Children, teenagers, and even some adults love to play video games. Video games provide instant entertainment that can be accessed at all hours of the day from the privacy of one’s own home, so they are both convenient and amusing; unfortunately, this is a perfect combination for addiction. An addiction to video games can come in many forms, but whether the individual is addicted to video games on consoles (such as the PS3, Wii, or Xbox) or online video games (such as World of Warcraft), it is a problem that absolutely needs to be addressed. Video game addiction in teens is a very new phenomenon, and, as such, it is not yet completely understood. There are, however, some basic facts about video game addiction of which concerned parents should be aware:
It can be very destructive.
Many parents have the tendency to downplay the seriousness of video game addiction, but this is a very unfortunate mistake. Although video game addiction might not be as dangerous as, say, a heroin addiction, it can still negatively impact your teen’s life in a number of ways. Teens who are addicted to video games, for example, often find it very difficult to interact in real life social situations. The teenage years are vital for developing the social skills necessary to survive in American society, especially the professional world, so if those social skills are lacking, your teen could have a very difficult time later in life. Teen video game addicts also tend to suffer from low self esteem, and they’re more likely than their non-addict counterparts to engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor diet and limited exercise. The effects of a video game addiction can be far-reaching and difficult to reverse, so, as a parent, it is important to take this issue seriously.
It could be the result of underlying psychological or emotional disorders.
The sad fact is that often times, video game addictions are not the result of a simple love of video games. In many cases, this addiction is based on an undiagnosed social, emotional, or psychological disorder, and sometimes this underlying condition could be quite serious. Teens who suffer from anxiety disorder and who find it difficult to make friends, for example, could find themselves delving into video games as an alternative to facing the difficult task of interacting face to face. Depressed teens and teens who suffer from low self esteem may also use video games as a way to escape the real world. As a parent, when dealing with a video game addiction in a teenager, it is very important that you address any possible underlying causes as well as the addiction itself.
It’s hard to deny.
An addiction to video games is actually very easy to spot, which is good news for concerned parents. One of the most obvious and undeniable signs of a video game addiction is a teen who spends an inordinate amount of time playing their games. Video game addicted teens have been known to spend hours on end in front of their games, often forgetting or forgoing more important tasks such as homework, outings with friends, meals, and even sleep. Addicted teens also tend to lie about the amount of time they spend playing their games, and they can sometimes become quite defensive – even hostile – when they are confronted with the possibility that their lifestyle choices are unhealthy. Finally, video game addicted teens have a habit of spending the vast majority of their allowance or part time job earnings on video games, video game accessories, and in-game purchases.
Video games are a fun and innocent form of entertainment, so it is important to realize that most teens who enjoy playing video games as a hobby probably don’t suffer from an addiction to video games. When the time spent on that hobby spirals out of control, however, and your teenager begins to neglect other, more important areas of his or her life, then it is safe to assume that you may need to seek help for your child.