure to such stimulation can result in structural brain changes. For example, you may find that you no longer feel pleasure doing everyday things, or that only gaming is exciting and every other activity is boring. Changes to the frontal cortex caused by excessive video gaming may erode your willpower.
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Dual Diagnosis: Video Game Addiction And Substance Abuse
Because video game addiction has been linked to depression, sleeplessness and an overall lack of concern for ones own health, it is not surprising that substance abuse is also a problem for many gamers suffering from this compulsive disorder. For those suffering from video game addiction as well as substance abuse, proper treatment is imperative to recovery. If you or someone you know is currently suffering from one or both of these disorders, seek professional guidance immediately by calling us at .