How to spot a developing gaming or other addiction?

How to spot a developing gaming or other addiction?

Photo by Ralston Smith on Unsplash



Gaming is not always bad.  


The only way you can be absolutely sure that you (or your kids) will not develop a gaming addiction is never to play video and online games at all.   


However, complete abstinence may be a little overcautious:  gaming can be an enjoyable pastime and a way to relax.   Some studies even show that gaming can be beneficial for general knowledge, coordination, and problem-solving skills.   


We’ve been talking about gaming addiction for the past few weeks.    This blog focuses on spotting a developing gaming addiction in your household and how to deal with it.


Look for these signs.


Five or more may signal an addiction.


To spot a gaming addiction, you may notice that your child, spouse, or friend is talking incessantly about their game or is always anticipating when they can play next.   


  • They play for hours and get defensive when someone asks them to stop.   
  • When gaming is taken away, the person gets irritable, anxious, or complains about being bored.  
  • Playing cannot be controlled, and the person spends increasing amounts of time (and money) engaged in their game.
  • Previous hobbies, sports, and other interests such as friends just don’t concern the person anymore.
  • He is unable to feel happy or content until he can complete a particular in-game activity.
  • He deceives others about how much he is playing.
  • He is willing to isolate himself to spend more time on games.
  • Video games are an escape mechanism to relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, or anxiety.
  • He is willing to jeopardize significant relationships, school, or a job because of participation in video games. As a result, some straightforward real-world activities such as shopping become difficult.
  • Physical symptoms can arise, such as finger soreness, back or neck pains, headaches, poor personal hygiene, or red eyes.
  • The person may find it hard to communicate outside of gaming, and some people even develop agoraphobia (the fear of going outside.)


If you can answer most of these questions affirmatively, your fears about digital media use in your home might be well-founded.     Regulations and restrictions are in order to address the problematic use of devices in your home.


Achieve balance again


Preventing gaming addiction


Remember, each case is unique.   What may represent 'problem gaming' in one person might not be valid for someone else.    


Studies also suggest that actual gaming disorder affects only a tiny proportion of people.   Don't panic.    It may only be time to step up and parent.   Teach your kids that life has so much more to offer than sitting in front of a screen.


How families can avoid unhealthy gaming


  • Map out your child’s media diet.Gaming cannot crowd out other essential activities such as time with friends, homework, exercise, and sleep. But, of course, games and tech time can be allowed as long as the balance with other activities is maintained. For example, encourage kids to read and play with toys.
  • If setting time limits on gaming do not work, take it away.Tell your child that it is possible to live without games or a computer.   
  • A common area for gaming.Keep gaming activity where you can see what is going on.  Ongoing supervision can prevent compulsions from starting.
  • Set an example.If you struggle to limit your time playing video games, how can you convince your child not to do the same?   Be firm about not playing more than two hours at a time.   The last hour before bed should be device-free.
  • Games should be age- and content-appropriate.
  • Don’t take gaming equipment on holiday.   Limit also the time you spend on your phone. Prioritize relationships over gaming – always.




Luckily, most kids do not become addicted to gaming.  When you do notice gaming getting in the way of other parts of life, step in!   


Should your child resist your efforts to make them cut back on gaming, ask for help.   You can find resources here on our Largest Heart website.