“Mom, I love video games so much. I’m addicted!” touts my 6-year-old. “Now there’s something to proud of,” I silently mutter to myself.
What my son doesn’t know is that video game addiction is a very real compulsion that often begins innocently enough. For all he knows, video games are nothing more than a fun way to pass the time, but what happens when a passion for gaming becomes a dangerous obsession?
It has been estimated that young Americans spend in excess of 10,000 hours playing video games before the age of 21. If we think for a moment that logging those kinds of hours doesn’t have a profound impact on developing minds, perhaps it’s time to turn off the game console and think again.
Compulsive gaming behaviors 1 of 7
If you've ever wondered if your child's gaming behavior warrants cause for concern, take a look at 7 common signs of video game addiction.
Increased isolation 2 of 7
If your once social child has become increasingly withdrawn, video games might be to blame. According to WebMD, "Video game addicts tend to become isolated, dropping out of their social networks and giving up other hobbies. It's about somebody who has completely withdrawn from other activities,'" says Kimberly Young, psychologist and clinical director of the Center for On-Line Addiction.
Gaming as an escape 3 of 7
For kids grappling with issues surrounding low self-esteem, gaming had been known to provide an escape from feelings of worthlessness. Young told the Daily News that the ability to "become dominant in the game" is a powerful motivator for those struggling to exist in their present realities. For others, gaming provides a welcome distraction. Dr. Michael Fraser, clinical psychologist and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College explained, "When it comes time to bear down and concentrate, rather than work through that frustration they escape into gaming, like a drug."
Lying about/covering up gaming 4 of 7
While it can be hard to determine how much game time is "healthy" or even normal in today's media-obsessed landscape, lying and/or secrecy surrounding gaming presents a red flag. Carefully monitor your child's gaming activities and access by establishing clear and consistently managed limits.
Increasingly violent behavior 5 of 7
While video games affect children differently, increasingly violent behavior should never be ignored. Young notes a correlation between violent video games and aggressive behaviors in children, "Kids will throw things, they'll hit their parents, they'll start becoming violent at school. Parents say, 'He was a good boy; he didn't act like this before.'"
Poor academic performance 6 of 7
Tecca.com's Jennifer Jolly told CBS News that a decline in grades is one of the many signs of video game addiction. Video game addicted children are often unfocused in school and tend to rush through or neglect school assignments at home in favor of gaming.
Decline in self-care 7 of 7
It's easy for kids to neglect personal hygiene and basic self-care when gaming is the top priority. Parents, if you notice changes in your child's personal grooming habits, it's time to reevaluate the frequency and duration of gaming activities.