Video Gaming Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention

guy video gaming in dark room

It’s not out of the ordinary for a person to depend on materials, habits, etc. to cope with difficult situations. Unfortunately, these temporary mechanisms become hobbies, and eventually addictions. One such harmless hobby that has now turned into a worrisome agenda for doctors around the world is video gaming.

Remember the times when an occasional Nintendo gaming spree with your friends could light up your mood? Could you have ever imagined that something as light-hearted as playing video games could turn into something you could get addicted to? While video gaming is over 50 years old, it is only recently that the World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” as an addition to its medical reference book, Internal Classification of Diseases.

Turn out, video gaming has become a real problem for many in the United States of America. 64% of the US population are gamers, out of which 1-10% suffer from compulsive addiction. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to recognize those suffering from it and help them get past it.

Signs and Symptoms of Video Gaming Addiction

While the statistics about gaming addiction reveal huge numbers, the definition of the disorder varies across different regions. This might lead to confusion when it comes to narrowing down the people whose playing habits fall into addictive ranges.

Nonetheless, here are some of the signs to watch for in:

  • Do they think about gaming almost all day?
  • Are they unable to put a game on hold for a while?
  • Do they ignore important tasks to play video games?
  • Are they having problems at work, school, or in relationships due to gaming?
  • Is there a willingness to spend money and time to play video games to feel good?
  • Do they feel bad or restless when not playing?
  • Do they lie about the amount of time they spend playing games?
  • Have they deserted other habits just to focus on video gaming?

If you can match more than four of these signs, a gaming disorder may have developed. make sure to address the issue right away, you never know when it might become a topic of concern and lead to a decline in mental well-being.

Paying close attention to the signs mentioned above will reveal that there are little to no physical symptoms of video gaming addiction. There are, in fact, compulsive gaming issues despite experiencing negative consequences due to playing video games.

So, there is a thin line between being highly involved or enthusiastic about gaming and being addicted to it. The difference lies in whether you prioritize gaming over other more noteworthy problems.

Definition of Gaming Disorder

The WHO defines gaming disorder as:

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:

1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that it takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and

3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, relational, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met, and symptoms are severe.”

One of the main problems associated with video gaming addiction is a sleeping disorder. A potential addict is likely to suffer from sleep deprivation and drowsiness throughout the day. Not just that, due to constantly staring into a screen, there is a chance of spinal disorders and weak eyesight. Some other physical signs include fatigue, migraines, poor personal hygiene, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you spot these problems in your friend or yourself, you need to immediately halt gaming.

Causes of Video Game Addiction

Video games are designed to bring adrenaline rush and keep the player coming back for more. These games are fashioned by expert designers in a way that they challenge the player to reach the next level by putting in more effort. Moreover, they are sometimes so planned that you might feel like you’re almost there, but there will always be something keeping you from cracking it.

Some People Are More Susceptible to Addiction

As we mentioned, there is only a certain fraction of it that suffers from addiction instead of the entire gaming population. But why is that so? What causes some people to be more prone to developing a gaming disorder more than others?

Most of it has to do with mental health problems, including anxiety. At the same time, it is likely to be a hereditary as well. A few people simply experience fewer temptations or have more self-control than others.

The environment you are in also plays a role. Perhaps computer games, especially the ones that can be played for free, are a way to relax after a long workday that a low-salary individual can find, making it simpler for them to get caught in it. The ease of accessibility to the internet has also made it easier for people to play online.

How to Prevent Video Gaming Addiction?

In closing, we would like to suggest some measures to help kids and adults prevent falling in the trap of gaming addiction.

  • Decide a time limit and stick to it when playing video games
  • Practice physical fitness. Exercise every day to reduce the risks associated with playing on a screen for long stretches
  • When going to bed, keep your gadgets and smartphone in another room to restrict playing through the night

Keep these points in mind and take care of those who are at risk of being addicted to gaming.