Video Game Addiction: What is it and what are the Signs?

Gaming is not only fun but packs some amazing cognitive benefits such as improved coordination, concentration, problem-solving skills. However, it can also be addictive. Although it’s yet to be officially recognized as a diagnosable disorder, video game addiction is a genuine mental health problem.

According to the World Health Organization, it affects about 6 to 15% of gamers globally. Knowing the signs of video game addiction is the key to ensuring you or someone you know, for instance, your child doesn’t end up an addict. Below we define what exactly video game addiction is, and some of the most obvious signs.

What Exactly is a Video Game Addiction and What are the Causes?

According to WHO, video game addiction, also known as gaming disorder, is a form of internet or computer addiction, which in most part, is characterized by persistent gaming behavior either online or offline. The habit often causes the individual to prioritize gaming over other life interests regardless of the negative impact this causes in their life. In other words, video game addiction is the compulsive use of video games in a way that negatively impacts other areas of the gamer’s life.

What causes it? Well, while there are many causes, video games are usually designed to be addictive. They often feature elements and challenges that cause the player to keep on playing. Even if they manage to surpass a certain level, the game brings on another challenge for them to conquer.

Signs of Addiction

How do you cross the line between a gaming hobby and an addiction? Read on the signs of video game addiction below.

The older sister scolds her brother, who is passionate about computer games

1. Loss of Interest in Other Hobbies

Gaming takes over an individual’s life such that the only thing they think about and want to do is play video games. For instance, if your child previously enjoyed swimming after school, they’ll no longer be interested in that and will be heading straight to the gaming room whenever they come home. Other than a lack of interest in hobbies, individuals addicted to gaming also isolate themselves from their friends and family. This is because no one matches their energy for gaming.

2. Withdrawal When Unable to Play

An individual who is addicted to gaming tends to exhibit withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away, or when they are forced to do something else other than playing. For instance, a child who is addicted to gaming becomes extremely irritable, bored, sad, angry, or anxious whenever they are told to stop playing.

Teenager playing Fortnite video game on PC

3. Use of Games to Avoid or Escape Stressful Situations

When alcoholics are stressed, they often turn to alcohol to avoid or escape the stressful situations. The same case applies to addicted gamers. Whenever they’re slightly stressed, they’ll often run to their gaming room to escape the situation at hand.

4. Health Problems

Individuals addicted to video gaming spend so much time playing they end up being fatigued. They may also get constant migraines due to eye strain or the intense concentration gaming requires. They also neglect their hygiene.

Other signs of video game addiction include:

  • Justifying their excessive use of video games (others play more than me)

  • Feeling guilt after playing video games for extended periods

  • Poor performance in school or at work

  • The inability to stop playing despite seeing the negative impact of gaming in their lives

Although it may not seem like it, gaming disorder is an addiction like any other. Knowing the signs of video game addiction is the first step to conquering the problem.

Other Things You Can Do to Overcome Video Game Addiction

Addiction to video games can be a major problem that affects a person’s everyday life, relationships, and overall well-being. Knowing the signs of video game addiction may be the first step to overcome this problem. However, with enough effort and dedication, it is more possible to overcome by doing these things.

White notebook top view with small goals words on wood table close to pen and glasses

1. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is one of the most essential approaches to overcoming video game addiction because it gives your life meaning and direction. Instead of utilizing video games as an escape or diversion, you can channel your energy and motivation in a beneficial direction by concentrating on attainable goals.

Starting small and progressively increasing the difficulty level as you acquire confidence and experience is one method to create realistic goals. For example, you could begin by committing to playing video games for no more than one hour each day and then progressively reduce the amount of time you spend playing as you become more accustomed to the change.

2. Find Alternative Activities

Finding other activities can help you overcome video game addiction by redirecting your concentration and energy from gaming. When you are hooked to video games, it is easy to devote so much time and energy to gaming that it severely affects other aspects of your life. However, by engaging in alternate activities you enjoy, you can start to break the cycle and build a healthier balance.

You can attempt various alternative activities depending on your interests and what you enjoy. Physical activities, such as sports or going for a run, may assist some people in minimizing their gaming urges. Others may find creative activities such as painting, drawing, or performing music more appealing. And still, others might find that hobbies like reading, gardening, or cooking are a better fit.

Multi-ethnic participants on group therapy having meeting with their psychotherapist at community center

3. Most of the Time, Seeking Help is a Must

Seeking help is also an important step in overcoming video game addiction. A support system can help one feel accountable, encouraged, and motivated to make significant changes in one’s life. It is also beneficial to have someone to chat with about the obstacles and difficulties of breaking a video game addiction.

You can seek help from various sources, including friends and family, support groups, and a therapist. Support groups are especially beneficial because they provide a safe space where individuals can discuss their experiences with others who face similar difficulties. These clubs can offer a sense of community and friendship, as well as practical guidance and tactics for coping with the need to play video games.

Fitness woman doing stretch exercise stretching her arms

4. Start Practicing Self-Care

Self-care is an important part of overcoming video game addiction since it helps address the addiction’s underlying causes and establish a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Self-care entails looking after your physical, mental, and emotional health by participating in activities that promote well-being and relaxation. This can include exercise, proper diet, adequate sleep, spending time outside, and indulging in hobbies or interests other than video games.

Self-care exercises can help you reduce stress and anxiety, enhance your mood, and improve your general well-being. This can assist in limiting the desire to play video games because you will have other outlets for stress reduction and relaxation.