Is My Child Addicted To Gaming?
Kids today have unprecedented access to technology and devices, which can be both positive and negative. Having access to the Internet and using tablets and smartphones can provide a wealth of educational opportunities. The dark side to all this access is the potential for obsessive behaviors. Video games and Internet gaming tend to lead to addictive-like behavior, and it can start early. If you’re wondering if your child spends too much time playing games, learn more about the potential for addiction and how to curb it.
Are Video Games Addictive?
Experts in the field of addiction have debated the existence of so-called behavioral addictions for years and how they compare to chemical addictions. The latter refers to a “true” addiction to a mind-altering substance like alcohol or illegal drugs. A behavioral addiction is considered to occur when someone exhibits addictive behaviors with respect to anything other than drugs or alcohol. Some of the more common behavioral addictions include gambling, sex or pornography, shopping and eating. Behavioral addictions can cause similar symptoms to chemical addictions, such as withdrawal, lack of control and impulsiveness.
Internet and technology-related behavioral addictions are naturally on the rise as more people have access to the devices that enable the problem. Gaming can become a behavioral addiction, although some experts might refer to it as something different, such as Internet gaming disorder or an impulse control disorder. In fact, one study has reported that as many as one in ten children show signs of addiction when it comes to playing video games.
What Are The Signs Of A Video Game Addiction?
So how can you tell if your child is at risk or already showing signs of addictive behaviors? The main criterion is that the gaming is interfering with a child’s life. This could mean that your child’s gaming is causing his grades to deteriorate because he no longer has time to study. It could be that he spends so much time playing games that he doesn’t interact socially with his peers outside of school. It could also mean that he has damaged relationships with family members because of his habit. Other signs of addictive behavior include a preoccupation with gaming, thinking about it constantly, playing whenever possible, and feeling restless or irritable when not playing.
My Kid May Be Addicted To Gaming, Now What?
If you see signs in your child that he may be addicted to gaming, try to cut back the amount of time he spends playing. Cutting him off entirely doesn’t make sense, but you should be able to limit his time by setting certain gaming hours. It is also important that you model responsible technology use because actions speak louder than words. Insist that everyone in the family turn off devices at specific times of day, such as over dinner or when studying. Seeing everyone cut back on technology will help your child to be able to do the same.
When you try to cut back and find that your child just can’t do it, or that his responses to the limitations are irrational and severe, you may need some professional help. The addiction itself may not be the root of the problem either. Some experts have found that, as with drug and alcohol addiction, compulsive gaming often masks underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety disorders. If you are concerned about your child’s use of video games and his overall mental health, see your pediatrician for referrals. You may have to get an evaluation and a diagnosis from an addiction specialist to truly get your child the help he needs.