Video Game Addiction: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Little girl playing with a video game console.

Video game addiction has become one of the issues that most worries many parents alarmed at the time their children spend playing this form of leisure. Although it is clear that the degree of dependence that can be generated with this type of entertainment is not comparable to that which appears with drug consumption, it is true that obsession with this activity can have serious consequences on the quality of life of young people. .

In this article we will review the characteristics of video game addiction, which turns the habit into a trap from which it is difficult to escape, and the methods used to intervene in this problem and break that vicious circle.

What is video game addiction?

Throughout the planet, many young people have turned video games into one of their main hobbies, in the same way that in other cases it is soccer or skating that occupy a good part of the time dedicated to leisure.

In fact, what was once a pastime with bad press and that was not well accepted socially, today has become so normalized that there is a subculture that openly claims this kind of entertainment, and there are even tournaments and world championships focused on specific video games; This is what is known as eSports).

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However, the fact that many people value the daily use of this form of entertainment very positively does not mean that video game addiction ceases to exist.

Video game addiction is what happens when the dependence on playing video games becomes so intense that at least four hours a day are dedicated to this activity, assuming this means neglecting all types of obligations and responsibilities.


Among the symptoms of video game addiction, the following stand out.

1. Social isolation

Video game addiction enhances social isolation, which results in loss of contact with friends and family. In turn, social isolation can be one of the causes that leads to addiction to video games, since these can be both solitary entertainment with which to spend time obtaining pleasure in return, or a medium with which to interact indirectly with other people (in the case of online games).

2. Worsening academic performance

The time spent playing means that time and effort are not invested in studying, which impacts academic performance and delays learning of the competencies and skills that are promoted through education.

3. One of the video game games as compensatory behavior

The udo of games can be a resource to channel stress and anxiety derived from other daily problems, such as living in a broken family or the suffering of abuse at home or bullying at school

4. Loss of track of time

Video game addiction causes you to lose control of time management, so the ability to know the hours that have passed during games worsens and you lose sight of the fact that this delays other activities.

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5. Pain and postural diseases

Spending many hours in a row playing video games in front of the television or computer can lead to develop bone, joint, or circulation problems especially on the back, thighs and hands.

6. Outbursts of anger at limitations in playing

When certain situations cause the game to end or be hindered, this generates a level of frustration that can lead to outbursts of anger or even in physical attacks against other people, as well as in blows against parts of the property or objects.

What makes us hooked on the screen?

It is true that most video games are designed to be used during relatively long games, or to offer the possibility of playing several games in a row with very little delay time. For example, those that offer immersive experiences as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrimthe game may last all afternoon, while in others, such as Hotline Miamieach game lasts between several seconds and a few minutes, although between each game you have to wait less than a couple of seconds for loading.

On the other hand, The mechanics of most video games focus on giving rewards to progress and overcome tests. For example, beating certain records or overcoming certain enemies allows us to access new areas to explore or game modes that we had not unlocked. This, added to an ascending difficulty curve (it is increasingly difficult to advance, but at the same time we learn more and more about how to overcome the challenges of the game) means that everything revolves around operant conditioning.

Normally we can disconnect from this habit, but in other cases the desire to receive more rewards leads us to want to play more and more of the options that these games offer us, without spending time thinking about other things.

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On the other hand, video game addiction, like many other forms of habit dependency, leads us to fall into a dynamic that traps us and that, over time, worsens the prospects of getting out of that trap. This is because as we internalize the importance of playing video games, the recurring thoughts linked to that activity become more and more frequent, and everything makes us remember those games or imagine how good we could be having if we were in front of them. to the screen.

Video game addiction treatment

Beyond psychological intervention conducted by professionals, which is the recommended option when video game addiction is very intense, there are other measures that can help combat this tendency towards the abuse of playing computer or video game consoles The main ones are the following.

1. Prevent the purchase of more games

The fact of not being able to access more games for an indefinite period of time It limits the amount of rewards and new stimuli you can choose from, so that playing the same thing all the time is a tedious experience.

2. Invite people to do other hobbies

Spending time on other activities helps break the cycle of play, since introduces other routines and stimulating thoughts

3. Limit time

It is preferable to allow the game to be played for a limited time rather than to suddenly cut off the possibility of continuing to play, since the latter produces such hostility that the situation It is seen as a direct confrontation in which anything goes as long as you break the norm.