Video Game Addiction

Tips On Avoiding Video Game Addiction

Is that one more level or one more life getting in the way of living your own life? For many people, video games have started as a staple in personal entertainment and a habitual activity to pass the time, to a full-blown self-necessity they feel they need to fulfill. But where does one draw the line between play and problem?

Video games used to be reserved for playing in dungy basements, the backseat of a car on a family vacation, and bombastic arcades. Now, there is no escaping the grasps they can reach. A video game is on our computer, tablet, online and always in our hands. Smart video game addictionphones have made conveniences readily available to us in the palms of our hands, but they’ve also opened the floodgates to a treacherous realm where, literally, the good comes with the bad.

Children today prefer to a turn on a video game rather than go outside when they have a spare moment. This world we live in inundates the technologically advanced youth so much that it is no longer the adults that are the experts, it’s the children. Technology and the Internet have now become an extension of themselves they’ve become accustomed to since they could swipe with a finger. Our youth are immersed in media activity that assails their senses with excitement and causes addictive chemicals to release into their brains.

If you’re finding your teen or young adult continually playing video games rather than reading, doing their chores, or if the activity is impeding their schooling and daily life, then a video game addiction could be a sobering possibility. If you’re noticing this behavior pacing its way into your child’s daily life, the following tips can help in avoiding video game addiction:

  • Have your child acknowledge and say the activity they do when they come home from work or school. Saying this out loud will emphasize the repetition of their activity.
  • Encourage them to make a list of things to do. They should write down everything that has to be done during their day and list them in order of importance.
  • They should look and follow that list every day, and follow it. They can cross off each activity, duty, or task as they take care of it. This encourages children to be responsible for their actions. They will have no one to blame, but their own actions.
  • Set limits to the amount of time they are allowed to play their video games. If they are playing with other children, have them tell those children the amount of time they are allotted. Time can swiftly pass while playing video games, but others may help to remind them of their time limitations.
  • Try something new with them or something they like to do besides video games.

These tips are smaller alterations and alternatives to their usual routines. The changes shouldn’t be seen too distracting, allowing for a greater increase of success. Now, start utilizing these tips in an activity today. Go grab your teen or young adult and see what’s out there away from a screen.

The Disadvantages of Video Game Addiction

When it comes to video game addiction, what are the disadvantages? Obviously this sounds like a ridiculous question. If something is considered an addiction isn’t it often associated as a negative? Does this video game addiction : internet addiction & wilderness therapy programassociation itself make it a disadvantage? The disadvantages lie in the specific qualities a video game addiction can conjure or impede.

In recent years the interactive game has become an amazing development in the area of image quality, realism, interactivity, and the variety of games available to users. These advancements have led children and young adults to spend more of their time gaming and less time together sharing with one another.

The following are a few of the disadvantages that can come with a video game addiction:

  • Personal physical health can be seriously impacted from poor video gaming habits. Gamers become lazy and neglect necessary activities such as exercise, eating healthy and proper foods, damaged eyesight, headaches and the inability to sleep.
  • Video games can negatively affect the mental health of gamers. Focussing one’s attention on video games requires all their attention and leads to a reduced contact with the environment around. This can also lead to a lack of interest in daily activities and hobbies. Furthermore, gamers become isolated in their addiction and lack the necessary social interaction with families and friends.
  • Spending many hours in front of a screen and not enough social interaction can also cause social problems thus resulting in gamers becoming shy and introvert. Many of the games developed today are more violent, leading gamers with the tendency to lose control and become more aggressive.
  • A new research has proved that excessive playing of video games can actually stunt the growth of a human brain. While there are games that can stimulate brain activity in both the left and right hemispheres of the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is associated with learning, memory and emotion and continues to develop till the age of 20. This raises a level of concern as brain development is imperative during those crucial years.

Parents should understand the severity of keeping track of the amount of time their child spends in front of the screen playing games and also what type of games they play. Every aspect of an activity has its advantages and disadvantages; so is the law of nature. What we can do is try to maintain a balance and get the best of what it has to offer, be it nature or technology. Sometimes the best and simplest remedy is to just unplug and take a walk.

Internet: The Problem and Addiction Is Everywhere

How do you escape a problem when the culprit is everywhere, literally everywhere? In our hands, our cars, pockets and backpacks, in our refrigerators, restaurants, there’s no turning the corner where its influence cannot and will not find you. The Internet has you.wilderness therapy program for internet addiction

It has only been a few years since the Internet was a luxury and option only enjoyed at a select few locations, often reserved for the comforts of one’s home or the occasional internet cafe. Now, we can quite literally walk, run or drive and it’s with us or, sometimes, follows us. An entire generation of teens are growing up and maturing with the routine and mentality that the Internet is, and has always been, at their beck and call. They’ve grown with it, and has been a staple they’ve come to know. So how does one go about breaking away from the grips of a distracting stimulus? You disconnect from it.

The Signs and Symptoms of Internet Addiction

Before any action can be taken for Internet addiction, the individual suffering must exhibit the signs of an addictive personality. Individuals suffering from Internet addiction tend to exhibit the following traits:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Less socialization
  • Using the Internet as an emotional outlet
  • Losing track of time
  • Being defensive about Internet use
  • Inability to stop
  • Eye strain, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, poor nutrition, or trouble sleeping
  • Using the Internet for inappropriate activities

Disconnect, now!

If your teen or young adult is found to be addicted to the Internet, one of the most positive solutions is a wilderness therapy program. Since the Internet is readily and, almost, always available to everyone, the most common solution of disconnecting can often be the most problematic. Where do you go where the Internet cannot reach or is carefully monitored?

At the Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program the means of fostering the addictive Internet behavior is removed and replaced with activities, experiences and organic gardening that offer teens a better and, sometimes, more honest view of life. Through individual or group therapy sessions,  teens or young adults work with our clinicians to discover why they allow themselves to focus on such addictive behavior. Without computers, televisions, video games, and other distractions they are left with an open environment for them to focus on their lives, mistakes, relationships at home and begin to foster new interests they may never have known of with a screen in front of them.

Without the technological distractions, the teens and young adults attending may finally have a one-on-one experience with nature. Something they never would have known or had available to them being locked in their bedrooms staring at a screen of some kind.

With such a back to basics approach as a wilderness therapy program can offer, teens are released from their destructive constraints and realize that there is more to life than a posted tweet or a high score on a video game.

Tips to Avoid Internet Addiction

Having trouble shutting down your computer? Can’t stop refreshing your Facebook or Twitter streams? Will that video game not let you go? Like any form of entertainment or productivity, the Internet is becoming a compulsion. wilderness therapy program for internet addictionAs human beings, we are compulsively seeking unpredictable payoffs. What do people think of my new photo? What will happen after I conquer this level? We always want to find out and want more.

An entire generation of teens and young adults have grown up with the notion that the Internet can be as simple to access as going to their back pocket or purse. The Internet allows for constant social interaction whether it is Social Media or video games. They are always entertained by its offerings to the point that the “real” world does not seem as engaging or interesting. As a parent, how do you go about steering away your teen from the hooks of Internet addiction?

Here are a few tips and steps to incorporate into your daily life to help avoid the addictive compulsion.

  • Complete your studies. Electronics can get in the way of your teen’s academics. Upon arriving home from school, have your teen focus on their homework or project they have due. They will gain a great sense of relief and accomplishment knowing they’ve finished their homework early. Instead of the all-knowing Wikipedia website, have your teen utilize books or the library for research papers. Teachers will greatly appreciate this.
  • Limit their computer, TV, or video game time. Allot times for your teen’s electronic activities. If they use a laptop or tablet, make sure to put it somewhere they will not see it every day. Encourage them to keep the lid closed on their laptop when not in use; when the computer is not looking at you, you are less likely to use it.
  • Call people instead of sending text messages. It’s too easy for teens to send a text and not have to converse with someone over the phone. Have them call a friend and ask them to do something outside of the house for the day.
  • Plan family nights. One of the simplest manners of minimizing your teen’s Internet usage is planning an activity away from the television, computer or separate, individual activities. Instead eat dinner together, with those electronic distractions off, as a family and plan games for afterward.
  • Realize they have an addiction and that more and more people in the world are becoming addicted to the Internet. Understand that Internet addiction is a very real problem and that your teen is not alone. This addictive behavior is becoming more and more common and well known.

Many families and parents find it difficult to simply disconnect their teen from the Internet. A wilderness therapy program can often be the best solution for this problem. Pacific Quest presents teens the opportunity to engage and interact with nature and our clinicians to help them overcome their underlying need for the Internet.

Our Organic Gardening and Horticultural Therapy allows teens to connect to something that requires their attention and responsibility, rather than a novelty or a tweet. Teens learn the responsibility that comes from working for a goal and that there is more to life than what’s behind a screen.

Symptoms of video game addiction – getting it under control

Can a game truly become an addiction for children and young adults? Experts say absolutely- It’s a clinical impulse control disorder, an addiction in the same sense as compulsive gambling.

Spending a lot of time playing video games doesn’t necessarily qualify as an addiction for children and young adults. The question that needs to be asked is: Can they always control their gaming activity?”

Warning signs/symptoms

Video game addiction signs and symptoms to watch for in children and young adults include, but are not limited to:

  • They are lying about or minimizing time spent playing video games. (Does your child tell you they spent 1 hour playing, but you know they played for 2 hours or more? Perhaps they are even lying about computer or video game use so that computer or video game privileges aren’t taken away. )
  • They exhibit defensive behavior.  (Are you getting an angry reaction or an outright denial when asking your child about their video game playing?)
  • Most of their “free time,” non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games. Other parts of their life, like hobbies, schoolwork, friends, or sports can become neglected, because they are devoting more and more time to game play.
  • They are fatigued all the time, perhaps even falling asleep in school.
  • They are hiding feelings. Some kids and teens turn to video games as an escape, to avoid dealing with upsetting emotions, real-life problems and even anxiety, or depression.
  • They are not keeping up with homework and/or not turning in assignments on time.
  • They exhibit worsening irritable, cranky or agitated behavior when not playing video games on TV or the computer.
  • Keeping documentation and logs of when your child plays and for how long, what are the problems that are resulting from gaming and how your child reacts to time limits will help if there is a potential problem and you intend to seek professional help.

Get it under “control “

If you are concerned about the amount of time your child or young adult is playing any kind of video games and the possibility of addiction to video games, take action! Limiting the amount of play should put some balance back into their lives, and make way for other activities and help avoid possible addiction to video games.

However, if attempts to limit game playing are marked anger and increased aggression in your child, it means that there is an addictive quality to their playing and they may actually have an “addiction to video games.”  If this is the Video game addiction in teens and young adultscase, playing needs to be ceased altogether. Because limiting game time, as some people have suggested, to an hour a day lets say, may be comparable to an alcoholic saying they’re only going to drink one beer!

Treatment for video game addiction is similar to detox for other addictions, with one important difference: Computers have become an important part of everyday life. Even in school computers are now used on a daily basis. So just like with a food addiction, for example, children and young adults with a video game addiction must learn to live with it being around them all the time and to be responsible.

As ironic as it may sound, there are actually computer applications available now that can be downloaded and configured to block access to the internet- namely Freedom © and SelfControl ©. This may support initial efforts at gaining control and responsibility.

However, a mere distraction or deterrent to keep your child from being on the Internet won’t be of much help to get over video game addictions. Getting the actual habit out of their system completely is what seems to really matter. Perhaps the biggest key to getting gaming under control is to show gamers they are powerless over their addiction, and then teach them “real-life excitement as opposed to online excitement.”

Some other helpful tips and suggestions for your child may be: Exercise– going for a walk, to the park, to a sports/rec center etc…/ Develop a hobby- learning to play an instrument, paint, sing, dance etc…/ Allocate specific time for using the computer for things other than video games/ Have them use reference books instead of always looking things up on the computer/ Go to bed early.

Parents report amazing results from limiting video game usage or removing it completely for children working through a video game addiction. Freedom from the addiction allows kids to actually start going outside to play, regain interest in their toys, friends, school and to join in family activities. Most importantly, getting these addictions under control allows children their most cherished right- the right to be happy, joyous and free!

Teens getting hooked on Video Games

What are they and why do they effect teens?

Most teenagers can and do play video games without developing an addiction. However, for some teens there is no question that their computer use is unhealthy and excessive by anyone’s standards. For them video games take priority over all other activities, and development in other areas (school, relationships, clubs, sports) are sacrificed just so that more time can be spent in front of the computer or tv screen. It really does not matter if this is called an “addiction” or not.  Teens who continue to play excessively despite experiencing significantvideo game addiction in teens negative consequences in other areas of their lives are likely “hooked” on video games.

Many people have been arguing that teens don’t play video games excessively because video games themselves are unnaturally addictive; Rather that teens probably self-medicate with video games to excess because they have serious emotional problems. Blaming video game addiction on video games themselves, they say, is dangerous – because the real issues and the real problems are allowed to pass through and fester into more dangerous developmental/ emotional problems.

However, more recently, parents and researchers are speaking up: There are numerous studies showing that, for some teens, games have the same effect on their brain as habit-forming drugs; that playing video games floods the player’s brain with dopamine, a mood-regulating hormone that induces pleasurable feelings. Scientists liken this hit of dopamine to that observed following intravenous injections of amphetamine or methylphenidate, a drug used to treat ADHD.

What makes some games SO addictive?

There are several different “hooks” programmed into games that keep players riveted to the virtual action. Not all of them exist in every single game, but the more that are present, the greater the chance of teenaged video game players becoming hooked.

  • Beating the Game. For this hook, the desire to beat the game increases as a player “levels up,” or finds the next hidden clue. To conquer a game, one must spend untold hours navigating increasingly difficult levels. Video games are designed to feed a never-ending and growing appetite for more and more and more… requiring searching every nook and cranny of screen space for hidden bonuses, leading to the second addictive quality etc …
  • Exploration. Some games are entirely about traversing and studying imaginary worlds. That’s a powerful draw made stronger by the inclusion of secret levels, which have been built into video games since the earliest edition of “Super Mario Bros.”
  • Mastery. Video game programmers build feedback into the game (i.e. hand controllers vibrate when your player is “shot”) so that players get visual and physical responses to what they’re doing onscreen. Psychologically, this fuels the learning process, making the player even more eager to ‘master’ elements of the game.
  • The High Score. This is probably the most easily recognizable hook. Of course, beating the high score has been an incentive since the earliest pinball machines and video games I played at the candy store in the 80’s. But video games now are different in that the higher you go, the more difficult the game becomes. Players spend countless hours trying to get a new high score, even if the one they’re besting is their own.
  • Story-Driven & Role-Playing. Everyone wants to know how the story ends, whether it’s a children’s fairy tale or a plot-driven video game. Some games let teens control an onscreen figure, but role-playing games go much deeper by allowing the player to create and become the character in a story. An emotional attachment to the character and the story makes it much harder to stop playing, that is why more and more games are constructed around a foundational story.
  • Discovery. These games hook teens because they involve exploring imaginary worlds. This adventure/thrill of discovery (even of places that don’t really exist) can be extremely compelling.
  • Competition. Boys and girls love the thrill of competition. With multiplayer options, teens can take on both the game and other gamers for “bragging rights”. It seems some committed fans go so far as to schedule activities and sleep patterns to accommodate a network of online partners or opponents.
  • Relationships. Online role-playing games allow teens to build relationships with other players. This online community of peers becomes the place where players are most accepted, which draws them back. The fantasy of role-playing games let teens create personas that are much different from who they are in real life. For example, an overweight, athletically challenged boy can become a muscle-bound superhero in an online world, thus making friends with people who would not normally associate with him. Pressure to keep up with online peers also produces powerful incentives to keep improving.

Popular video games that teens are HOOKING into:

Then there are the MMORPG’s (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) such as World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Everquest. These are popular because they feature persistent game environments, forms of progression, social interactions within the game, membership in a group, and character customization.

Getting unhooked- go cold turkey?

The psychologically addictive elements of video gaming become even more troublesome when you consider that they affect young people precisely at the time when their developing brains are being hardwired for life. Video games present a source of stimulation: because games provide intense visual & auditory action, they can be very compelling for thrill or excitement seekers (especially those with AD/HD). They also provide negative reinforcement: when game playing provides rapid relief of emotional teen pain or angst, it can become habit-forming.

During teenage years, children are acquiring tastes for what they’ll enjoy in life. So there’s a dampening of the ability to enjoy music, to enjoy art, to enjoy reading, to enjoy all these other things when their video games take precedence over everything.

In moderation, it has been shown that some video games can provide a fun diversion for teens wired to handle them well, particularly if families use multiplayer games to bond with adolescents. It is Important to stress that not every teen who plays video games will have a hard time putting them down, but studies show that as many as one in three gamers will eventually get hooked! Perhaps in those homes, “game over” may be the wisest strategy.