If you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve almost certainly heard of Candy Crush. The popular game has been downloaded over 500 million times, and it’s safe to say that playing games to reduce stress or simply pass the time has become a fixture of modern life.
Yet there is growing concern about addictive behavior related to computer games. The cause of concern focuses on online games, which are often highly interactive and create virtual worlds for the user. Some of these games are multi-player, allowing users to play in real-time with friends or strangers online. Others simply use the online interface to host the game. Whatever the format, these games are designed to attract users to play repeatedly and for extended periods.
The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association states that while gaming disorders are not yet ready for inclusion as a standalone disorder, there is mounting evidence that gaming is addictive. Specifically, scientists have observed that when gaming, users’ brains light up in similar patterns to drug users getting high. Combined with behavioral patterns, this is a strong indication that gaming can indeed be understood as an addiction.
Even so, most people who play online games are not addicted. So, how can you know if you might be affected by this emergent disorder? Here is a list of 5 warning signs that your gaming might be problematic.
- Anger at interruptions to your gaming. Nobody likes to be interrupted when they are doing something enjoyable. But if you experience a great amount of anger when someone takes you away from your gaming, you might be overly committed to your pastime.
- Lying or defending your habit. We all stretch the truth when it comes to habits that others don’t approve of. However, if you are consistently lying or getting overly defensive about your gaming, your habit might have a bigger hold on you than you think.
- Neglect of your responsibilities. Do you find yourself getting into trouble at work or school for not meeting expectations? If your gaming comes at the cost of managing your life, you may have a problem.
- Excessive spending on games. For students, spending pocket money on that latest game may not be too much of a problem. If you are skimping on food or other necessities to stay plugged in, there is cause for concern. And, if you are an adult and find your budget out of balance due to spending on games, it’s time to think about your priorities.
- Social problems. Everyone knows people are talking less and less face to face, and relying more on digital media to stay connected. However, if you are having significant difficulty maintaining healthy relationships due to your gaming, you may want to seek help.
Gaming addiction is a treatable disease. At the Cabin, we offer cutting edge, tailored treatment programs based on solid research. If you are concerned about a gaming addiction, we recommend you contact a licensed professional for a consultation.