For years, the effect of video games on children has been a source of concern for parents. Some parents worry that violent games will incite violence in their children. Some worry about their children missing out on the joy of sports in lieu of their game playing. Some even worry their children will become addicted to playing video games.
While there may be grounds for concern in any of these areas, one aspect that has proven to be valid is that it is possible for both children and adults to become addicted to video games and that social anxiety disorder and depression can become a direct result of gaming addiction.
To be considered a pathological gamer, a person has to experience impairment to several areas of their lives as a result of the time spent playing. The affected areas could include experiencing problems with:
- social relationships
- family relationships
- occupational functioning (work issues)
- psychological functioning
Mental health professionals know that approximately 7-11% of gamers can be considered pathological gamers. People who average 31 hours or more a week of video game play are categorized as obsessed or addicted.
In studying this phenomenon, researchers have discovered key facts regarding the relationship between addictive game playing and social anxiety. To begin with, people with lower social competence and impulsivity are more likely to become addicted to video games. Video games, especially online games, offer them a way to interact with others socially without having to make themselves vulnerable through face-to-face relations. In addition, video games are designed with attainable rewards. For someone who feels uncomfortable in a social setting, video games may provide a sense of success and belonging that they don’t find in the real world.
For people with online gaming addiction, depression, anxiety, and social phobias seem to be predictable outcomes. Research has shown that as people become more addicted to games, their anxiety and depression worsens. Conversely, when they stop playing video games, as their video gaming addiction improves, their depression also significantly improves. Like any addiction, withdrawal symptoms from gaming addiction can include anger, verbal abuse of others, sleep disturbances, fear and anxiety, crying, mood swings, and a desire to go back to gaming and try to control the time played.
If you or someone you know is has developed an addiction to video games, it’s important to seek help. Treatment is available and with help it’s possible to alleviate both the addiction and its accompanying anxiety. For more information, and gaming addiction treatment, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.