Are you worried about your kid’s video game habits? Video game addiction is a serious problem. Kids who play too much are at risk for sleep deprivation, problems with physical health and weight, and mental health issues.
How would you know if your child is at risk of video game addiction? Research shows those who play for fun or to be social are less likely to become addicted than those who play for status or to escape from their problems.
Some kids become addicted to video games because they’re trying to avoid other issues, like problems at school or interactions with other kids.
Warning Signs That a Child Might Be Addicted to Video Games
Video games that depict violence are of particular concern and it’s these games that tend to be most popular for all age groups. That’s why it’s important to monitor what games your child plays and how much time they spend doing it.
Let’s look at some red-flag signs that your child might be addicted to video games.
Difficulty stopping after a short time.
If you find your kid playing video games for what seems like hours, even though they said they would stop after just 10 minutes, it may be cause for concern. Addiction is characterized by being unable to set limits on gaming. Get a feel for how long your child spends playing video games, and establish boundaries.
Difficulty stopping after a long time.
When children start school, they are likely to be exposed to other activities besides gaming, and it’s normal for them to stop playing games for longer periods. But if your child played video games before starting school and continues to play when other activities are available (like during summer vacation or with friends), this could indicate an addiction problem.
The takeaway: If you find your child can’t stop playing video games, no matter how much free time they have or how much trouble this behavior is causing them at home, it’s time to take action.
They’re ignoring their responsibilities in favor of gaming.
Excessive preoccupation with gaming is another warning sign of addiction to video games. Red flags include:
- Spending so much time playing games that it cuts into schoolwork or other activities
- Being irritable when trying to cut back or stop gaming
- Losing sleep because of late-night gaming sessions, but still having trouble waking up in the morning
- Having little interest in previous hobbies or social interactions (such as hanging out with friends)
One of the most common signs that a child is addicted to video games is if they lose interest in other activities. If they used to play sports and ride their bike and now spend that time gaming, it’s a cause for concern.
They’re not interested in anything else besides video games.
If your child constantly talks about video games even in inappropriate situations, consider whether they are addicted to video games.
For example, if your child talks about video games when they’re at the dinner table or while eating food with their friends, that’s a sign that video games could be bordering on obsession.
For some kids, playing video games becomes so all-consuming that they can talk of little else. It’s not a healthy situation.
Their performance at school or work is suffering because of their gaming habit.
A child addicted to video games may lose interest in school. A sudden change in your child’s school performance — from good grades to poor grades or an unexplained drop in participation — can indicate that something else is occupying their mind.
Video games can also distract from your child’s responsibilities at home, such as chores and homework. And although it might seem obvious, kids who play video games for several hours every day will have a hard time focusing on their studies even if they do make it to class.
They’re spending more time playing than they are sleeping.
Another sign that your child may be addicted is if they stay awake all night playing games, or sneak in gaming during the wee hours of the morning. Also, be concerned if your child plays for long stretches — days, weeks, even months — without taking breaks and meeting other obligations like school and work.
They may also lie about their gaming behavior to cover up how much time they spend playing games. An example would be if your teenager says he’s spending weekends with friends but really wastes the whole weekend gaming instead.
If your child is exhibiting any of these warning signs, it’s important to talk to them about their gaming habits. Help them set healthy limits on their playing time, and make sure they’re still making time for other activities they enjoy. If you’re concerned that your child might be addicted to video games, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.
The best way to keep your children safe is to be informed and prepared. If you feel like your child is sliding toward video game addiction, it’s time to face that fear head-on and get some help. At the very least, sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with them about your concerns.
“Video Game Addiction – Psychology Today.” psychologytoday.com/us/basics/video-game-addiction.
“The Video Games Your Child Plays Has an Effect on Their ….” 06 Apr. 2016, healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_rfmd6ynh.
“Do Video Games Cause Violence: Kids Apps Statistics ….” 15 May. 2019, findmykids.org/blog/en/do-video-games-cause-violence.