Has anyone ever told you that you are addicted to video games or spend too much time on Facebook? What do they mean? Is Video Game Addiction real?
Internet Addiction Disorder, although new in the field of psychiatry, is defined as an impulse-control condition. Internet use becomes problematic if it absorbs too much time causing a person to neglect relationships, work, school, or other important things in life, or if a person keeps repeating compulsive internet behavior, despite negative consequences.
Geeks With Wives (GWW), a popular website and podcast, shares tips on how to balance your video game hobby with other responsibilities. Joe Barhoum, President of GWW, uses “a simple hierarchy of needs: family, health, work, fun. Before I sit down to play games, I ensure that these needs are met, and in that order. And I’m always willing to walk away from gaming to satisfy one of these more important needs. My cell phone is always by my side and my wife always knows when I’m gaming.” Andrew Barton, Editor-Games, gives similar advice. “I have several hobbies (mostly all geek related) and I tend to rotate through them, almost in phases. I may play video games a lot over two or three weeks, and then rotate into comic books, and then into television and movies. It makes things all the sweeter for when I return to a hobby after a couple weeks.”
The most common forms of this addiction are: online gaming, gambling, pornography, and social media. Online gaming addiction affects approximately 5,000,000 children, and children and adolescents are the most susceptible of developing an internet addiction disorder.Additional at risk populations include those that struggle with mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and other addictions. Individuals who lack social support, feel unhappy or stressed, or are less mobile or socially active as they once were are also vulnerable to IAD.
Behavioral signs and symptoms are:
- Losing track of time spent online
- Neglecting tasks at work or home to be online
- Isolating from family, friends and activities that were once enjoyable
- Feeling guilty or defensive about internet use
- Experiencing euphoria while involved in internet activities
Physical symptoms may include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Dry eyes or strained vision
- Headaches, neck or back pain,
- Disturbed sleep
- Weight loss or gain
Should parents stop their children playing any video games because of what they hear on the news? Kenney Newville, Vice-President of GWW, doesn’t think so. He says that “parents know their children better than anyone else, and know what kind of entertainment they can handle. There are many different genres of video games out there. They are not all shooting games, and many have no violence at all.”
So what can parents do to help their children keep a balance? Joe suggests that parents “focus strongly on a hierarchy of needs. Make sure the boxes are checked, literally, before allowing it. Always limit the time spent gaming. It should never be more than 1 hour at a time. Be willing to invest the time to learn what they’re doing with video games. Help them learn from what they’re doing. Games can teach you to have sympathy, to work as a team, and much more. Furthermore, if they enjoy gaming, maybe they’d enjoy programming or hardware design. Introduce them to the other side of the screen. They may find a brilliant career ahead of them.” Kenney also emphasizes “knowing what your child is playing. Don’t just go buy a game because it is popular. Know the rating on the games your child plays and know if your child can handle it.”
Do you think you have an internet addiction? Seeking help from a professional is the only way to be diagnosed; however, Dr. Kimberly Young developed the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ). Meeting five symptoms are necessary to be diagnosed, and there are several versions online you can take to register your online usage.
Want to cut down your internet use? Ask yourself why you use the internet so much, noting any underlying problems that may be contributing to the overuse. You can also strengthen your coping skills with life’s stressors, and surround yourself with a supportive network of people.
If you think you have a problem with any addiction in your life, please seek professional help.