Positive Effects

Negative Effects


Children &Adolescents




Defining Video Game Addiction     
Video game addiction is a growing problem in the United States as well as worldwide. This addiction is not simply affecting teens and children but adults as well and in surprisingly greater numbers. Although not defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) vide game addiction is being researched by the American Medical Association to “determine whether they should be included in the next update of the manual in 2010.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) This consideration suggests the closeness of symptoms of video game addiction to other forms of addictive behavior such as drug addiction. Video games often do not create issues in the lives of most who enjoy their entertainment value however, there is an increasing number of individuals whose lives are focused solely on their virtual world that they neglect not only others in their lives but often themselves. Video game use becomes and addiction when “its starts to interfere with a person’s relationships or their pursuit of other goals.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) The recreational overuse or abuse of video games does not qualify the user/abuser as an addict until other aspects of their lives become affected by their gaming.

Who is at risk of becoming addicted?

As is common with most other addictive behaviors, video game addiction is often used to treat or redirect attention (self medication) of an underlying condition or issue. Therefore those with underlying medical conditions (depression, social anxiety, social phobias, etc) are at a greater risk of becoming addicted. This is especially prevalent in children and adolescents who have social challenges making friends in the “real world” “computer and video games offer a way to interact with others in their “virtual world,” without the distress of face to face interactions.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) Adults often fall into a similar pattern when interacting with others face to face and find themselves looking towards an outlet other than one that gives them such discomfort.

Adults can also be at risk for a different reason than children and adolescents. The entertainment value of video games is a huge marketing factor and the overall purpose the designers had in mind. This entertainment value provides adults with a relaxing atmosphere to forget issues at work or at home to simply enjoy doing something as opposed to thinking about the outcomes and issues associated with everyday life. Children play for enjoyment as well but the lives of adults tend to be more stressful therefore they are more likely to play excessively to simply forget those stressors.

Symptoms and Warning Signs
Symptom Comparison



  • Most non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games
  • Falling asleep in school
  • Falling behind with assignments
  • Worsening grades
  • Lying about computer or video game use
  • Choosing to use the computer of play video games rather than see friends
  • Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports)
  • Being irritable when not playing video games
  • Lying about how much time you spend playing computer or video games
  • Playing computer or video games results in intense feelings or pleasure or guilt that seems uncontrollable
  • Spending more and more time playing video or computer games to get the same enjoyment
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or your spouse to the point of disrupting family, social, or work life
  • Experiencing feelings of anger, depression, moodiness, anxiety, or restlessness when you’re not gaming
  • Spending significant sums of money for online services, computer upgrades, or gaming systems
  • Thinking obsessively about being on the computer or playing video games even when doing other things

Source: (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?)

In addition to all of these symptoms there are additional physical symptoms of addictive gaming most prevalent in adult abusers. These include but are not limited to “difficulty sleeping, migraines, back and neck aches, dry eyes, or carpal tunnel syndrome.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) Addicts of all ages can forget to take care of themselves as well because of their preoccupation with gaming. Many addicts show signs of “forgetting to eat, shower, shave, or take care of other basic hygiene.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) Research at Hammersmith Hospital in London suggests that there is an actual physiological component to video game addiction; researchers found that while playing gamers experienced increased levels of dopamine in their brains. Dopamine is a mood-regulating hormone that increases feelings of euphoria and pleasure. (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?)
There are also other red flags that researchers suggest can point out a serious video game problem. These most often manifest themselves at home and most are seen by the addict’s spouse or parent/guardian. “The gaming addict may neglect household chores and responsibilities in favor of “screen time”, and may lie to family members to avoid admitting they have a problem.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) There are warning signs that manifest in the work environment as well which could be more accessible and viewable to friends and coworkers. Many addicts show signs of game playing interfering with work so much that “work performance suffers”; addicts may go so far to “play games during work hours, using company computers and equipment.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?)

Video games are addictive: Why?

Firstly video games are designed to be addictive (not to the extent of actual addiction) but they are designed to be enjoyable and that the user will want to continue playing. There are several factors that increase the addictive nature of video games through their designs. Game designers do not want the games to be a “walk in the park” they design them to challenge the user sometimes to tremendous levels of frustration. Designers create “small “wins” that keep them playing. These are often referred to as “hooks” that are built into the games with the intent of making them “addictive” in nature.” (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?) Some of these hooks include: high scores, beating the game, role-playing, discovery, and relationships. Each of these hooks does just that they are the driving reason behind the “addictive” nature of video games.

Treatment options: Is there help?

Similar to any addictive behavior the first step is the realization of a problem. This conclusion must be made by the addicted party. (Media Family, 2005) Once this first and critical step is taken there are several therapy and intervention type tactics that can be beneficial to the addicted party. Intervention tactics are often most beneficial to children and adolescents. Because children must often use their computers for schoolwork the need is high to reform their behavior. There are treatments facilities such as summer camps, and boarding schools which take the child out of their normal routine and environment that could cause them to relapse into addictive behaviors. Summer camps that focus on outdoor activities or are set in places that lack computer or internet access or at least limit it are beneficial. The child is distracted and forced into activities other than computer use and video games. (What is Computer and Video Game Addiction?)
Treatment for adults should also include a therapeutic basis but the intervention styles often are used to “shock” or force the addict into making choices that will affect not only their lives but the lives of their spouses and children.