Can a person really be addicted to video games?

Unanticipated Sources of Addiction: Video Games

The average video game enthusiast is 34 years old and 72% of gamers are over the age of 18, according to information gathered by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). A rather popular activity, 60% of Americans play daily and 64% of American households are home to a gamer. Smartphones make it more accessible for everyone to play during the work or school day, taking video games out of the home and on the go to school and increasingly, the workplace.

Can a Person Really be Addicted to Video Games?

Yes. The World Health Organization has designated video game addiction as an official mental health disorder. Called “gaming disorder” it has been officially added to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems or “ICD-11” and this official designation goes into effect in January 2022. The condition is found within a section detailing disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors, along with gambling disorder.

The ICD-11 describes gaming disorder as recurrent video game playing that leads to “impaired control over gaming” and an “increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities, despite negative consequences.”

What Are Common Behaviors Associated with Gaming Disorder?

In addition to playing video games for several hours a day, someone with a gaming disorder may:

  • think about gaming all or a lot of the time
  • have difficulty quitting playing or limiting game time
  • avoid other activities they previously enjoyed
  • lie to people about how much time is spent playing
  • use gaming to ease bad moods and feelings
  • feel badly when they cannot play
  • miss deadlines 
  • continue to play despite productivity issues

Professional Assistance with Gaming Disorder

Underlying issues in life are the common source of a person’s video game addiction (or any addiction, for that matter). A Recovery Coach can assist a person who wants to recover from their gaming disorder by being a steadfast source of non-judgemental support, assist with accountability, and provide expertise on mapping healthier daily habits and tools to use to successfully navigate the lifelong path of recovery.

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