It is common for most people to assume that the term ‘addiction’ refers only to those who find themselves physically dependent on chemical substances such as alcohol or drugs. In reality, any pattern of behaviour can be addictive if it causes negative consequences for the individual. This means that gambling, shopping, sex, and even video gaming can become addictive if it interferes with the daily life of the individual. In recent years, video gaming has become very popular and many youngsters and adults have found themselves struggling to break the cycle of addiction to the activity. But what is computer gaming addiction and how does it affect those caught up in it?
Can Computer Gaming be Harmful?
For most individuals, gaming is a harmless activity that is enjoyed during free time. However, when gaming begins to interfere with the person’s everyday life, it starts to become a problem. Those who find they are spending increasingly more time playing games and are developing symptoms such as aggression or irritability when not playing are in danger of developing a computer gaming addiction.
The world in which we live has evolved and today children tend to spend much of their free time on tech devices such as mobile phones, tablets, computers, and game consoles. When it comes to online gaming, young people can interact with their friends as they play their favourite video games, even conversing via headsets. To them, it can feel as though their friends are in the same room as themselves.
The effect of this is that young people tend to spend all their free time in their rooms, and the consequence of this is that many then find it difficult to interact with others in the real world. Normal social development is severely hampered as there is little free time to play sports, do homework, or even socialise
It is important to understand that while a large number of computer gaming addicts are children and young people, adults can also be affected. The negative impact on the older computer game addict is that it can interfere with their relationships with family members and friends. It can also jeopardise their ability to work productively as they are often tired and unfocused when at work.
How to Spot the Warning Signs of Computer Gaming Addiction
If you are worried that someone you love may be affected by a computer gaming addiction, there are a number of warning signs to look out for. Nevertheless, just because your loved one may be spending hours playing video games does not necessarily mean he or she is addicted. So, without further ado, the things to look out for include:
- steady increase in the number of hours spent playing computer games
- a preoccupation with video gaming – i.e. talking about gaming when not playing
- preferring to play games than spend time with family members and friends
- avoiding other activities and social events in favour of gaming
- lying to friends and family members about gaming
- showing signs of irritability and aggression when prevented from playing games.
Computer gaming addicts tend to become very isolated and withdrawn. They will spend many hours alone playing games and will often forgo eating and sleeping as this tends to interfere with their gaming time. This can result in them looking tired and unhealthy.
What are the Long-Term Effects of Gaming Addiction?
The impact of a computer gaming addiction can be lasting. Many addicts find that their inability to pull themselves away from the computer or games console has a negative impact on everyday life. They could become unproductive at school or work, which will then hamper their ability to earn a good living.
Children’s grades might suffer, and if left untreated, their education and prospects will be severely affected. Adults may lose their jobs because of being tired all the time or repeatedly calling in sick due to being unable to stay away from gaming.
Gaming addiction can also cause mental health problems, with many addicts affected by conditions such as anxiety, mood swings, and depression. It is common for computer gaming addicts to experience feelings of despair, loneliness, boredom, irritability, and low self-esteem issues.
Physical health problems are also quite common. Those who spend extended periods playing computer games often suffer from backache, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, eye strain, and sleep problems. In extreme cases, video game addicts can even suffer malnutrition from skipping meals as well as poor hygiene.
Is Help Available for Computer Gaming Addiction?
It is difficult for anyone to admit to being affected by any type of addiction, and those who become addicted to video gaming might very well think that there is no help available. Nonetheless, they could not be more wrong. Computer gaming addiction is a very real illness, but the good news is that many organisations across the UK are working hard to help those affected by it.
Here at Middlegate, we work closely with these very organisations and facilities. Our job is to connect those affected by addiction with the facilities that treat it. We are a free referral service and we help those in need of treatment for addiction no matter where they are in the United Kingdom and no matter what their circumstances.
Treatment for computer gaming addiction is available through the NHS, local support groups, charities, and private clinics; we work with them all. We have years of experience and a vast knowledge of the type of addictions that each organisation specialises in. It is this knowledge and experience that has allowed us to help so many people who have been struggling with addiction.
By contacting us today, you can rest safe in the knowledge that we only have your very best interests at heart. We will assess your situation to determine how severe your addiction is and will look at various factors such as your personal preferences and your budget before we make any recommendations. We want you to know that it is our goal to ensure that you are completely comfortable with your choice of treatment provider and we will never try to influence your decision.
If you would like more information on our service, please get in touch with us right now via our helpline or the contact form on this website.