Internet Gaming Disorder

The word “addiction” is thrown around a lot when discussing and exploring media and technology. The research is ongoing and the medical community seems hesitant to label what society is calling “Internet addiction.”

But, families across the nation are seeing an uptick in teen gaming. Gaming is popular among teens – especially teenage boys. According to Pew Research Center, “more than eight-in-ten teens (84%) say they have a game console at home or have access to one, and 90% say they play video games on a computer, game console or cellphone, according to a survey of young people aged 13-17 conducted earlier this year. Substantial majorities of both boys and girls play video games and have access to a video game console, but gaming is nearly ubiquitous among teenage boys. An overwhelming 92% of teen boys have access to a game console, compared with 75% of girls. And 97% of teen boys play video games on some kind of device, compared with 83% of girls.”

Now, people are concerned about “Gaming addiction” and whether or not teens and young people are spending too much time playing video games.

The American Psychiatric Association calls the problem “Internet Gaming Disorder” but stops short of classifying it as a formal disorder, noting that more clinical research is needed.

Hilarie Cash, the founder of reSTART, finds that stance “a great puzzle” since Internet addiction is such a huge problem for so many people, she said.

Although the jury is still out on whether it is a classified disorder, there are warning signs you can look out for if you are concerned about your teen’s behavior surrounding video games.

Here are some red flags, according to reSTART:

  • Craving more time on the computer and Internet
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Feeling restless when not engaged in the activity
  • Computer use interfering with school performance
  • Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities
  • Being dishonest with others

Common Sense Media points out that,  “If you have real concerns about your kid’s behavior and notice mood changes, falling grades, mounting bills, or a lack of human interaction, you may want to talk with your pediatrician about the possibility of game addiction or the idea that another issue, such as depression, might be causing these problems.”

In other words, games may not be the issue, but the escape for the person having the issue or the underlying problem. The game is the escape.

Project B3 knows that video games are NOT bad. Video games are FUN! They can be educational, interactive, teach team-building skills and encourage play. But, just like social media and any screen time activities, they need to be used in moderation. If you are playing video games impulsively and feel like you can’t stop, it may be a problem.