Teenage gaming and internet obsession is a serious problem that affects thousands of teens, especially boys. The symptoms of teenage gaming obsession are similar to those of other process life-controlling issues or behavioral problems. Process obsessions involve behaviors—such as shopping, using social media, or exercising—that affect the brain like other life-controlling issues. They activate the brain’s reward center, releasing the “feel-good” chemical dopamine. This creates a craving for the behavior and a compulsion to continue it. Therefore, kids who obsess about video games feel an uncontrollable urge to continue playing. According to the University of New Mexico, recent studies suggest that 6 to 15 percent of gamers exhibit life-controlling issues. Though this disorder can have significant consequences for those suffering, its signs, and symptoms can sometimes be very difficult to recognize.
A gaming obsession should be considered by parents, educators, and medical professionals whenever a teen is playing video games excessively. Because it is relatively new, little information has been available to help parents and caregivers know whether or not their child’s overuse of video games qualifies as a life-controlling issue. One recent study has provided evidence that gaming obsession occurs in teens and can affect various critical areas, including academic performance, mental health, self-esteem, and social skills.
Teenage video game obsession is rising, but effective treatment options exist. The causes of video game life-controlling issues go deeper than how much time kids spend playing. Underlying psychological factors increase a teen’s vulnerability to video game problems. Research shows a correlation between teenage video game life-controlling issues and the prevalence of depression and anxiety. Studies have also found that adolescents with an insecure attachment to parents are more prone to internet obsession, including gaming.
Emotional Symptoms of Video Game Obsession
- Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
- Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
- Isolation from others to spend more time gaming
Physical Symptoms of Video Game Obsessions
- Poor personal hygiene
- Migraines due to intense concentration or eye strain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse.
The Effect of Video Game Obsession Is Real
Teenage video game obsession is a serious problem that requires treatment and professional help. Many times therapeutic programs are a necessary solution, and while immediate steps such as limiting screen time, removing game consoles and phones from bedrooms, and setting strict limits on the number of hours allowed can help prevent teenage video game obsession, the sooner you start a residential treatment program, the better your chances of healing. It is known that excessive gaming can produce symptoms of a depressive disorder. Fewer participants believed they were addicted to the games due to the evidence of life-controlling issues symptoms. It is unclear whether excessive gaming has specific psychological or physical consequences or is simply a subtype of another condition.
A study by Sarah M Coyne on Pathological video game symptoms from adolescence to emerging adulthood: A 6-year longitudinal study of trajectories, predictors, and outcomes: This study aimed to examine trajectories of pathological video game symptoms over 6 years from adolescence to emerging adulthood. We also examined several predictors and outcomes for different trajectories. Participants included 385 adolescents (M age = 15.01 at the initial time point) who completed multiple questionnaires once a year over 6 years. Analyses showed there were 3 distinct trajectories. Approximately 10% of adolescents (called “increasing symptoms”) showed moderate levels of pathological gaming symptoms initially and then increases in symptoms over time. Conversely, 18% of adolescents (“moderate symptoms”) started with moderate symptoms that did not change over time. Finally, 72% of adolescents (called “nonpathological”) were relatively low in symptoms across the 6 years of data collection. Being male predicted both the increasing and moderate groups. The increasing group tended to show the worst outcomes over time, with higher levels of depression, aggression, shyness, problematic cell phone use, and anxiety than the nonpathological group, even when controlling for initial levels of many of these variables.
How can Parents Help Prevent Video Game Obsession?
Research shows that setting rules about gaming tends to backfire when the limitations are too restrictive and don’t allow kids autonomy in their decision-making. Contract teens are willing to abide by is more productive for families. Moving boys toward explorative, social, and problem-solving games may reduce the risk of gaming disorder.
Teen Video Game Disorder Help
Teen Game-playing is a normal part of growing up, yet it can be a major problem if it takes over your kids’ lives. Teen video game obsession is an increasingly common problem, especially if the behavior interferes with school or extracurricular activities. If your child is struggling with video game life-controlling issues, Resolution Ranch Academy can help break the behaviors that hurt your child. Our video game obsession treatment program treats the root causes of the maladaptive behaviors, not just the symptoms. Contact us for more information about video game disorder in teens at our residential program.