Video games are fun. In moderation, they can even be good for you. A study conducted in 2016 by a Spanish research team found that teens who played video games for a small amount of time each week (one hour) had better motor skills and higher school achievement scores than their non-gaming peers.
Unfortunately, too much time with video games can be harmful and may indicate a gaming addiction.
What Is Gaming Disorder?
Gaming disorder, or video game addiction, is a condition characterized by an obsessive need to play video games. Adolescents with gaming disorder may ignore schoolwork, stay up all night and spend all of their free time in front of a television or computer screen.
Gaming disorder is not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), the so-called “bible” of mental illnesses, but is often considered to be similar to other behavioral addictions, including gambling addiction.
Symptoms of Video Game Addiction
Gaming disorder isn’t just about enjoying video games – it’s about needing to play video games in order to feel normal.
Signs and symptoms of video game addiction include:
- Needing to play games longer and longer to achieve the same “rush”
- Feeling irritable or anxious when not playing video games
- Repeated failed attempts to stop or cut back on video games
- Social isolation in favor of video games
- Lying to others about the amount of time spent gaming
Excessive gaming can also result in numerous physical symptoms including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Some individuals who are addicted to video games may neglect personal hygiene and meals because they feel as though they are unable to take breaks from the game. They may also miss school and work.