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January 14, 2016

Gone are the simple days of one player arcade-style gaming. With the advent of era-defining video game consoles, we’ve removed the tokens and brought games home with us. Now, years after the introduction of home gaming, another trend has emerged and now holds gamers’ attention in a vice-grip: online multiplayer.

Online multiplayer takes goal-oriented single-player gaming to a new level with another tier of competition in the form of their peers. Gamers no longer need to be in the same room to compete digitally, they can access a network remotely. The ability to connect in this way leads to longer playing hours with teens altering their own timeline to suit the goals of their online companions’. The danger comes into play not when young gamers tackle the next mission on the edge of their seat, but when the pastime transforms from a leisure activity into an obsession.

The following signs of video game addiction are just a few of the many side effects that teens and young adults face when gaming becomes more compulsion than recreational diversion:

Mental

Escapism is the continually growing cause of video game addiction and obsessive online behavior. The concept of digital reality is enticing in that it offers teens a way to retreat from their everyday problems. Video games are the high-octane version of virtual escapism. With video game graphics competing, and in some ways surpassing the quality of commercial video, people have begun to accept these terminals as hubs for alternate reality. With a console and system where a player can control the fate of a surrogate character through their actions in a fantastical world, the sense of control can be intoxicating. Without the worry of repercussions for actions, users can jump into a system built with different rules and teens are very susceptible to this.

Though video games may offer reprieve from the distressing nature of life, constant retreat into these game has been found to in turn perpetuate isolation and depression. Long-term effects can be destructive financially, academically and in some cases have been seen to stretch to influencing future jobs.

Physical

Studies indicate that people who regularly engage in long stretches of gaming are more apt to carpal tunnel syndrome developed from overuse of controllers, and migraines brought about by straining eyes at a screen for too long and extended intensive concentration. Obsessive gamers exhibiting signs of video game addiction frequently have poor personal hygiene, and are prone to fatigue from irregular sleep patterns. Eating issues become prevalent in some, on both ends of the spectrum. Either poor health results from a diet of convenience, or from a lack of attention to nutrition.

In a videogame, challenges are overcome with mental acuity and results are reached quickly. The nature of this process translates to lethargy or apathy in real life. Without careful attention, these habits can translate into serious health issues.

Emotional

Behavioral issues are one of the most prominent indicators to emerge. Some signs of video game addiction include: teens beginning to feel irritable when they are unable to play a game, beginning to lie about the amount of time spent gaming, or isolation becoming second nature to them.

Further than behavioral issues, for some teens, gaming can lead to a disconnect from emotions, an inability to communicate efficiently, and it can become a hindrance to maintaining relationships with family and close friends. By escaping reality, teens shirk the responsibilities and can begin to glorify their online presence. Some end up beginning to identify more as their avatar than their true identity in the real world.

How to Manage Escapism Tendencies

Taking a mental break from the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind is understandable for all people to a certain extent. Many people enjoy reading new fiction books, gardening, or going for long solitary bike rides. Though these actions can be taken as minor forms of escapism, the effects of those actions on the human mind and body pale in comparison to the influence of online gaming.

Some parents have found success diverting the attention of their teens to other activities, and young adults are generally responsive when new challenges are presented which cater to their interests or strengths. However, the reality is that some teens require additional help. Recognizing the signs of video game addiction and the need for professional assistance is pivotal in ensuring the problem does not progress. Keeping an eye on video game play the same way that television or other media is monitored is crucial. For help identifying the signs of video game addiction, and potential treatment options, answers can be found here.

Download our Video Game Addiction Guide

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