Videogame addiction has become one of the issues that most concerns many parents alarmed at the time their children spend playing this form of leisure.
Although it is clear that the degree of dependence that can be generated with this type of entertainment is not comparable to that which appears with the consumption of drugs, it is true that the obsession with this activity can have serious consequences on the quality of life of young people.
In this article we will review the characteristics of video game addiction, which makes it difficult to escape from the habit, and the methods used to intervene in this problem and break the vicious circle.
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What is video game addiction?
Throughout the world, many young people have made video games one of their main hobbies, just as football and skating occupy a large part of their leisure time.
In fact, what used to be a hobby with bad press and which was not well accepted socially, today has become so normalized that there is a whole subculture that openly claims this kind of entertainment , and there are even tournaments and world championships focused on specific video games; this is what is known as eSports).
However, the fact that many people value the daily use of this form of entertainment does not mean that video game addiction ceases to exist.
Video game addiction is what happens when the dependence on video game play becomes so intense that at least four hours a day are spent playing video games, which means that all kinds of obligations and responsibilities are neglected.
Symptoms of video game addiction include the following.
1. Social isolation
Video game addiction encourages social isolation, which results in loss of contact with friends and family. In turn, social isolation can be one of the causes leading to video game addiction, since video games can be both solitary entertainment with which to spend time obtaining pleasure in return, and a means with which to interact indirectly with other people (in the case of online games).
2. Worsening academic performance
The time spent playing means that time and effort are not invested in studying, which has an impact on academic performance and delays the learning of the skills and abilities that are promoted through education.
3. One of the video game games as compensatory behavior
Play can be a resource to channel the stress and anxiety derived from other day-to-day problems, such as living in a dysfunctional family or suffering from abuse at home or bullying at school .
4. Loss of time
Videogame addiction makes you lose control of your time management, so that the ability to know how many hours have passed during games gets worse and you lose sight of the fact that this delays other activities.
5. Postural pains and illnesses
Spending many hours at a time playing video games in front of the TV or computer can lead to developing bone, joint or circulation problems , especially in the back, thighs and hands.
6. Outbursts 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 physical aggression against other people, as well as blows against parts of the property or objects.
What makes us hooked on 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 time delay. For example, those that offer immersive experiences , such as The elder Scrolls V: Skyrim , the game may last all afternoon, while in others, such as Hotline Miami , each game lasts from several seconds to a few minutes, although you have to wait less than a couple of seconds between one and the other.
On the other hand, the mechanics of most video games focus on giving rewards for progress and passing tests. For example, beating certain marks or overcoming certain enemies allows us to access new areas to explore or game modes that we hadn’t unlocked. This, coupled with an upward curve of difficulty (it’s getting harder and harder to progress, but at the same time we’re learning more and more about how to overcome the challenges of the game) makes everything revolve around the operating condition.
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, video game addiction , like many other forms of habit dependency , leads us to fall into a dynamic that traps us and, over time, makes the prospects of getting out of that trap worse. This is so because as we internalize the importance of playing video games, the recurrent thoughts linked to this activity become more and more frequent, and everything makes us remember those games or imagine how much fun we could be having if we were in front of the screen.
Treatment of Video Game Addiction
Beyond the psychological intervention conducted by professionals, which is the recommended option when the addiction to video games is very intense, there are other measures that can help combat this tendency towards the abuse of computer or video games . The main ones are the following.
1. Preventing the purchase of more games
The fact that can’t access more games for an indefinite period of time limits the amount of rewards and new stimuli you can choose from, so playing the same game all the time is a tedious experience.
2. Invite people to take up other hobbies
Spending time on other activities helps to break the cycle of play, as presents other routines and stimulating thoughts .
3. Limiting time
It is preferable to let the game play for a limited time than to cut off the possibility of continuing to play, since the latter produces such hostility that the situation is seen as a direct confrontation in which anything goes as long as it breaks the rule.