How to Overcome Video Game Addiction
What is Video Game Addiction?
Video game addiction is simply being addicted to video games. Unfortunately this addiction is growing at a fast pace. While it may not affect the body directly like alcohol or cigarettes would, it can still devastate lives when people take things way too far when it comes to video games.
Truth be told, I once was addicted to video games. I let it ruin a lot of things in my life. I still play video games, but I learned how to enjoy them in moderation.
This article will cover the following:
Symptoms of video game addiction.
How to overcome video game addiction.
The tragedy of Shawn Woolley.
My addiction to video games.
How Often do You Play Video Games?
How many hours per week do you play video games?
Symptoms of Video Game Addiction
First, you have to identify if you or someone you know is addicted to video games. There are a few signs that will clue you in if someone has a problem:
- Spends a lot of free time playing video games. It may have just started to be a one hour a day thing, but then you notice the person spending every free moment playing a video game or doing something video game related.
- Neglects school or work. This one should be obvious. If the person calls in sick or stays home from school to play a game, then there is a problem. Having a vacation day from work isn't a bad thing, but skipping either work or school can be a bad thing if it's for a video game. I know, I skipped college for video games.
- Ignores family. Choosing a video game over family is always bad, and a sure sign of addiction. If kids are neglected, or a spouse feels alone, then there is a problem. Video games are never more important than family.
- Lets their personal appearance go. Since the person is always playing video games, personal hygiene won't seem as important. The more someone lets themselves go, the bigger the problem is.
- Health issues start to come up. If the person stays awake all night playing video games, has mood swings, etc., that could be a sign of video game addiction. A person can even die if they focus on playing video games without a break.
- Spends money on video games prior to the necessities. Obviously video games are the priority for this person, and not the things they need to survive. If the rent goes unpaid just so the person can buy the latest games, then there is a problem with addiction.
What Video Game Addiction Affects
What Video Game Addiction Affects
Feeling neglected and ignored. Feels like video games are more of a priority.
Feels ignored, friends eventually will go away after awhile.
Work performance suffers, could eventually lose job.
Gain weight, seizures, fatigue, etc.
Anger issues, depression, withdrawal.
Loss of income could result in not being able to buy food, losing house, etc.
Are You Addicted to Video Games?
Do you think you are addicted to video games?
If you don't think you are addicted to video games, take this quiz.view quiz statistics
How to Overcome Video Game Addiction
Fixing an addiction to video games, like all other addictions, can be a difficult process. However, in time someone can learn to enjoy video games without being addicted to them. The following tips can be used to curb a video game addiction.
- Don't stop cold turkey. Video games, unlike some other addictions, can fill in a lot of time. Stopping altogether may leave a huge void in your life, and cause you to relapse and sink more time into video games. The goal is to curtail how much time you spend playing video games.
- Play in moderation. Set a specific number of hours (or minutes) to play video games per day. Set a countdown on your phone. Once that timer goes off, you stop playing.
- Eliminate how many systems you own. Between console, handheld and other gaming systems, there just isn't enough time in the day to play them all. People try. Instead, only have one system you play games on. This will allow you to be focused on one system only, without feeling the need to play games on each and every system.
- Avoid MMO's. If you have a severe addiction to games, MMO's are the worst games you can play. MMO's are huge time sinks. People have been known to die while playing a MMO, since they play them for days at a time without a break.
- Take a break every hour. For each hour of play, stand up, walk around, etc. for a few minutes. It's unhealthy to sit in front of a screen for hours at a time without a break.
- Limit how much money you spend on video games. If you set aside $60 a month on video games, then for the most part you are just buying 1-2 games per month. If you limit your spending, you limit your addiction.
- Choose games with physical activity. Games are becoming more movement based. Some require you to stand and move your body. While they are still video games, they can encourage exercise.
- Include your family. There are a lot of video games that families can play together. Not only will it allow you to play a video game, it will include your family as well. Just remember to teach your children moderation, and if you have to, stop their game time as well. This may also increase an addiction, so it may not be the right way to go.
- Seek help. There could be underlining issues why someone is addicted to video games. Seeking a mental health professional is not a bad thing and is nothing to be ashamed of. You can talk to your primary care physician about it as well.
- Determine if there are other issues going on. An addiction to video games may be caused by something else going on in your life. The step above, talking to a mental health professional, can help you identify and possibly address that.
- Find other hobbies. Start a collection of some sort, do some gardening, etc. Something else to keep your hands and mind busy. Some of these you can also include your friends and family.
- Review your life. Look at your life as it is now. What could be better? Maybe there is a job you missed out on due to your video game addiction. Maybe you missed a child's event at school. Take those wrongs and try to make them right.
Know Someone Addicted to Video Games?
Do you know someone addicted to video games?
The Tragedy of Shawn Woolley
In 2001, Shawn Woolley killed himself. The online game of Everquest was running at the time of his death. It was his mother that discovered him dead. The mother blamed the game for her son's suicide, while the CEO of Sony disagreed.
There was no proof that Everquest resulted in his suicide. His mother stated he was addicted to the game and his suicide could be due to a possible love interest in the game. However, there is no concrete proof that was the cause.
Video game addiction may have played a big part. Shawn also had a lot of medical issues (mental health and physical), which could have been worsened by the fact he was on his computer all of the time. He also stopped working, stopped paying his bills, and stopping interacting with his family.
Who is to blame? That's hard to say. His mother tried to get her son help, and it was not Sony's responsibility to ensure people seek help. But this is proof that video game addiction is a real issue.
In 2002, Shawn's mother founded On-Line Gamers Anonymous to help others addicted to video games.
It's up to the addicted person's friends and family to confront the person about their addiction. They have to take responsibility as much as the addicted person. They can't just say, "It's only a video game." They have to step in and help.
My Addiction to Video Games
I had been playing video games for as long as I could remember. It caused major issues throughout high school, but I was able to graduate.
When I had my first job, around the age of 18, video games were becoming even more popular. The Playstation had just been released, PC games were becoming all the rage, and I had the money to buy a lot of them.
That same year I also started college. I would have had time to work on my studies, but I spent a lot of my time playing video games. My addiction was so bad that I would skip classes to go to work, just so I would have more money to buy video games.
Eventually, I dropped out of college and worked full time. My addiction, along with other factors, made me lose almost everything. I lost friends and family, and had no direction in my life.
In time I took ownership of my life, and put myself on a better path. I still play video games to this day, and I enjoy them a lot. But if I still had an addiction issue, would I be writing this article? No. I learned to play video games in moderation. You can too.
World of Warcraft Addiction
I'm not a mental health professional, just someone who has gone through this myself. If you want to talk, you can leave a comment below, ask a question through the Q&A option, or e-mail me at email@example.com.
© 2013 David Livermore