Let’s talk about how to know whether your child is addicted to video games, and what to do if you believe they might be.
We all know what addiction is, and there are some we’re more familiar with than others. Countless suffer from alcohol and drug addiction, and our hearts hurt for them and for their families as they fight to get healthy. But, addicted to video games? Can that be true?
Do You Think Your Child Is Addicted to Video Games?
First, there is some debate on whether gaming is a true addiction.
Currently the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), describes Internet Gaming Disorder as “a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion in the main book as a formal disorder.”
WHO, the World Health Organization, has added Gaming Disorder to the section on addictive disorders.
Second, the scientific community hasn’t agreed on how many people this affects. We simply don’t know yet. I’m certain time will tell us everything we need to know about being addicted to video games.
Playing Those Games Make Kids So Happy. Here’s Why.
Video games trigger the release of dopamine, the feel-good chemical that humans love. People know the bright lights and exciting sounds in a Vegas casino were created specifically to keep us playing. Why? Dopamine.
It’s our dopamine that produces those feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and human beings will do just about anything to get that feeling.
Do you think your child might be playing too many video games?
Answer these 10 quick questions to help you decide.
1. Is your child missing out on things because he doesn’t want to leave his game? If they miss any real-life experience or event because they don’t want to turn the game off, that’s a concern.
Going so deep into a game that it’s actually become something they’d rather do than hang out with family and friends can be problematic.
2. Do they play video games when something upsetting is happening in their lives? They may be far too dependent upon a game to self-soothe.
We all have things we do to calm ourselves down and chill out. Maybe yours is something like knitting or drawing. If we aren’t careful though, we wind up soothing ourselves with things that aren’t healthy – like eating mindlessly or sitting in front of a video game.
Working on coping skills with your child is a good idea. You can share some of the ways you handle different types of stress that are helpful to you. Have a conversation about ways to handle the stress that may be helpful for them.
3. Is their schoolwork suffering? If they are telling you they don’t have homework because they’d rather play on their PS4, it is concerning. If you see grades slipping, it might be time to cut back on game time in favor of studying.
4. Are they grumpy when they aren’t allowed to play? When you tell them it’s time to turn off the game, do they turn into a bundle of anger?
When their emotions are so raw because of a game, parents may need to help. Find ways to teach them to manage their playing time so that they can enjoy a game, turn it off, and move on with their day.
5. Do video games keep them awake when they should be sleeping?
Night time play is probably not the best idea for anyone, adults included.
6. Are they experiencing physical problems? Do they complain of a sore wrist, back or neck? What about headaches, blurry vision or dry eyes?
Video games can cause all of those symptoms. Give your doctor a call.
7. How much exercise are they getting? Insist they turn the game off and get some physical activity. More importantly, exercising is a fantastic, scientifically proven way to get that dopamine release they are craving.
8. Are they showering? Brushing their teeth? When someone starts to ignore basic hygiene because they can’t break away from a game, it’s time for a talk.
9. Are they being less than truthful? Lying is a pretty good indication that video games are becoming too important in your child’s life.
10. Do they play for hours on end with no breaks? Everyone needs boundaries in life, and kids are no different. If they are left to their own devices, some kids will probably play until they can’t go anymore. Set those boundaries for them.
What are your thoughts on this subject?
Are you worried your child is too caught up in games? What are your main concerns? How do you keep control of your child’s access to games? We’d love some great tips we can all use with our kids.
Sher Bailey is a writer in the Midwest who believes the power of humor, Mod Podge, and grandkids can fix most problems in life. You can find her at SherBailey.com.