Video gaming addiction is a big topic of discussion these days. How do you determine if your child is
addicted or just part of the digital age? There are different schools of thought out there that say it is an
addiction like gambling or drug abuse while others claim that it is a benign game that stimulates
problem solving and socialization. When we were growing up, we used to go off to play for the day,
returning home for meals when the street lights came on. Today we do not allow our children outside to
play freely as we used to. Our kids do not have the ability to live like we did as the world has become
faster paced, both parents work, single parents may need extra help with their kids, and activities are
Because gaming is the way that our children play in today’s world, we must understand its pro’s and
con’s. In gaming the goal of the game is to get to the next level, to finish the mission, and be a strong
teammate for their friends who are also playing. A parent might wonder if gaming is impacting impulse
control? Does it represent the new friendship cycle? What role does gaming play in their child’s life?
Advantages of gaming are cognitive skills developments, hand-eye coordination, problem solving,
increased multitasking skills, improved vision, decreased anxiety and depression and an increased social
network. Multi-player games are allowing our youth to learn about other countries while forming
lifelong friendships that continue outside of the gaming world. Additionally, education has taken a leap
into the digital age through programs that involve building math and spelling skills thereby improving
academic skills unbeknownst to the unsuspecting child!!!
All the same, there are some major disadvantages to electronic usage. First is that our children are
sitting idle, missing out on opportunities to exercise while obesity is on the rise. Secondly, children are
also missing out on the developmental tasks of processing emotions when they escape into their video
games during moments of emotional discomfort, anger, anxiety or boredom. Another frequently heard
concern is the argument that video games increase violent and aggressive behavior in children.
This is where your role as a parent comes in: monitor your children. Most kids are willing to discuss their
games with you, ask questions and set boundaries. Set aside time where gaming is not allowed, and they
must engage in creative play, social play, structured games and other fun activities which do not involve
The greatest danger with electronics usage comes in the form of a gaming addiction. Game playing and
electronics usage can release dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that plays a part in addiction. This
can be where a child’s gaming usage becomes an unhealthy dependency or addiction.
How do you know when your child has developed a dependence on gaming? Signs of gaming addiction
1. Irritability, anger, tantrums when your child cannot play video games
2. Compulsive preoccupation with the game, cannot stop thinking or talking about the game
3. Isolation from family and friends
4. Lying about the amount of time spent on gaming, become defensive when asked
5. Poor sleeping habits, poor hygiene
6. Missing school to play games
Children who suffer from a gaming addiction will need the help of a therapist to overcome the addiction.
If your child is struggling with the symptoms of the Internet Use Disorder or gaming addiction described
above, contact So Cal Therapy Center. We have therapists trained in this area and can help both you
and your child successfully get through the withdrawal period, recover from the gaming addiction and
create a healthy future.