Signs That Your Child Is Addicted To Video Games And How To Curb It
Beachwood clinical psychologist shares warning signs and approaches to kicking the habit
CLEVELAND, OH – Does your child spend hours playing Fortnite? Do they obsess over Minecraft? Do you worry that this hobby is more like an addiction?
Dr. Jay Berk, a Beachwood clinical psychologist — who specializes in electronic gaming addiction and treatment — said its smart to be concerned, and smart to get ahead of a much bigger problem, if a childs habit is morphing into an addiction.
Here are nine signs your child is addicted to video games:
1. The child has an explosive, extreme reaction to having games taken away.
2. They are losing friends.
3. They stop participating in sports.
4. They no longer participate in things they used to like.
5. Content of games shifts to inappropriate subject matter, like anime pornography.
6. The child is stealing money to gain advantages in games.
7. Grades are dropping in school.
8. The child is falling asleep in class.
9. They continue to game, even increasing their hours, despite negative consequences.
To start addressing the problem, take away all games and phones at night, said Berk. And be sure to know the pass codes, and passwords for all their accounts.
Weve had kids violently attack their parents over video games. That would be in the extreme, of course, but I think mood swings, ripping up the place, things like that. So I think parents need to be prepared for that, said Berk.
But Berk warns, dont react in an extreme way yourself.
Helping Your Teen Balance Their Tech Use
If you feel that your son is exhibiting signs of gaming addiction there are ways that you can help him create a better balance in his life:
Validate that video games can be addictive. Dont judge his choices or make assumptions about his group of friends. It is a common hobby among teenage boys and many boys claim to spend an excessive amount of time playing games. Understand that brain activity spikes while playing and elevates their mood, which creates a reward loop.
Dont overreact or threaten to take away screen time. Like with drugs, going cold turkey may increase anxiety around video games. There are ways to monitor the amount of time they spend playing games without taking it away altogether. Although there is some debate around whether it should be used as a reward for completing chores or homework, guidelines around appropriate times of the day and an appropriate period of time may be helpful in limiting their use.
Dont enable them by giving in to buying new products. There is always going to be another product. They may choose to save up for something they want or borrow a game from a friend. It may be helpful to encourage them to play the game using a different character or technique or with different people to help keep the games they do have stimulating.
Engage with them. While playing by asking if they would teach you, asking to watch, or suggesting you play a different game together.
Clinical Attention Problems Scale
The scale measures the frequency of activity and attention by asking the parent and teacher to respond to a series of 12 statements and their applicability to their child in the morning and afternoon. Response options range from not true , somewhat or sometimes true , very often or often true . The higher the scores, the greater the attention problems exist . In this study, the Cronbach alpha values for the clinical attention problem in the morning and in the afternoon were 0.844 and 0.839 respectively.
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Not Everyone Agrees This Is A Disorder
While it feels like this classification is a fait accompli, the designation of gaming disorder as an addiction remains hotly debated.
The American Psychiatric Association is still not convinced. Two things are holding it back.
The first is that problem gaming often occurs alongside other factors such as loneliness, or mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. The APA argues problematic gaming may be a symptom of these, rather than a unique condition in its own right.
The second issue for the APA is the lack of strong evidence and research to support gaming disorder as an addiction in its own right.
Other experts have also weighed into this debate suggesting the classification is simply a response to the huge community concern and moral panic about video games.
Mistake #: Starting Young
The earlier a child begins playing electronic games, the sooner he or she is exposed to the patterns that lead to addiction. Children who become accustomed to junk food lose their appetite for healthy eating.
Similarly, kids also acquire a “taste” for certain kinds of recreation. Those who develop patterns of natural play rather than virtual play are more likely to become well-rounded, happy adolescents. Those who are introduced to the dopamine-inducing high of prolonged video-game play often become bored with any other recreation.
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Encouraging Balance When Your Son Is Addicted To Video Games
Video game technology seems to evolve by the month. Games that were cutting edge a few years ago, now seem antiquated. And teens are constantly on the lookout for the newest game or technology to use. We are just beginning to understand technology addiction and our societys reliance on screen time. Most research on the effects of video game addiction has been limited to its association with real-life aggression, which is inconclusive.
Some may argue that they pick up violent scripts from games, while others argue that people live vicariously through their characters and the outlet virtual aggression provides for feelings of anger however, if your son is addicted to video games, he is probably spending more time on the couch than fighting on the street. While video games began as simple mind games and upgraded to social arcade games, researchers believe that the accessibility of video games through personal consoles and devices has changed the nature of video games and made them easily addictive.
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.
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A Screen Is Their Mood Booster
If your child comes home after a bad day at school and needs a TV show or game to make him feel better or offer an escape, researchers say it could be a sign of screen addiction.
The study doesnt specify how many of these warning signs your kid has to exhibit to have an addictionor what to do if they do, in fact, appear to have an addiction. But if your kid checks off more than a few of these boxes, then it might be time to re-evaluate how screens are being used at home and to make an effort to wean your little ones off of screens before the dependency does damage.
Parents Can Stop Video Game Addiction
Rememberâ¦Your son does not have to accept that he has a problem.Your son does not have to want to change his video game habits.Yes, it will make your task much easier if he gains insight into the problem and can practice self-control. But, if this does not happen, you have the power, the authority, and quite frankly, the responsibility to impose tight restrictions on gameplay or the complete removal of the problematic games.
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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 .
Offer Alternatives To Video Games
Once youve reduced the time your child spends playing video games, find other ways for him to occupy his time no small feat when schools out.
Search out an activity he can feel successful at, one that taps into his strengths and talents. If team sports are difficult, look into a sport that emphasizes individual performance, such as swimming, martial arts, golf, bowling, or gymnastics.
Or look into non-competitive group activities offered in your area, such as an arts-and-crafts class, a summer drama troupe, or a nature club. And remember that few children enjoy anything more than a one-on-one summer outing with mom or dad.
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How Does Screen Time Affect Childrens Brains
Early data from a landmark National Institutes of Health study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brains
Enforce The Rules Of Video Game Play
At first, you may have to lock up the game or otherwise make sure that the game and its controls are physically unavailable when gaming is off-limits. When hes allowed to play, you can hand them over and remind him, Youve got 30 minutes.
When playtime begins, set a timer a visible timer, such as the TimeTimer , may be especially effective. Then, step in with periodic warnings: You have 15 minutes left,Ten minutes to go. When times almost up, announce, You can play for five more minutes. Then it will be time to save your game. Ill give you a few more minutes while I wait here.
If your child does well with the time limit for several days in a row, consider tracking his progress and awarding a few extra minutes at weeks end. Emphasize that, as he demonstrates greater responsibility, hell earn greater privileges.
If, on the other hand, your child continues to play, despite your step-by-step warnings, do not shout or disconnect the power or get into a wrestling match to take back the equipment. Such approaches will only escalate anger. Instead, calmly remind him of the rules.
Then announce that, for each minute he continues to play, one minute will be subtracted from the time allowed the next day. If you check on him after lights out and find him playing the game under the covers, he might lose the privilege for several days.
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Children And Teenagers Who Are Loved Unconditionally Don’t Become Addicted To Video Games
Ive been teaching unconditional love now for so many years to so many parents that I can tell you this with complete certainty: When a child truly feels loved unconditionally, he or she DOES NOT become addicted to games.
Instead theyre HAPPYand responsible, and have all those qualities you wish they had.
With sufficient love, there is simply no NEED to turn to video games and other unproductive behaviors. Happy people dont behave badlylike being addicted to their phone, for example. Period. Full stop. It seems almost like this statement is too broad, too much. Its not.
And You Want To Do Something About It
I know youve tried to change things: maybe counseling, certainly nagging, books, programs, yelling, controlling. But your child still buries their face in a screenplaying games and sometimes even trying to convince you that playing games in a team is real social connection.
And youre frustrated and tired.
Youve been looking for something that works, and here it is: principles that have proven to work hundreds of thousands of times all over the world.
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Why Do You Cover The Mirror When Someone Dies
You should cover the mirror in a house where theres been a death because the soul of the dead person wanders around for three days, and it should not see itself in the mirrorif this happens the mirrors will tarnish and never be clean again, or in days to come the mirror will turn and make a picture of the dead.
When To Worry And When To Let It Slide
Video gamers often wait for game releases for months and even years. Even if your teenager suddenly starts spending tens of hours a week gaming, it may be only because a new game has hit the market. Seeing a child spend more than 10 hours a day gaming, is certainly not a good sign, but it may not be as alarming. After a week or two, your child will get bored with the game and everything will get back to normal. However, if this behavior continues for a longer period, you may want to consider seeking professional help. However, screen time is not the only sign that may suggest that your kid may have a video gaming addiction.
It is not an addiction if your kid can stop playing when they/you want them to stop. Similar to watching a lot of TV or eating chocolate, your kid might simply be enthusiastic about a particular video game. You do not want to prevent your little one from being entertained or happy, do you? However, if a child has nothing else to say but discuss the latest video game and gets defensive or angry when you ask them to stop, that may be a sign that things are not going in the right direction and require your intervention.
Video gaming is often done online where players can communicate with each other, so keeping an eye on your little one is always advisable as those chat channels might sometimes be filled with inappropriate language or imagery.
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Relationship Signs Of Video Game Addiction
What Makes Internet Gaming Addictive
Multiplayer online games such as Everquest, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings, Company of Heroes, Guild Wars, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty and Halo 3, require the player to advance or level up. As tasks are completed, rewards such as increased abilities, better equipment and specialized skills are given, which gives a sense of accomplishment and improves self-esteem. These games involve a joint effort of several individuals o complete a mission. Individuals belong to cliques or guilds that are organized teams. The more successful an individual is at completing certain tasks, the more sought-after he becomes as a member of one of these teams. This satisfies the need for belonging to a group and gives a sense of power and status.
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How Gaming Disorder Should Be Treated
An important impact of the classification of gaming disorder as an addiction is it lays the path for treatment by health professionals.
But like the classification of the disorder, research-based treatment plans are also in their infancy.
A survey of psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand found only 16.3% felt confident managing the disorder.
Behavioral Signs Of Video Game Addiction
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Game Addiction Scale For Children
The 21-item Gaming Addiction Scale is an instrument based on DSM criteria to assess gaming addiction. The seven items in the GAS are rated using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5 . A higher score on the GAS indicates more problematic use of online gaming. The scale measures 7 criteria of computer addiction: salience, tolerance, mood modification, withdrawal, relapse, conflict and problems . In this study, the Cronbach alpha values for the GAS was 0.948.