One of the most common problems that gamers run into is that they are unable to recognize the signs of video game addiction. That is not entirely their fault.
The simple answer is that if it causes a problem, then it is a problem. The signs of video game addiction usually manifest as you neglecting certain parts of your life in favour of gaming.
However, recognizing if gaming is a normal part of your life can be tricky. Gaming can offer us a lot of positive things as well. It serves as a form of recreation. It can be a fun activity to do with your friends, serve as a way to de-stress, help you cope with problems, and help you form relationships.
In this article, we will try to ask and answer some questions which will help you recognize the telltale signs of video game addiction.
What are the Signs of Video Game Addiction?
Here are five clear signs of video game addiction:
- Preoccupation with video games.
- Being unable to stop when needed.
- Being unable to cut back on time spent playing games.
- Prioritizing gaming over everything else.
- Problems with daily functioning.
If you experience any of this, then maybe it is time to look into whether gaming is a recreational activity, or if it has become an addiction.
To learn about how the World Health Organization’s classification of video game addiction, click here.
How do You Recognize the Signs of Video Game Addiction?
You might ask yourself the following questions:
- “If I play World of Warcraft for a whole weekend, after finishing a week of finals, do I have a problem?”
- “Is it a problem if I game for 12 hours on both Saturday and Sunday, after studying very hard for the semester?”
These are great questions to ask, and the answer is relatively simple.
If it causes a problem, then it is a problem.
“How do I know if I am addicted?” Dr. Alok Kanojia answers that question in this video:
When Does a Habit Turn Into an Addiction?
A habit turns into an addiction when it starts to affect your:
- Professional success
- Physical health
- Mental health
Aside from these aspects, if there is something specific that you want to achieve in life, and your gaming habit is preventing you from doing that, then it is a problem.
To learn about how video games affect your mental health, click here.
A lot of parents express their concern when they notice that their child becomes someone else when they start playing video games. Some children become moody and irritable when they start gaming. If gaming affects your personality and hurts your interpersonal relationships, then that is another sign of it becoming an unhealthy activity.
Using Video Games as a Coping Mechanism
If you go home and play video games after a long day at work, then that would be considered a healthy coping mechanism. But if you play video games for several hours to decompress, then that is when your gaming habit becomes a problem.
If video games get in the way of you trying to address the cause of stress from your job, then that is unhealthy. If you are unable to look for another job because you spend so much time gaming, then that is a sign of video game addiction.
It is fine to use gaming as a coping mechanism to de-stress from your day. However, when you start to ignore your problems and use video games to cope with them, then that is when your gaming habit becomes a problem.
How Can I Tell if I Am Addicted to Video Games?
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you want to look for some signs of video game addiction:
- Is gaming getting in the way of your academic performance?
- Are you not doing as well in school because you spend too much time playing video games?
- Is gaming getting in the way of your professional success?
- Are you not moving forward in your life because your time is taken up by gaming?
- Are video games interfering with your physical or mental health?
- Are you gaining too much weight? Should you be losing weight?
- Is gaming getting in the way of your sleep?
- Does gaming create problems in your relationships?
- Are you not able to find a romantic partner because you spend so much time gaming?
- Is gaming creating stress between you and your parents? Is there a disconnect between your idea and their idea of an appropriate amount of time spent playing video games?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then your gaming habit is a problem.
Check out this interview in which Dr. K interviews a hardcore gaming addict:
How Does Gaming Addiction Affect Me?
One of the most subtle problems that gamers face is that gaming gets in the way of their creative pursuits. On average, gamers are brilliant. They have great ideas for video games, startups, novels, etc., but they never make a move in that direction. They never sit down to start working on these ideas because they spend so much time gaming.
The most dangerous and insidious part of a video game addiction is that it prevents you from becoming the person that you want to be. Video games might be fun and enjoyable while you are playing them, but five years down the road, will you be happy with where you are? Would you have instead spent some of that time doing something else?
If the answer to that question is yes, then you have a problem that you need to address.
Gaming is not inherently a bad habit. However, when it starts to get in the way of you living your life, then it becomes a problem.
Moreover, video game addiction is not the same as other addictions. It can be insidious and hard to recognize until it has taken over your life. However, if you keep an eye on what impact video games have on your life, then it is easier to control the addiction. After all, awareness precedes change.