Do you often find yourself or your children hooked onto video games and wonder if this is turning out to be addictive? If your answer was yes, this one’s for you!
Video games can be part of a healthy life, but too often they’re not. Video games are addictive and can disrupt daily routines and create problems for the rest of our life.
Children get addicted to video games quite easily. This is a behaviour that can make parents quite worried. If you find that your child has fallen into the habit of playing these games for hours on end, then it might be time to take action. Obsessive gaming doesn’t only concern teenagers and kids, plenty of adults also tend to get pulled into video gaming orbit. Because they grew up with Nintendo and Gameboys, modern video games might be an attractive pastime for this group.
Read this blog to know all about gaming addiction, its symptoms, causes, how you can get this habit to stop and start doing something productive instead.
What is video gaming addiction?
Obsessive or uncontrolled use of video games, that causes problems in other aspects of an individual’s life, is referred to as “Video gaming addiction”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018, added ‘gaming disorder’ to the international classification of diseases in its medical reference book. It’s estimated that somewhere between 1% and 9% of all gamers, adults and kids face gaming addiction and it’s more common in boys or men than girls and women.
When does gaming become an addiction?
Not everyone agrees that video gaming is dangerous or addictive. Many individuals feel that video games increase imagination, offer the chance to work collaboratively, and enhance cognitive skills.
However, when individuals spend most of their time playing video games and don’t work, exercise, attend family events or social activities, the advantages of gaming seem less beneficial.
It has also been linked to obesity, poor sleep or insomnia, loss of social skills, eye strain, behavioural problems, including impulsive actions, neck and back problems, depression, anxiety, violence, etc.
What are some warning signs?
Here’s what to look for in someone close to you (your partner, a child, or a friend) or yourself. For gaming to be a serious concern you need to have five or more of these signs over the period of 1 year.
- Thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time.
- Feeling bad when you can’t play.
- Spending more time playing to feel good.
- Not being able to quit or reduce playtime.
- Not wanting to do other things that you once liked to do.
- Have problems at work, school, or home because of excessive gaming.
- Not being able to stop playing despite these problems.
- Lying to people about how much time you spend playing.
- Using gaming as a getaway to calm bad moods and feelings.
- Spending money on games even when you can’t afford it.
- Feeling irritated, anxious or angry when forced to stop playing, even for short duration.
- Ignoring your appearance, lack of interest in dressing up or clothing.
Of course, not everybody who plays excessively has a problem with it. Some professionals say that it’s unhealthy to interpret people who might just be very interested in gaming.
How to prevent gaming addiction?
To keep the time you spend on gaming under control, try these tips out for both adults and kids:
- At night try to keep phones and other gadgets out of the bedroom to prevent playing.
- Set time limits and stick to them.
- Perform other activities, including exercise.
- Make sure that your child is only playing games rated for their age.
How do people get addicted to video games?
A person’s inability to control the use of a substance or involvement in some behaviour, regardless of the negative consequences they might have to face because of it, is known as an addiction. So the question that arises in our head is why does this happen?
Our brain contains a reward center which releases dopamine as a reaction to pleasant experiences or hyperarousal. The brain associates the activity with dopamine when a person experiences pleasing feelings while playing video games, the person then develops a strong desire to feel that same pleasure again and again.
A lot of people also get addicted to gaming because of the way it is designed. The game designers are always looking for various techniques and technologies to make their games more fascinating to increase the time people spend playing them. Games are often developed in a manner that makes them difficult enough to be challenging, while also letting the players accomplish small goals/ levels that motivate them to keep playing.
What are some factors that increase how addictive the game is?
Games are designed with several hooks so that people keep playing them, these features make the game addictive and increase the risk factor of an individual getting addicted, these factors include:
- The High Score : The completion or the high score is one of the most easily understandable hooks. Trying to beat the high score (even if you are trying to beat your own score) can keep an individual involved for hours.
- Beating your Rival: When individuals compete with or against friends and other players from across the world online, the competition increases. Wanting to be the best and improving your skills also keeps one hooked to the games.
- Role-Playing: This allows players to actually create the characters in the game, there’s an emotional attachment to the character, and that makes it much harder to stop playing.
- Discovery: Exploring is most often used in role-playing games. Having something to discover brings thrills and can be very persuasive.
- Relationships: Playing games online with other gamers allows people to make friends and build relationships with other gamers. Feeling connected and involved draws a player back again and again.
How to deal with gaming addiction?
- Limit your screen time.
- Make healthy use of screens and video games.
- Consider unplugging when you first get home from work, at dinner and when driving.
- Try other modes of relaxation and entertainment, like going on a walk, keeping a party or binge-watching something.
- Promote a balance between your screen time and in-person social activities like family or co-curricular activities.
- Create a structured, screen-free time when you have food, in the mornings and before bedtime.
- Consider using applications and software that control the time you are allowed to use it.
- Make sure to leave all the devices to charge away from you, preferably out of bedrooms at night.
- Research about the age rating classification and only let your children play games suitable for their age group.