The question of what is online gaming addiction often arises, coupled with questions about whether it is actually a real illness. Most people assume that addiction refers only to drugs or alcohol, but in reality, anything can become addictive if it interferes with everyday life. Addiction is a pattern of behaviour that has negative consequences for the individual and his or her loved ones. There is a real difference between liking something a lot and it actually being an addiction. The two tend to get muddled up, with many individuals believing that they are addicted to something just because they like doing it. When it comes to activities such as online gaming, addiction is very real and countless young people are developing habits that are becoming problematic to themselves and others. In this article, we will look at answering the question of ‘what is online gaming addiction?’. We will also look at those most likely individuals to be affected by it as well as the negative impact it has.
Can You Get Addicted to Online Gaming?
Over the last decade or so, there has been an explosion in technology, and the internet itself has become a common part of daily life. Almost everything that we do involves technology to some degree, and young people now spend most of their time glued to technological devices of some kind. It is not uncommon to see young people hunched over smartphones or other mobile devices, and even when groups of teenagers are in the same room together, they will spend more time on their phones than they do actually conversing with one another.
Playing with toys and board games has also declined thanks to the rise of the online video game. Teenagers in particular spend much of their time on the games consoles playing with friends who might even be in a completely different town or country. The internet and online gaming has made it possible for two people on opposite sides of the world to play a game together in real time; as such, this type of activity has become a massive part of millennial society.
Without any rules or regulations imposed by parents, it is easy for young people to get so immersed in their online gaming activities that they forget about other things in life, including eating and sleeping. Youngsters are quickly developing online gaming addictions because of this, but what is online gaming addiction?
An online gaming addiction is an impulse control disorder and it affects individuals in the same way that any other type of addiction does. There may not be as many physical symptoms as there are with substance addictions, but it can have a negative impact on the life of the person all the same.
The more video games someone plays, the more he or she can become obsessed with them and hence other areas of life may be neglected. Some players become so involved in the virtual world where they spend most of their time that they find it hard to make connections with people in the real world.
An online gaming addiction is a psychological one. There may be no physical symptoms when the person is prevented from playing games, but he or she may become irritable and angry because of a sense that they ‘need’ the game to make them happy or feel better.
Spotting the Signs of a Video Gaming Addiction
With the majority of gaming addicts being young children and teenagers, parents should be alert to the warning signs to prevent their child from developing an addiction that could ultimately ruin their life. The most obvious sign to look out for is a preoccupation with the game. If your child seems to want to do nothing but play a particular game, then he or she could already have an issue with it. You may notice that even when not playing the game, your child seems to talk about it constantly.
The behaviour of the child may also become erratic as he or she gets moody, irritable, and upset whenever not playing the game. He or she might start to spend more and more time in the bedroom playing games than in the real world with other people. If you have noticed the above, it is wise to try to restrict gaming time. If this is met with anger and frustration, then your child may already have a problem and it is worth seeking advice.
People who are addicted to online gaming tend to spend most of their free time playing games. They may lie to their family members and friends about what they are doing due to being afraid that if they tell the truth then they will have to cut back on playing time. The affected person might spend hours and hours playing games, forgoing sleep and eating. This can leave him or her feeling physically exhausted and it may interfere with their ability to perform well in school or at work.
Young children could become so tired that they cannot concentrate, and some will fall asleep during school. Others will fall behind on their homework assignments because they are so busy playing games. They may also lose interest in hobbies, sports, and other activities that they once enjoyed.
The Negative Impact of Online Gaming Addiction
There are many negative side effects caused by a gaming addiction. The biggest is perhaps the fact that the individual finds it difficult to function in the real world, instead preferring to spend his or her time in a virtual world.
Isolating behaviour is common among online gaming addicts. Those who develop an addiction to online gaming may start withdrawing from normal social life and start turning down invitations to spend time with friends and family members in favour of playing online games.
There are physical side effects that can occur when the individual becomes so obsessed with playing games that he or she goes for hours without eating or is not getting enough sleep. Fatigue and weight loss can occur and, in extreme cases, exhaustion and malnutrition.
When an online gaming addiction begins to interfere with the person’s daily life, it can ruin their prospects. Young people and teenagers will fall behind in school and their grades will drop, meaning their chances of reaching their potential can fall by the wayside.
Relationships with others will also suffer. Family members will often find it difficult to understand why their loved one continues to play games the way they do when it is causing such negative consequences. They fail to understand that their loved one cannot stop themselves from playing. This is due to changes that have occurred in their brain structure due to the addiction.
Treating an Online Gaming Addiction
When people ask us ‘what is online gaming addiction?’, they are usually inquiring on behalf of a loved one. It is hard to comprehend that this is an actual illness and one that their loved one may find difficult to break free from. Nevertheless, the good news is that, like other illnesses and addictions, an online gaming addiction can be treated.
While it is impossible to abstain from technology and the internet completely in today’s world, a detox from gaming is usually the first step on the road to recovery. To help the patient break the cycle of addiction, it might be necessary for him or her to attend an inpatient facility where there will be no access to video gaming.
During a programme of rehabilitation, professional counsellors will work closely with the individual to help him or her get to the root cause of the addictive behaviour. Family therapy sessions could also help the entire family to get back on an even keel.
It is typical for counsellors and therapists to use methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy to help the individual change his or her maladaptive behaviour. The way the addict thinks will have to be changed, which requires hard work and patience. He or she will have to learn to identify priorities and may need to learn that certain responsibilities in life should always come first.
It can be difficult to completely break an addiction to online gaming because it is so accessible due to mobile devices capable of accessing the internet. Treatment, therefore, is about teaching the individual how to set strict limits on game time and implementing tools and skills that will help them stick to these limits.
If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, please call us here at Addiction Helper. We are a referral service that works hard to help those affected by all types of addiction, including online gaming addiction. We will assess your situation to determine the severity of the problem and will work with you to find a treatment provider that will help you or your loved one.
Please call us today via our dedicated helpline to get started on the road to recovery. We will answer any queries you may have about your addiction and your options for treatment.