Spotting Game Addiction

The patterns of pathological behavior have been studied by a group at McLean Hospital (Belmont, Massachusetts). Their finding with hundreds of video-game-addiction cases show that addicted gamers' lives are always significantly disrupted by the games. Some physical symptoms of addiction are also commonly present:

  • Inability to stop the activity
  • Neglecting family and friends
  • Lying to employers and/or family about activities
  • Problems with school or job
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances or changes in sleep patterns1

If you notice any of these signs in your child, take action. You may be wondering: when should I intervene? Should I really be concerned? Any of the above signs are an indication that your child is spending too much time in front of the screen. You may need to just cut down on game usage. Increase time limits and actively monitor screen time.

If you fear your child is losing sleep or if you notice his grades slipping, you should remove the gaming equipment from his bedroom. Make sure the gaming console or computer is centrally located in the home and enforce time limits. If his grades continue to slip, you may need to remove the equipment from the home.

If you feel that your child's attitude and behavior have changed drastically – he or she is obsessed with the game and acts out with severe hostility when unable to play – you may need to seek professional help to discover possible underlying problems. This would relate to extreme situations. In most cases, gaming can be controlled with consistent enforcement of stricter rules.

There are many documented cases in which gaming has destroyed marriages, families, careers, and entire lives. Moms and dads have an opportunity to avoid those problems by noticing signs of addiction in their children early and taking action.

1 Maressa Hecht Orzack, "Computer Addiction Services," adapted from www.computeraddiction.com.

Background Information

Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.

When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

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