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VIDEOGAMES: Addiction?

Video games can be very fun. But how far can you go with a hobby? At what point does it become a problem? That's a question that some parent or just someone who plays video games asks themselves. Especially nowadays, where video games are very popular, and all age groups play video games. Gaming has been around for many years, and there are studies about how it can be harmful.

The World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to the 2018 version of its medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases. But the American Psychiatry Association's manual, the DSM-5, didn't.

Signs to Watch For

Here's what you can look for in you or someone close to you, like your child, friend or partner. You need to have at least five or more of these signs in a year to have a problem, according to criteria that were proposed in the DSM-5:

  • Thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time

  • Feeling bad when you can't play

  • Needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good

  • Not being able to quit or even play less

  • Not wanting to do other things that you used to like

  • Having problems at work, school, or home because of your gaming

  • Playing despite these problems

  • Lying to people close to you about how much time you spend playing

  • Using gaming to ease bad moods and feelings

It'll help if you start asking yourself or someone else some questions: Does your gaming get in the way of other important things in your life? Like your relationships, your school or your job? Do you think you've felt like you crossed a line between having to play and loving to play? Are you using gaming to avoid a deeper problem like depression?

It can be hard to admit you have a problem. The amount of time you've been playing video games might be acceptable to you, but if the people close to you are worried and say it's too much. Maybe it's time to think about cutting back.

Preventing a Gaming Problem

Here are some tips to keep the amount of time you spend in gaming under control:

  • Set time limits for play and stick to them.

  • Keep phones and other gadgets out of the bedroom so you won't play into the night.

  • Do other activities every day, including exercise. It will lower the health risks of sitting and playing for long periods.

If these don't help, there's always the choice of going to a professional for help. There are studies about treating video game addiction or gaming disorders in the early stages. One therapy that can help is called CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy. It teaches you how to replace thoughts about gaming to help change behaviour.

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