Is My Child Addicted to Video Games?

Learn about Internet Gaming Disorder and its effects on teens

Words by
Joseph Pratt

DEC 01, 2021

Is My Child Addicted to Video Games?

Learn about Internet Gaming Disorder and its effects on teens

What Is Internet Gaming Disorder?

You’ve left work, battled the evening grocery store crowds, and finally arrived at home. While finding a spot on the counter for your bags, you step on a half-eaten PB&J sandwich. Your calls to the kids go unanswered, and then you discover them lost in another world—glued to their game, the only light from the artificial glow of the TV. Many parents experience feelings of frustration, guilt, and concern about the amount of time their children spend gaming, along with worry about the possible harmful side effects.

Unfortunately, this scene has become commonplace as gaming companies use the “best principles of psychological theory and marketing” to keep game controllers in hand (Faust & Prochaska, 2017, p. 273). The problem has become so widespread that the American Psychiatric Association has determined that internet gaming disorder (IGD) is a condition that requires further study to understand its effects on gamers. Brain research is ongoing to evaluate how playing video games releases dopamine and encourages continued play (Kühn, 2011).

Can Teens Become Addicted to Gaming?

Recent studies show that brains physically change when people experience IGD, resembling a drug-addicted mind. There is also reason to believe excessive gaming leads to increased anxiety levels in teens. Studies have found that children with no history of mental health concerns can develop IGD symptoms within the first year of exposure. When there are no restrictions, most children are at risk of developing an unhealthy gaming connection (Faust & Prochaska, 2017, p. 273).

Signs of Internet Gaming Disorder in Children

To know if your child is showing signs of IGD, observe their behavior and look for the following:

  • Preoccupations with gaming
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms (headaches)
  • Preference for increasingly intense gaming experiences
  • Reduced interest in other activities
  • Hesitancy to admit how long or how often they game
  • Lost relationships
  • Avoids negative emotions through gaming distractions
  • Lack of focus
  • Inability to stop gaming, despite experiencing negative impacts

How Can I Connect With My Child?

Having ongoing family discussions about technology use can help you better understand your child’s gaming experience. To help you get the conversation started, here are some suggestions:

Conversations about video game addiction:

  • I can see you are really into this game! Tell me about it. How long do you think you would play this game if you never had to stop?
  • How do you feel when you have to stop?
  • Why do you think games make us feel like that?
  • What do you think is a healthy amount of time to play video games each day?
  • What can we do together to make sure you are feeling healthy?
  • Let’s take a break and have a snack together. What sounds good?

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