Video game addiction: symptoms, causes and treatment
The addiction to video games has become one of the issues that most worries many parents and mothers alarmed by the time their children spend playing this way of leisure. Although it is clear that the degree of dependence that can be generated with this type of entertainment is not comparable to the one that appears with the consumption of drugs, it is certain that the obsession with this activity can have serious consequences in the quality of life of young people .
In this article we will review the characteristics of addiction to video games, which makes it go from habit to a trap that is difficult to escape, and the methods used to intervene in this problem and break that vicious circle.
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What is addiction to video games?
Throughout the world, many young people have turned videogames into one of their main hobbies, in the same way that other cases are football or skating that occupy much of the time dedicated to leisure.
In fact, what was once a pastime with bad press and that was not well accepted socially, today has become normalized so much that there is a subculture that openly claims this kind of entertainment , and there are even tournaments and world championships focused on specific videogames; this is what is known as eSports).
However, the fact that many people value very positively the daily use of this form of entertainment does not make addiction to video games cease to exist.
The addiction to video games is what happens when the dependence on videogame games becomes so intense that they spend at least four hours a day on this activity, assuming this is the neglect of all kinds of obligations and responsibilities.
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Among the symptoms of addiction to video games include the following.
1. Social isolation
The addiction to video games enhances social isolation, which results in the loss of contact with friends and family. In turn, social isolation can be one of the causes that leads to addiction to video games, since these can be both solitary entertainment with which to spend time getting pleasure in return, and a means with which to interact indirectly with other people (in the case of online games).
2. Impairment of academic performance
The time spent playing does not invest time and effort in studying, which affects academic performance and delays learning of the skills and abilities that are promoted through education.
3. One of the games of video games as compensatory behavior
The use of games can be a resource for channeling stress and anxiety derived from other day-to-day problems, such as living in a broken family or the suffering of abuse at home or bullying at school .
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4. Loss of the notion of time
The addiction to videogames causes the control of time management to be lost, so that The ability to know the hours that have passed during games worsens and the fact that this delays other activities is lost sight of.
5. Pain and postural diseases
The fact of spending many hours in a row playing video games in front of the television or computer can lead to develop bone, joint or circulation problems , especially on the back, thighs and hands.
6. Bursts of anger at limitations to play
When certain situations cause the game to end or be hindered, this generates a level of frustration that can lead to outbursts of anger or even in physical aggressions against other people, as well as in blows against parts of the property or objects.
What makes us be hooked to the screen?
It is true that most video games are designed to be used during relatively long games, or to offer the possibility of playing several games in a row with very little delay. For example, those that offer immersive experiences , as The elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it is possible that the game lasts all afternoon, while in others, as Hotline MiamiEach game lasts from several seconds to a few minutes, although between one and the other you have to wait less than a couple of seconds of charging.
On the other hand, the mechanics of most video games are focused on giving rewards to progress and overcome tests.For example, beat certain brands or overcome certain enemies allows us to access new areas to explore or game modes that we had not unlocked. This, added to a curve of ascending difficulty (it is getting more and more complicated to advance, but at the same time we learn more and more about how to overcome the challenges of the game) causes that everything revolves around the operative conditioning.
Normally we can disconnect from this habit, but in other cases the desire to receive more rewards leads us to want to play more and more to the options offered by these games, without spending time thinking about other things.
On the other hand, addiction to video games, like many other forms of habit dependency , it leads us to fall into a dynamic that traps us and that, over time, makes the prospects of getting out of that trap worse. This is so because as we internalize the importance of playing games, the recurrent thoughts linked to that activity are becoming more frequent, and everything makes us remember those games or imagine how good we could be if we were facing to the screen.
Treatment of video game addiction
Beyond the psychological intervention conducted by professionals, which is the recommended option when addiction to video games is very intense, there are other measures that can help combat this tendency towards the abuse of games to computer games or video game consoles . The main ones are the following.
1. Prevent the purchase of more games
The fact of unable to access more games for an indefinite period makes the amount of rewards and new stimuli that are chosen is limited, so that playing all the time to the same is a tedious experience.
2. Invite to perform other hobbies
Occupying time in other activities helps to break the cycle of the game, since presents other routines and stimulating thoughts .
3. Limit the time
It is preferable to let play for a limited time to cut short the possibility of continuing to play, since the second produces such hostility that the situation is seen as a direct confrontation in which everything is worth to skip the norm.