Your kids are unengaged. They won’t talk to you. They don’t tell you what’s going on at school or with their friends or why they can’t seem to complete any tasks. They don’t listen to you, or do chores, or finish homework. You feel like they isolate themselves and tune you out.
You feel like the primary opponent in the video games they can’t seem to stop playing. In fact, playing video games is the only thing they seem to want to do—the only thing they can pay attention to for varying lengths of time. You call out their name, and they just sit there, immobile, eyes glued to a screen displaying violent graphics. And you don’t know what to do. You’re at your wits end and cannot manage what may be ADD and video gaming addiction.
ADD and video gaming addiction are high-profile, consistently growing problems across the U.S. Because of their prevalence, they’ve received a lot of attention and coverage. The National Institute of Mental Health defines ADD (a subset of ADHD) as “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” Some key behaviors are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. To learn more about each subcategory, visit the NIH page on ADHD.
Kids are often distracted and reluctant to do things they’re obligated to do, so it’s often difficult to determine whether they have an ADD or ADHD diagnosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, a child who may have ADD will often exhibit one of the behaviors below. You can see a full list of symptoms and causes on the Mayo Clinic site.
- Fails to pay close attention to details
- Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork
- Has trouble staying focused in tasks or play
- Appears not to listen, even when spoken to directly
- Has difficulty following through on instructions
- Fails to finish schoolwork or chores
- Has trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Avoids or dislikes tasks that require focused mental effort, such as homework
- Loses items needed for tasks or activities, for example, toys, school assignments, pencils
- Is easily distracted
- Forgets to do some daily activities, such as forgetting to do chores
Interestingly, many of these ADD symptoms coincide with symptoms related to video game addiction. Psychiatric professionals describe video gaming addiction like they do many other addictions. It’s an impulse, which cannot be controlled. It may not involve an intoxicating drug, but the same level of compulsiveness and excessiveness is involved. They get attached to the socializing aspect of the game—they get to meet and communicate with other gamers participating in the game.
Warning Signs of ADD and video gaming addiction:
- Preoccupation with the game. (Thoughts about previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session.)
- Use of the game in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
- Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop game use.
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the game.
- Gaming longer than originally intended.
- Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of game use.
- Lies to family members, friends, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the game.
- Use of the game is a way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood (e.g. feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, depression).
Additional ADD and video gaming addiction warning signs include:
- Fatigue, tendency to fall asleep during school
- Not completing homework or assignments on time
- Declining grades, or failing classes
- Dropping out of school activities, clubs, sports, etc.
- Isolating from family and friends to play video games
Warning signs like isolation, socialization and the inability to complete every day tasks like homework fall under both ADD and video gaming addiction; they go hand-in-hand. The problem of having both is challenging, widespread and difficult to treat. The combination of ADD and video gaming addiction is often a symptom of a bigger social anxiety or psychological issues like depression or insubordination and dislike towards authority figures. Cases like this require a treatment program that will address both the behavioral issues associated with ADD and the video game addiction.
Pacific Quest offers one of the most holistic treatment programs for kids struggling with issues like ADD and video gaming addiction. The Pacific Quest approach is cutting-edge, clinical and goes beyond traditional wilderness therapy. It immerses students in natural settings and teaches them sustainable skills and how to make healthier choices, while being consistently supported by a whole family-like community.
The horticultural therapy enhances social, cognitive and physiological functioning with the primary goal of improving health and inspiring motivation for change. By placing students in caregiving roles, we are able to create an experiential environment that is both growth-focused and life-affirming. The gardens at Pacific Quest offer a living example of what growth looks like, creating a culture where words and actions are matched, leaving students with empowering life skills that are transferable beyond the garden.
Visit the Pacific Quest Admissions page to learn how you can help your kid overcome the challenge of ADD and video gaming addiction!