The video game industry is thriving, vibrant and ever-transforming. Whether you enjoy racing, shooting, role-playing or reality games, video games help you relax, unwind and have fun. They provide vast worlds to explore and a wondrous slew of characters to adore. Plus, the benefits of video games include improved hand-eye coordination, memory, and spacial-reasoning skills. What’s not to love? But while up to 67 percent of households own video games and share this enthusiasm, too much of a good thing can go very sour. How do you know when you’re controlled by a video game addiction? Look out for these 5 signs of a video game addiction.
1. You’re only happy when you’re playing.
When you spend all of your time gaming, you don’t have the time or desire to invest in other forms of enjoyment and self-fulfillment. In fact, you may become restless and irritable when away from the games. Even though you cherish your family, you let precious time with them slip away while locked to the screen. Online gaming adds another dimension to the addiction. You get anxious that you’ll be left behind if you don’t dedicate enough time and effort to the game. This is why gaming addiction is so detrimental and needs to be confronted; while the virtual world has no limits, your real life does.
2. You think almost constantly about your current game.
What do you think about as you eat dinner, struggle to fall asleep, or sit at your school or work desk? If your thoughts are ensnared incessantly by your current game, you may have a problem. This obsessive focus may prevent healthy connections, detract from school and work quality and rob you of valuable sleep. If you find yourself planning every aspect of your day around gaming time, I urge you to seek help.
3. You spend most of your time gaming.
If your gaming console or computer spends more time with you than your friends or family members do, you may have a video game addiction. I know that some online relationships can be wonderful, deep and rewarding. However, it’s best to interact with friends in person, too, because according to the Mayo Clinic, friends boost your happiness, improve your self-confidence, reduce stress, and help you cope with traumatic life events. Even as an introvert, it’s essential to partake in a variety of activities to keep the brain sharp and make the most out of life.
4. You lie about the time you spend online.
Hiding or lying about the time or money you spend on gaming is a sure sign of addiction. Just as alcoholics lie about how much they consume, deception indicates that you know there’s an issue but are unable to admit it. This may be out of shame or because you don’t want your gaming lifestyle threatened. Some gamers will sneak in sessions late at night, sacrificing much-needed sleep or intimacy with their partners. If you find that you’ve turned to deceit to fuel your gaming and that others are being hurt by it, you should take a hard look at the reality of this situation.
5. You neglect your body but not your games.
Gamers with an addiction stay up late or wake up during the night to play. With no time to prepare fresh, wholesome meals, they may resort to junk food and toxic energy drinks. Some might neglect showering and personal hygiene or develop physical ailments such as carpal tunnel, back pain, headaches, and dry eyes. If you neglect your body to play video games, I encourage you to seek help immediately so that you can start taking proper care of yourself again.
Do any of these signs raise suspicions about yourself? If so, I encourage you to seek help. You can try going cold turkey, but beware of emotional withdrawal symptoms, especially if you relied on games to cope with other issues. Often, any addiction has an underlying network of pain, anxiety and trauma; the excessive gaming becomes an escape. This cycle can be broken. Rehab may be an viable option, where a professional therapist and a support group can help you work through it and find a healthy balance.