Video games have been around for decades. They’ve come a long way from the first pixilated Atari games. So what if your kid likes to play them? It’s not like he’s addicted. Or is he? How do you know when your child is hooked on video games?
To answer that, you’ll have to keep an eye out for the signs which are similar to signs exhibited for other addictive behavior. While one or two signs on their own don’t usually signify a problem, be alert if your child exhibits three or more of them.
1. Game Preoccupation
If your child is addicted to video or online games, he’ll have an unusual fixation with it even when he’s away from it. He’ll talk about it incessantly and may seem disinterested, distracted or irritable with anything else.
2. Out of Control
A gaming addict cannot control the amount of time he spends on playing games. He may sit down, intending to only play for no more than 20 minutes and wind up continuing for hours. He may even try to tell himself just one more round or level and then he’ll stop but be unable to tear himself away. It’s quite common for those with addictions to online games to play through the night without realizing it until the sun comes up.
3. Noticeable Neglect
Because a game addict spends so much time on playing games, other areas of life are neglected. He may grow distant from friends and family who had previously been close. School work will suffer and a drop in grades is common.
4. Dishonest Accounts
When someone has an addiction to video games, they will often downplay how much time they spend using it. They may make up excuses as to why they were playing or blatantly lie about it.
5. Drug of Choice
Believe it or not, some kids use online games as a way of self-medicating. While drugs are certainly more deadly, an addiction to video games can be just as dangerous. Online games can offer an escape and as a way to avoid reality.
When confronted about the time spent gaming, an addict may become defensive. It’s especially worrisome if your child seems unconcerned that family and friends feel distanced and neglected.
7. Manic Money
Instead of saving money or even spending it appropriately, a game addicted child will spend unreasonable amounts of money on video game-related purchases, often exceeding what is necessary or what they can afford. While an occasional splurge for anyone is nothing to worry about, watch out for an all-consuming obsession with purchasing gaming merchandise, especially if it interferes with paying for necessary items.
8. Erratic Emotions
Gaming addicts are the same as drug addicts in that their moods can fluctuate quickly. Playing the game gives your kid the high he’s looking for. But once he turns off the game and comes down, he may feel guilty or even angry.
Playing online games might seem harmless, but game addiction can ruin lives. Kids who play four to five hours per day are playing too much. It’s hard for gaming addicts to stop too, especially because many games are played on the computer, which is something your child needs to use in order to complete homework. You must set strict limits on computer usage and monitor them. But don’t let it stop there – encourage your child to get into other outdoor, physical or group play activities to help them kick the habit.