The world is connected more than ever before. A computer (or three) in every household is currently the norm. Unfortunately, this has created some highly negative consequences – one of them being video game addiction. With over 90% of kids between the ages of 3 and 17 playing video games, there are some who are bound to not obey reasonable limitations. Even some young adults, especially those in their college years, become addicted. Does the question then become: what should do about this problem?
Video game addiction is when the player cannot stop gaming, despite suffering major consequences such as poor grades, lack of sleep, and tensions in relationships. Companies may be partly to blame here, as they deliberately produce games that are designed to “hook” users and keep them highly engaged. However, the responsibility ultimately falls upon the users (and their parents) to keep everything in check.
Recently, the World Health Organization claimed that video gaming disorder is some kind of “mental illness” or disease. Critics argue that video games are not at fault, but rather, are simply a means of escape for people who have difficulty overcoming real problems in their lives. The judgment was a particularly contentious one that evoked strong emotions on both sides of the debate.
Over the past 5 years, consumers and especially parents have voiced growing concerns regarding the influence and harmful aspects of technology and, more specifically, video games. Although video games, social media, etc. are very economical and provide countless hours of entertainment value, negative effects include lowered self-esteem, reduced capacity of mental health, a sedentary lifestyle, and more. As always, moderation is the key to ensure matters don’t spiral out of control.
Classifying gaming disorder as a mental illness or “disease” has unwittingly sparked a major backlash from video game fans. However, the official recognition could also encourage people who game compulsively to find some variation of treatment or therapy. There have already been major strides in this direction, with technology rehab facilities and programs designated to treat “video game addicts” popping up all around the world, including the United States and Canada. In countries like China and South Korea, they are already mainstream.
Unfortunately, there is no proof and scant evidence that these methods work. There is hardly any certification required to become a “video game addiction” treatment specialist. It’s essentially a “Wild West” type of field. One option to get started is to test whether or not you or a loved one is addicted to video gaming before trying to determine what type of paid solution will most fit your situation.
Two common options that some parents have entertained are outdoors camps and rehabilitation centers. In these programs, the gaming addict is sent to some remote location with other people to play outdoors under the leadership and tutelage of “camp counselors.” These come at a hefty price tag: usually between seven thousand and twenty thousand dollars. Furthermore, there isn’t much proof or validation that the methods they use will even deliver long-term results. Many mental health professionals will use therapy techniques that they also apply to treat anxiety, drug abuse, or alcoholism on people who game compulsively.
But once again, none of these are “proven” to work. It’s usually a complete gamble whether or not the results will be durable, as often the gamer relapses back to his or her old habits. Perhaps that is the true tragedy of this situation: people who need help and are desperate can’t find it. The most pragmatic advice for dealing with this situation would be to start by evaluating problematic areas in you or a loved one’s life. Afterward, you should craft an action plan to address these problem areas one by one. Don’t “move on” until you finally overcome them.
It takes a lot of hard work, but the payoff is immense. In the meantime, let’s at least be grateful more and more people are making themselves heard.