Gaming is extremely popular especially amongst the youth and it can often become an addiction for real and a serious issue with rather severe dysfunction in several areas of life. Although the American Medical Association or other professional organizations have not recognized Gaming Addiction as a diagnosable disorder yet, but it is just a matter of time just like the American Psychiatric Association’s recent recognition of Gambling Disorder in DSM-5. Just like gambling and other behavioral addictions, addiction to video games is a serious problem with several ill effects on the often youthful sufferers. With invention of gaming consoles like, PS2, PS3, Sony PSP, Xbox, video games have become a lot more complex having almost real characters (thanks to fantastic graphics) which makes an individual, imagine he is in a world of fantasy and the world of the characters in the video game is for real! It is hardly surprising to note, that children nowadays prefer playing video games with their buddies than hanging out in parks and gardens and playing outdoor games. I know, when you hear the word addiction, you generally think of substance abuse like drugs or alcohol, but there are non-substance addictions too, and gaming addiction is just one of those! It’s a behavioral addiction!
Of course, I am not saying if you are a gamer, you’re an addict. NO! If you have a balanced life and you make time for everything, including school, college, assignments, your professional work, your family and friends, and then invest just few hours a week hours for gaming, you’re not an addict. But when you become a compulsive gamer, and it starts taking a toll on your personal and professional life; that is when the problem arises. Some studies have revealed that 10-15% of gamers show signs that meet the World Health Organization’s benchmarks for addiction. Just like other behavioral addictions like shopping addiction, gambling, etc., gaming addiction also results in addicts neglecting their families, friends and school/work. Videogames addicts suffer from isolation in the social circle, have intense mood swings, dwindling imaginations, and hyper-focus on unlocking achievements in the games, thus alienating themselves from the rest of the world, and living in their own cosmos of fantasy.
Check out the symptoms-
- You feel restless and uneasy when you’re unable to play
- You’re always occupied with thoughts of online game sessions and you wait for the next impatiently
- You lie to your friends and family about the time you spend on gaming regularly
- You isolate yourself from others to play games
- You experience fatigue
- Because of too much strain put in the eyes, and concentrating intensely on the computer screens, you develop a migraine problem
- Too much gaming takes a toll on your physical health
- You’re broke financially as you have to update yourself with new gaming equipments that are too costly, you need to pay your internet bills for online games, but nothing stops you still.
You’ll also be interested to learn that gaming addiction and depression are often present together. If you spend more time on video games, to combat loneliness and depression, it is actually doing you more harm than any good. If you have this situation and want to get rid of your gaming addiction, please seek help for your depression as well, or there is a possibility that the addiction will occur again.
First try to educate yourself. Read as much as you can on gaming addiction from reliable sources, utilize self-help techniques and try to determine if your favorite pastime has transitioned to an obsession or has further evolved into a full blown addiction. Accept what is happening to you and seek help. Any sort of addiction, be it substance abuse or behavioral addiction, is not good for anyone. If you have gaming addiction, most likely you’re otherwise a young and healthy person, so save yourself from the damage that can have lifetime effects. First try cutting down on your gaming hours, try keeping it a recreational activity not a mission or obsession, try spending more time with your family and friends and get involved in activities that would improve your physical health as well such as outdoor games, going for a walk, joining a gym, etc. However, if these simple steps don’t work, get proper help starting with your primary care physician or making an appointment with a qualified addiction expert. Treatment may involve use of proper medications, therapies and counseling sessions and other addiction recovery activities that will help you to pull yourself out of this dark and lonely world of addiction to gaming. All the best!