Video games can be harmless when played every now and then to take the edge off, but when do they become a major issue?

When does an innocent hobby become a serious, life-changing addiction? 

Even though video games have been around for almost 5 decades, they are one of the most rapidly evolving mediums on our planet and as a result, studies on the potential harms of video gaming have been very slow to develop.

Gaming addiction, UK and beyond, is likely to become more and more of an issue in the future as video games become more advanced, virtual reality gaming becomes more common, and more generations grow up with video gaming as a fundamental entertainment medium alongside movies, books etc.

What is Gaming Addiction?

Gaming Addiction

The World Health Organisation or WHO just recently classified “gaming disorder” as a real condition in late 2018.

Drawing the line between video game addiction and normal behaviour can be very difficult as video games are designed to encourage impulsive play in many ways.

Gamers can buy a new video game and spend hours on it every evening for a week or two, prioritising it over everything else, and then return to normal when they feel “done with it”.

They can also spend time practising their skills, discussing games with friends, working hard on getting to that next level, and even stay up late to play once or twice without being addicted.

What draws the line between harmless enthusiasm and dangerous addiction, is often the inability to switch these feelings off and get other important things done.

For example, one of the most common images associated with the idea of video game addiction is a parent asking a child to stop playing so they can come to dinner or help with some household chore, and the child aggressively refusing to stop playing.

While this happening once or twice can be genuinely harmless and only a symptom of getting too into something, if it happens regularly, you may well have a problem. Here are some of the signs you should be looking out for if you believe you or somebody you love may be suffering from video game addiction:

Gaming Addiction Symptoms

The most common symptoms of addiction to video games include:

  • Feeling annoyed or stressed when you can’t play
  • Constantly thinking about gaming when not playing, even when out and about or socialising
  • Neglecting friendships, relationships, work or schoolwork to play games instead
  • Lying about how much you play, or feeling embarrassed to tell people
  • Loss of interest in your old hobbies or interests – or just missing video games when you try to enjoy them

It’s important to remember that not everyone who plays a lot has an addiction – games are designed to be enjoyable and often reward you with milestones and achievements that can be enjoyable and rewarding to pursue.

But, if you’re doing this to the point that your video game addiction symptoms are negatively impacting the rest of your life and your relationships, it becomes a serious problem.

Luckily, there are ways to overcome this:

How to Stop Gaming Addiction

First, it’s a good idea to consider why gaming has become a problem for you and why you would like to stop.

Does playing video games prevent you from gaining and developing the relationships you’d like to?

Does it affect your work, or homework negatively?

Is there a chance you are using gaming to distract or protect yourself or from another issue, such as depression or social anxiety?

If you genuinely feel it is a harmless hobby and people keep questioning it or suggesting you play too much, it can be annoying and feel like it’s none of their business, but it’s important to remember these people care about you and aren’t trying to spoil your fun.

If people say things like this regularly, it might be time to put down the controller for a short while and really think about your gaming habits and whether they can be cut down without negatively impacting you.

If you realise they are right and you genuinely do have a problem, the first thing to remember is that you aren’t alone – there are sources of professional gaming addiction help and we are ready to provide judgement-free, expert help whenever you need it.

Video Game Addiction Treatment

Here at Rehab Clinics, we offer custom solutions for those suffering from video game addictions, including home treatments where you can regularly attend counselling sessions or support groups while remaining in the comfort of your own home, right up to full inpatient rehab treatments if necessary.

If you do require inpatient treatment to overcome your addiction, we have locations all over the UK to make this as stress-free as possible.

Video game addiction treatment typically consists of CBT alone, as this is the most effective treatment of addiction known, but in more serious cases treatment can involve:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Counselling sessions and other forms of therapy
  • Support groups
  • Holistic treatments such as meditation, yoga and acupuncture
  • Recommendations and referrals for video game addiction NHS treatments if necessary/available
  • Actionable steps such as limiting the hours per day when your video games systems are operable, moving your games console to the family living room, or in extreme circumstances, getting rid of it entirely

We offer all of this and more and are the best source of friendly, non-judgemental gaming addiction help UK and beyond, so get in touch now for friendly advice or to see what the best next step is for you!

Tips for Parents

If the person you’re reading this page for is your children, there are some steps you can take to both lessen the risk of a gaming addiction developing, and reduce the symptoms and aid recovery in the case that one does develop:

  • Set gaming time limits (e.g. 1 hour per night) and remove the console if they aren’t adhered to
  • Engage in other activities with them, for example, take them for a bike ride or to a sports class. Even going for a walk can reduce the time spent in front of the screen
  • Keep games consoles or PCs in the family living room, and keep their smartphones overnight, in order to prevent staying up and playing games while you’re asleep

Video Game Addiction Statistics

These gaming addiction statistics can help to paint a more clear picture of the problem globally:

  • 41% of people who play online video games admit they do so as a way to escape the real world (Source)
  • The most commonly recommended and most commonly used treatment for video game addiction is CBT (Source)
  • Video game addiction has a direct impact on academic achievements (Source)
  • MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) are much more likely to lead to addiction than any other genre or style of video game (Source)
  • Factors that can lead to video game addiction include the player’s curiosity levels, role-playing factors, obligation to online team members, and rewards for playing (Source)
  • In a large study of video game fans, around 12% were found to have some form of gaming addiction (Source)
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