Boys with ADHD have a higher risk for video game addiction, according to a study completed at the University of Bergen (Norway) and published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors in April 2016. While internet and video game addiction is not listed as an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, it is identified in the newest edition as “a condition warranting more clinical research and experience” to determine if it warrants inclusion.
Researchers found video game addictions were associated with ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. Playing video games for long periods provided an escape from symptoms and gave players a way to “calm restless bodies,” according to Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassan, the lead author of the study.
Warning signs of video game addiction
There are a number of warning signs that playing video games has moved beyond simple entertainment and reached a level of addiction.
Your child thinks about playing games most of the day. When not playing, he talks about the game and can’t wait to get back home to play. He might experience cravings or become irritable or anxious when unable to play.
He avoids or loses interest in other activities. This includes procrastinating or not completing school work, missing days at school or work, ignoring obligations and responsibilities in order to spend more time playing.
Your child spends more time playing, _ giving up other activities because they interfere with time for gaming. Some children might forego basic hygiene in order to gain time for online or video games.
He spends increasing amounts of time playing games. As with other types of addictions, your child might need a bigger “fix” to feel satisfaction. For example, he previously played games for one to two hours a day and now is playing for four to five hours, or longer. He doesn’t seem to have fun playing, but still feels the need to play.
You have tried to reduce the amount of time he spends playing games but he finds ways to play by lying about doing homework or sneaking on the computer.
Your child rearranges his daily schedule to make sure he has time to play games. He might get up early to play before school or do his homework on the bus so he is free when he gets home.
He makes excuses to be online, lies about how much time he spends gaming or downplays the time spent on video games. He becomes defensive when someone asks about his gaming habits.
He spends money on games, accessories or upgrading his computer or gaming system. HIs whole focus for making money is to purchase these items.
He often losstrack of time, planning to play a game for an hour and then realizes he has been playing for several hours.
Most people use video games as a relaxation tool and have the ability to control how much time they spend playing. However, if gaming interferes with social relationships, school or work or financial security, then it can signal there is a problem.
Preventing video game addiction
What can parents, friends or family members do if they notice someone they care about exhibiting some (or all) of the warning signs?
_If you are trying to prevent video game addiction in your children , you need to set and enforce limits, even if that means disabling or locking the computer or video game system except for certain times of the day. Other steps you can take include:
Limit total screen time to one to 2 hours a day. This includes television and computer time. Make your child responsible for choosing where he spends his allotted screen time. If necessary, disconnect the computer or gaming system when the time is up.
Discuss what responsibilities must be completed before your child is allowed screen time. This might include homework, chores, sports or other extracurricular activities.** Use parental controls** _ to set time limits, monitor use or to prohibit certain games._ Today’s games can be quite graphic and violent. Decide which games you approve of based on your child’s age and rating systems for games.
Make sure your child actively participates in activities offline, e.g, , sports and social events with friends and peers. Be sure to include activities in different environments to give your child the skills to adapt to a variety of different situations.
Create a list of at-home activities your child can do when not on the computer. Use unplugged time to teach your child to cook, play with siblings, play outdoors, plant a garden, read a book or engage in creative play. The more engaging activities your child can find around the house, the less time he will be on the computer.** Teach your child how to cope**_ with and manage his emotions. _Some children use video games as a way to escape disappointment and other negative emotions. Provide your child the skills needed to manage these emotions. If necessary, seek professional help.It is easy for parents sometimes let their child play video or computer games for an extended amount of time. When your child watches television or plays video games, you get a break. However, the long-term consequences of extensive screen time can be sever, and perhaps even disastrous.** See More Helpful Articles:**Slideshow - 7 Ways to Manager Your Child’s Video Game Addiction
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbaileyand on Facebook at eileenmbailey.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.