Do you sit in front of the TV or computer screen for hours on end and simply can’t get enough of the gaming world? When you lay down at night after a day of gaming, does your mind race with thoughts of the games? When you’re at work or school, do you count down the hours until you can get home and start gaming again? Has your social life changed because of your use of video games? If the answers to these questions are “yes”, it’s time to evaluate your use of the games and seek help.
A recent article published on the blog Screen Sense, recounts the letter of a young boy that recognizes his addiction to video games and his search for help. He writes, “First of all, I am addicted to video games, I feel like without them I feel sad. My parents argue a lot and they both complain to me about each other and I just feel annoyed and I just want to play video games. However, my addiction has gone too far and my marks in school have dropped a lot, they have dropped enough that I might have to retake a year of school.” (1)
Does this sound familiar to you? If you’re struggling with gaming addiction, we’ve outlined a few steps to help you on your journey towards living a game-free life.
Step #1: The letter above shows courage and vulnerability. For anyone who has struggled with addiction, or has known someone struggling with addiction, you know that one of the hardest parts of the journey is being honest with yourself and acknowledging that there is a problem. No one wants to admit that they are flawed. But when you actually take a step towards healing, that is exactly where healing can begin to take place.
Step #2: Cut back, a little at a time. For many, they think cutting off the game cold turkey will work. This will work for some people, but not everyone. If you are gaming for multiple hours a day, start cutting back your game playing by an hour each day. Set a timer if you need to, or have a friend or family member keep you accountable. Baby steps are important, so cutting back a little bit of time every day is helpful in “weaning” yourself off the games. It’s normal to feel withdrawal symptoms during this period. If the withdrawal symptoms are at a point where you are feeling like you are endangering yourself or your loved ones, seek help immediately.
Step #3: Address what the root cause of your gaming addiction is. Are there thoughts or feelings that trigger your game use? Are there parts of your past that have caused you hurt that make you want to use games to cover up the hurt you experienced? Be mindful of what is causing your addiction and seek help to overcome what it is that is holding you up.
Living a game-free, fulfilled life is possible. Congratulate yourself for admitting that there is a problem and be willing to work hard and change your life. It takes a brave person to battle addiction.
To get more information on gaming addiction and to get help, visit www.hooked-on-games.com.
- 1.Stiffelman, Susan. “Boy Writes Parent Coach for Help with Video Game Addiction.” Screen Sense. Posted online January 21, 2014. Accessed January 22, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-stiffelman/video-game-addiction_b_4633711.html
By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan, MD PhD