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Video Game Addiction: You Better Believe It!

Sep 6, 2008
Steve was never a gamer. He used to scoff at the guys and girls who used to waste their time playing video games. After all he was on the track team and was destined for Nationals. One day his friend Tom invited him over to check out a new game he had downloaded. At first Steve refused, but when Tom insisted, Steve reluctantly accepted the invite. It wasn't long until Steve was over Tom's house everyday. They would sit hours playing the same game. They would make online friends. Steve's grades began to slip and he began to grow insular and solitary. His parents did not know what to do. What happened to the Steve they knew? They would soon find out how bad a video game addiction really is...
 
Does your teen spend the majority of his free time indoors on the computer, only taking breaks for snacks and the bathroom?  Does he ignore friends, family, even showers, while his grades plummet and belligerence soars? He might have a video game addiction. 

When time spent playing video games reaches a point that it harms a child's or adult's family and social relationships, or disrupts school or work life, that person may be caught in a cycle of addiction. The Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence say video game addiction is becoming this country's most increasingly worrisome epidemic, comparable even to drug and alcohol abuse.  It isn't just affecting teenagers.  In older addicts, compulsive gaming can jeopardize jobs or relationships.  

Signs of Addiction

According to the Center for On-Line Addiction, warning signs for video game addiction include:

Playing for increasing amounts of time
Thinking about gaming during other activities
Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming
Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming

Physical signs of addiction include:

Carpal tunnel syndrome
Sleep disturbances
Back, neck aches
Headaches
Dry eyes
Failure to eat regularly or neglect personal hygiene

Addiction Dangers

As many as one in 30 computer game players have symptoms similar to those of gambling and drug addicts, psychologists say.  Even the most casual teen gamers are affected by video games and suffer from low self esteem issues compared to their more athletic and social peers. The studies also revealed, younger gamers were more likely to become lifetime addicts and social outcasts. 

Getting help

A support group called On-Line Gamers Anonymous is twelve-step, self-help organization and web site dedicated to helping those addicted to computer/ video/console/on-line games. They also welcome the gamer's friends and family.

You can call the OLGA Hot Line at 612-245-1115. 
 
The most important thing to realize when helping a person with a video game addiction is that he or she really doesn't think there is anything wrong. After all they have hundreds of friends (all virtual) and aren't abusing any substances. Patience is necessary when dealing with people with video addictions. One also must seek the help of trained addiction professionals. With love and support and of course awareness, a video game addiction can be overcome.
About the Author
Andrew Beckers writes about subjects important to humanity. Learn more about Video Game Addiction.
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