Gaming addiction, also referred to as tech addiction or technology addiction refers to teens who become obsessed to online games is becoming a common problem that families face.
With the advance in computer graphics and technology, online video games are increasingly more visually enticing to children and teens that are spending more time in front of computer screens playing games. Mental health experts are noting a trend in problems among these teen gamers. Among the problems observed include a detachment from the reality of life around them at the expense of school success, development of a social life, physical activity and family responsibilities. Some teen gamers forego eating and sleeping as they interact with screen characters such as enemy soldiers, zombies, aliens, wizards and monsters.
Video game addiction isn’t just limited to children and teens. The trend has even been noted in young adult gamers and even married men who spend hours daily engaged in on-line gaming.
Common behaviors among teen and young adult gaming addicts include staying online gaming for seven or eight hours at a time, staying up most of the night playing video games and choosing gaming over social and recreational activities.
Tech addicted teens argue that they are socializing while gaming because they play online with other gamers around the world and suggest that their online friends relate to them more than kids at school or in the neighborhood. They suggest that having relationships with characters in the game is an adequate substitute for face to face interaction with others. For many teen gaming addicts however, the game provides an escape for their struggling social life. A characteristic of some gamers includes struggles to make and maintain friendships in real life.
Skeptics argue that obsession with video games doesn’t constitute a genuine addiction disputing whether the dependency exhibited is the same type of physical craving triggered by drugs or alcohol. Parents of video games addicts would offer a differing opinion as the behaviors manifested by their children including lying, arguing, defiance, school failure, negative attitude and laziness are similar to behaviors noted in teens addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The types of games to which teens addict vary from shooter games to sci-fi adventure journeys. Many agree however that "massive multiplayer online roleplaying games"(MMPORG) as the most addictive. A gamers success in these types of games is entirely dependent on the amount of time the game is played. Occasional gaming playing in MMPORG leaves the gamer behind those who put in more time. This drives many teen gamers to revolving their life around playing the game.
For parents who are struggling with a teen obsessed with gaming, help is available. Family Bootcamp is an ideal intervention to assist both the addicted teen and the parents with the implementation of a family plan for managing teen gaming addictions.