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January 5, 2012

Understanding Video Game Addiction

More and more, kids (and even adults) are spending excessively long hours holed up in their bedroom or den playing video games. They forego dinner, forget about their friends, don't answer the phone, and lose sleep at night because they can't stop gaming. Video games, for some, can be just as addicting as gambling or even sex. Though not an "addiction" in the true sense of the word, video game addiction is considered a clinical impulse control disorder meaning, those who suffer from it have no control over their urges. According to the American Medical Association, up to 90 percent of American kids play video games and as many as 15 percent of them may be addicted. People who are addicted to video games have the uncontrollable urge to spend more and more time playing in order to get the same kind of rush that they used to. Eventually, it can become a compulsive act that the person no longer derives the same pleasure from, but it's so ingrained, they can't stop. They may even experience withdrawal symptoms, such as anger, violence, or depression. People who are addicted to gaming often fall into it as an escape from "real" life, or use it to cope with emotional disorders. People with gaming addictions can escape into a virtual world and forget about the real one. Kids who are unpopular at school can use role-playing games to be anything they want. It's a fantasy world, where they can be popular or in charge. It grants them control when they may otherwise feel powerless. Eventually their fantasy world may become more important to them than their real life. People with gaming addictions can spend more than five hours a day playing video games. When you spend that much time on the computer or using video games, there isn't much time for other things, like relationships, friendships, school or homework, extracurricular activities or work. It takes over your whole life. Spending an excessive amount of time playing video games doesn't necessarily mean you're an addict. Here are some warning signs to gauge whether you, or someone you know, might be an addict: thinking about gaming when you're supposed to be focusing on other things, like one's job, doing homework, or spending time with family. Spending more time playing games than doing anything else. Withdrawing from friends, family, or one's spouse to the point of disrupting family, social, or work life. Lying to friends or family about how you've been spending your time, and downplaying how much time you do spend gaming. Losing sleep or getting up in the middle of the night to play video games, or being unable to sleep because you can't stop thinking about gaming. Experiencing feelings of anger, depression, moodiness, anxiety, or restlessness when not gaming. If you think there might be a problem, there probably is. Talk to a mental health professional to find help in your area.

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Last Updated:
December 20, 2012