How do I help someone I know who is addicted to video games?

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

By Brooke Strickland

More and more, we are hearing about video game addiction in the news.  Kids, teenagers, young adults, and even married couples are seeing the devastating effects of gaming addiction in their homes. Gaming may start out as innocent fun – a way to kill time – but it can soon take hold of a person’s mind and overtake the way they view and live life – killing their relationships and for some, even taking their lives.

If someone you know is showing signs of video game addiction, don’t sit by and let it happen.  Take action and learn about the problem and how it’s affecting them, as well as their family and friends.  It’s important to remember that people that are addicted to gaming are not intrinsically bad people, but that they are truly living with an addiction that needs to be kicked and overcome.  Next, don’t minimize gaming addiction.  It might be easy to think, “They’re just playing games – at least they aren’t drinking or doing drugs all day.”  It’s true that drugs and alcohol can be powerful addictions, but so can addiction to video games.  Many of these games are built to control the mind and can have the same effects of drug and alcohol use. If you feel like your loved one’s quality of life is being affected by the amount of time they spend gaming, it’s time to consider how you can help.

So, how can I help?

1) Don’t enable. Enabling is a term that refers to allowing people avoid the consequences of their actions. For example, if you were to cut off all connection to video games in your home, your child may not like it and may act out violently. They may say hateful things to you and you worry about how their reaction will be if you make a move toward a game-free home. So, because of your fear of how they might respond or because you just don’t want to see your loved one hurt, you just let them continue gaming. This is enabling behavior and is detrimental to the wellbeing of your loved one.

2) Provide support. When dealing with an addiction, it is often hard to understand and come to terms with. You may wonder why this is happening or how it could have gotten so out of hand. You may not understand what is so addictive about the games and you may get angry because everything that you’re doing just isn’t breaking through. These are normal feelings and it’s ok to have these emotions. Even when there is nothing more tangible that you can do, still focus on showing your love and support. Stand by your loved one and tell them continually that you are there for them and want to see them live a better life.

3) Find help. There are resources out there for video game addicts as well as families that are suffering from the fallout of a gaming addict in their life. There are counseling centers, rehab support groups, religious centers, and books that can help get you through this challenging time.

 

Video game addiction is very real.  For more information on game and technology addiction, visit www.hooked-on-games.com.