Video game addict or just a fan?
Is your child a video game addict?At home, there’s a Wii in the family room and a dozen computer games on the desktop. In the bedrooms, there are laptops with more games. In backpacks and purses, a Nintendo DS plus a phone with an unlimited stream of games to download.
In the midst of this barrage of electronic entertainment, many parents are wondering if their kids are just playing, or if they’re in danger of becoming a video game addict.
There have always been popular games, but electronic games are different. The constant stimulation can lead some people to take it too far. So how can parents know if their children have crossed the line from game player to addicts? Here are some warning signs that might mean your kids are at risk:
The games are taking over – It's normal for kids to go through stages when a certain game or toy is a favorite. For awhile, it seems as though your son or daughter can’t get enough of it. But these obsessions soon fade as other pastimes take over.
A gaming addiction looks different. Even if one game loses its appeal, another will immediately take its place. The addiction is to gaming, not the game itself. If the Wii is out of reach, the iPhone or handheld games will come out. Or the laptop will be booted up and another game loaded.
Other achievements fall by the wayside – For most video game addicts, there are few other interests that can compete. Other hobbies, sports and even school work will be neglected as games absorb more and more time and energy. Grades will drop, friends who don’t game will be ignored. Team practices will be missed. Family time will become a burden, especially if it involves activities that replace gaming time.
The addiction will be denied – Even in the face of undeniable evidence, like staying up night after night to play games or missing school or work, a video game addict will deny that they are addicted. Just like with alcohol or drug addiction, the reality of the situation will be invisible to the game addict. If asked to stay away from their games for a day or two, they may become angry or defensive.
Fellow gamers will replace other friends – A video game addict will drift away from friends who don’t share his or her obsession. Actually, the separation will come from two directions. Friends with diverse interests will become bored with the non-stop gaming, and the game addict will begin to avoid people who might question their playing time.
Financial goals will be forgotten – That bank account intended for a new toy, piece of sports equipment, computer or stereo will be drained for games, gaming guides and gaming accessories.
The obsession lasts for more than a few months – Many kids go through phases where they appear to be addicted to some activity. It could be video games, YouTube, a sport or a certain look in clothing and music. Most of these attractions fade within a couple of months. A true addiction will not.
There is help for a video game addict. Check online or talk with your son or daughter’s school counselor or pediatrician for more information. Getting the facts and not over- reacting will give you the best odds of helping your child overcome their video game addiction successfully.