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Initial efforts to define video game addiction were made by modifying the diagnostic criteria for known addictions such impulsive gambling. However, this informal technique has not been widely adopted and as such; psychologists, psychiatrists, and researchers have been forced to define video game addiction without standardized diagnostic criteria. Definitions of video game addiction often include the following symptoms:
Video game addiction obviously does not have the same impact on everyone who experiences it. In general though, the problems associated with unhealthy video game habits can be classified according to the five following categories:
People struggling with video game addiction may be at a greater risk for depression, loneliness, social anxiety, anger, and feelings of shame or embarrassment for spending so much time playing games. Note that these issues may be the result of video game addiction but may also play roles in the development of excessive play.
This is not typically an issue for children, but adults and adolescents may find themselves spending large sums of money on new computer equipment, consoles, subscription fees, and of course, new video games. Additionally, financial difficulties can occur when the person loses the motivation to work (a frequent occurrence), has his or her hours reduced due to poor job performance, or is fired.
People addicted to video games often develop poor sleep habits (due to late night gaming sessions), may neglect personal hygiene, may get very little physical activity, and may make poor choices with regard to eating (e.g., frequent snacking so that gaming can continue rather than having proper meals). Excessive video game play has been linked to childhood obesity.
As the addiction worsens, video game addicts tend to spend more time playing and less quality time with friends, family, or significant others. The addict may claim that he or she has “lots of friends online” yet still experience loneliness, depression, and social isolation due to the lack of in-person contact with others.
Family problems may be the most common difficulty for those who are addicted to video games. Although poor family relationships may increase the likelihood of video game addiction, video game addiction often leads to family conflict. Someone addicted to video games may accuse concerned family members of trying to interfere in his or her life, may be verbally or physically aggressive when others attempt to limit gameplay, and may try to hide just how much he/she plays. Parents with children or teens addicted to video games may disagree about how much of a problem it is or how to intervene.
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