There are many deep concerns that teens face. The life stage of adolescence inherently comes with struggle; and that struggle is in more than just one area of life – educational, emotional, psychological, social, and physical. Because of this, teens might find some relief in certain activities, like surfing the Internet, going out with friends, or staying home on a Saturday and playing video games.
Yet, if teens continue to participate in those activities to the exclusion of developing other areas in their life, there might be an addiction. There might be a compulsive need to continue to participate in those activities because of the psychological dependence that develops.
We tend to think that addiction means a dependence on drugs or alcohol, it’s easy to dismiss the psychological consequences of participating in certain activities again and again. Some find it difficult to describe excessive video gaming as an addiction. However, the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth edition, includes a non-drug addiction diagnosis for any behavior that an individual has lost power over. Previously, gambling or other addictions were categorized under Impulse Control Disorders. However, the recent version of the DSM now places non-substance addictions under a catchall category called “Behavioral Addiction, Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)”.
One of these is a teen’s addiction to playing video games. Currently, Internet and gaming addiction is recognized as an official psychiatric diagnosis, with no listing in the DSM, which is the standardized text and clinical reference used by psychologists and therapists across North America to diagnose their clients. However, there is a growing movement to have both the Internet and gaming addiction added to the next edition of the DSM.
It is possible to develop an addiction to other behaviors and any activity that become the sole focus of one’s life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities. According to the American Psychological Association, there is evidence that points to behaviors, such as gambling, having the same high, or rush in the brain, which is similar to the use of drugs. In that way, addictions can resemble the physiological symptoms that the use of drugs and alcohol might create.
Some of the symptoms for teen gaming addiction include:
- Downplaying Computer Use
- Lack of Control
- Loss of Time
- Negative Impact on Other Areas of Life
- Hiding from Negative or Uncomfortable Feelings or Situations
- Misuse of Money
- Mixed Feelings
- Difficulty Completing Daily Tasks
- Academic Performance Decreases
- Isolation from Friends and Family
- Experiencing Euphoria with Video Game Use
If you find that your teen’s use of video games qualifies as addictive and compulsive, you might want to seek mental health services. The above list is not complete but it can provide parents with a list of signs to look for.
There are clinicians who provide support for this sort of behavioral addiction. In the meantime, you can encourage your teen to spend more time in Nature. You can also plan family outings. In this way you can provide your teen with the opportunity to clear his or her head and find a new perspective on what’s important.
Yet, when there’s an addiction, this opportunity alone may not stop the compulsive cycle. For this reason, inviting the support of a mental health professional is best.
Symptoms of Video Game Addiction in Teens. Video Game Addiction – When Video Games Become More Than Just Games. Retrieved on June 3, 2014 from: http://www.video-game-addiction.org/symptoms-computer-addiction-teens.html
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.