Video games offer a wide variety of genres and experiences that are fun for just about anyone. Among other benefits, gaming challenges your mind and enhances your problem-solving skills. However, like almost anything that engages the reward system of the brain, gaming can become an addiction for certain individuals. This is not to say that all people who play video games are addicted though. Check out some of the facts to determine if you or a loved one is experiencing gaming addiction and learn how gaming addiction can be treated.
Depending on your knowledge of video games, you might have heard they are a hobby for children and teens, but research shows that just under half of adults play video games. Studies have also shown that over 80% of youth in the US play video games. About 8% of teens and children appear to have signs of gaming addiction.
Gaming addiction defined
An addiction to playing video games is a viable disorder. Mental health professionals have found the signs and symptoms of gaming addiction are similar to those seen with behavioral addictions, like exercise addiction.
Signs of addiction usually include excessive game play in conjunction with gaming disturbing normal life functions. If the person is addicted, they will often have trouble thinking about other activities and will be anxious or irritable when they are not gaming. For those who are seriously addicted, gaming tends to interfere with school, work, socializing, and hygiene. You might notice signs that gaming is getting in the way of necessary tasks and you will see physical signs, like changes in weight, poor hygiene, and carpal tunnel syndrome or excessively sore thumbs from hours of playing. Gaming addiction causes a person to feel they need to play video games more over time.
Gaming addiction feels rewarding
The causes of video game addiction have been studied. Research shows that playing increases dopamine activity, which is part of the reward system in the brain. This type of reward sensation in the brain is also seen in drug addiction. The brain forms an association between video game playing and the increased dopamine levels, which is a key factor in forming an addiction. There are theories that gaming addiction is sometimes used to escape dealing with real life problems. If the game contains excessive violence the gamer might be trying to find an outlet for their anger or aggression.
Treatment for gaming addiction
Luckily, there are specialized treatment centers for individuals who develop an addiction to gaming. If you feel that you or someone you know might have a gaming addiction, seek professional treatment. Newport Academy is an excellent facility that treats teens with substance and behavioral addictions. They can help with video game addiction since their proven methods address the underlying issues causing the behavior.
Gaming can be fun and a perfectly safe hobby for many people; however, it sometimes becomes an addiction seriously disrupting normal life. Look for the signs that someone you know has a video game addiction and talk to him or her about seeking treatment. Just like other addictions, gaming addiction can be overcome with professional help.