Internet & Gaming Addiction
Is gaming addiction really that big of a deal?
In the 13-17 age demographic, up to 3 out of every 4 kids could be considered addicted to the internet. The percentage of 18-24 year olds who would qualify as being addicted to the internet today: 71%.
Fast facts on Gaming Addiction:
- A 38 year old man in New Taipei was found dead in an Internet cafe after 5 straight days of video game playing.
- A 32 year old gamer died in an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a 3-day video game binge – staff thought he was sleeping. He suffered a cardiac arrest after playing combat games. In both above instances gamers surrounding the deceased gamers kept on playing, even when police cordoned off the tables.
- A 22 year old South Korean man was arrested for leaving his 28-month old son unattended for 10 days while he played online video games at an Internet cafe. The baby starved to death.
- Another South Korean couple, Kim & Kim Yun-jeong, left their 3 month old daughter, Sarange, alone at home for 6-12 hours at a time while they went on gaming binges at an Internet cafe. Their baby eventually died from malnutrition, while the couple ”cared” for another child, an online mini-avatar named Anima.
- Video-gamers resort to wearing adult diapers because they don’t want to be interrupted by bathroom breaks during competitive gaming sessions. In one instance security had to remove a gamer after other gamers complained about ”septic-tank -like smells” that came from the 16 year old gamer.
- 200 Special centres were built in South Korea for Internet & Gaming Addiction detox.
- China has 300 detox centres for internet addiction detox
Are we losing the war on the internet?
Internet gamers, porn addicts and obese people all have one characteristic – they binge. Binge means an ‘‘often excessive indulgence.” In South Africa ”LAN” parties were well known. Kids got together and played video games for 12 or more hours non-stop without sleeping.
Internet & gaming addiction can manifest itself in many ways in today’s teens and can have serious physical, emotional, and social consequences.
There is increasing evidence that people of all ages, especially teens and pre-teens, are facing very real, sometimes severe consequences associated with compulsive use of the internet & gaming activities.
Do violent video games lead to violent behavior?
Yes. There is strong evidence that playing violent video games ( which represents 60 % of video game sales, leads to aggressive behavior. An exhaustive meta-analysis of 381 tests on over 130 000 participants found that violent video games significantly increase aggressive cognition, aggressive behavior and physical arousal. In the meanwhile they decreased sensitivity to violence and positive interaction.
A Jihadist (born in Britain) who joined ISIS in Syria as a volunteer recruit, told a British broadcaster, “‘It is actually quite fun. What’s that video game called – Call of Duty? – It’s like that, but really you know, 3-D. You can see everything’s happening right in front of you. It’s real. You know what I mean?” (Described in the book: Black Flags. The Rise of ISIS. Joby Warrick. 2016. Page 396)
How do I know I have a problem?
- You feel really happy when you’re online or when you’re playing games, but as soon as you have to stop, you get angry or upset.
- You think about going online or playing when you are supposed to be focusing on other things, like doing school work or having dinner with your family. It has a negative impact on other areas of your life.
- You spend more time with your keyboard or controller than physically hanging out with your friends. You are pre-occupied with the game.
- Your friends or parents ask what you spend all your time on, and you lie about it or laugh it off, but inside you know they may have a point; you downplay your computer use. You get defensive about it.
- You lose sleep and sense of time because you are unable to control the amount of time you spend on your computer.
Of course, all internet surfers & gamers are not addicts. But for some, the internet & gaming has become an uncontrollable compulsion. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviours, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.
The Science of Addiction – please read.
The following are physical symptoms of addiction:
Sore wrists, malformed thumbs or joints, back or neck aches, poor sleeping habits, dry eyes, declining appetite, lack of personal hygiene, frequent headaches unexplained anger, lack of concentration when studying, anhedonia
One of the most destructive symptoms of video game addiction is anger. Have you seen ”’video game freakouts” on You Tube? It is very disturbing to watch. Anger is one of the most destructive emotions one can deal with.
Symptoms of addiction in children:
- Falling asleep in school
- Falling behind in school work
- Declining grades
- Lying about internet and gaming activities
- Dropping out of sports
- Irritability when not playing
- Spending most awake hours playing
- Losing friends
- Inability to cut back on playing hours
Symptoms of adult addiction:
- Getting intense feelings of pleasure and guilt from playing
- Lying about internet & gaming activities
- Withdrawal symptoms like anger or depression when not playing
- Wasting a lot of money on the internet & gaming
- Having a fantasy life on the net that replaces relationship with real-life partner
Recovery from Addiction
How to get control over your life back?
Can video game addiction be cured? Yes – there is hope.
Abstinence: The brain start to recover after 6-8 weeks of abstinence. Take note – abstinence… not playing shorter periods of time. If you think you can rewire your brain back to normal by cutting down – think again. Do you think a cocaine addict will recover by sniffing half a line of cocaine? No. Steve Pope, a counsellor and therapist in Garstang, UK said that spending two hours on a game station is equivalent to taking a line of cocaine in the high it produces.
Treatment for video game addiction is similar to detox for other addictions, with one important difference. Computers have become an important part of everyday life, as well as many jobs, so compulsive gamers can’t just look the other way when they see a PC.
Because video game addicts can’t avoid computers, they have to learn to use them responsibly. That means no gaming. As for limiting game time to an hour a day, it is compared that to “an alcoholic saying he’s only going to drink beer.” Some treatment centers explore controlled use rather than abstinence. Work on PC’S is allowed, with time limited – but no gaming.
The toughest part of treating video game addicts is that “it’s a little bit more difficult to show somebody they’re in trouble. Nobody’s ever been put in jail for being under the influence of ‘’a game.” The key is to show gamers they are powerless over their addiction, and then teach them “real-life excitement as opposed to online excitement.’’
No overall cure for video game addiction exists. As with alcoholism and drug addiction, the key is to enter treatment and to stay aware of triggers while continuing to participate in recovery groups, such as Online Gamers Anonymous. Counseling and behavior modification are the primary means of treating addicted gamers. Together, individual and family counseling are powerful treatment tools. Some treatment facilities incorporate medication in their programs.
Some games have been named because of their known addictiveness for example:
- Call of Duty
- “World of Warcraft” (WOW) is often called “World of Warcrack”
- The SIMS
- “Halo 3,” referred to as “Halodiction.”
- Candy Crush Saga
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Dota 2
If you have to choose a gift for your child as a parent – why would you give a child a toy with such a high risk of addiction, a toy that will rewire your child’s brain for addiction and a toy that will harm and impair normal brain development? Games are designed by game researchers to hook players. These guys have doctorates in behavioural and brain sciences. Games are designed to keep you playing for hours and days on end, to achieve the next level.
Video gamers often make the statement that video games improves hand-eye coordination, which is true. But is the trade-off worth it – rewiring the brain for addiction, the unlimited secretion of dopamine which gets blocked eventually, leaving the gamer without any feeling, lack of concentration, impaired cognitive development, lack of decision making and self-control? There are healthier ways to develop hand-eye coordination for example playing sports with a friend: rugby, soccer, cricket, volley ball, netball etc.
If you’re reading this because you struggle with unexplained anger, difficulty to retain information, to understand work you have to study, lack of self-control and time management, lack of decision making – you might have a gaming addiction. Please talk to a counsellor on LIVE CHAT who can help you. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. It takes a lot of courage to admit (even to yourself) that you might need some help.
You can also do a self-test quiz: Internet & Gaming Addiction Quiz.
Book a Counselling Session
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