Category Archives: Video Gaming Addiction

Understanding, Treating and Preventing Digital Addiction 

 

 

In recent years, the world has been consumed with technology. The digital age has exploded in the modern world, and reliance on technology increases every day. Most people know when to take a break from their laptops, tablets and smartphones to just relax and enjoy the world outside, but some people become too invested in their tech. The issue has become so bad that new mental health problems have developed as a result. 

 

What is Digital Addiction?

 

Addiction is characterized by a need to use digital devices to the point where people do it compulsively and ceasing to do so over a significant period of time causes great emotional and physical duress. When this issue reaches a point where it negatively impacts the person’s life, it becomes a mental health problem and treatment becomes necessary. 

 

Digital addiction is separated into three groups; phone, Internet and social media addiction. Phone addiction is hallmarked by a reliance on a smartphone specifically. People with phone addiction constantly have their phones in their hands, check their phones incessantly, use their phones frequently in social situations and even develop anxiety when they don’t have their phones on them. 

 

Internet addiction is a reliance on the Internet through the use of any device. They spend a bulk of their time online, and some cases get so severe that the sufferer might develop difficulties discerning reality from the virtual world. Internet addiction can also lead to gambling problems or a gaming addiction.

 

Finally, social media addiction is an impulsive need to constantly check, scroll through and update social media pages such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and more. Not being able to keep updated on these social media pages causes feelings of depression.

 

How is Digital Addiction Treated?

 

The first step to treating a tech addiction, as with any addiction, is realizing the problem. With tech use being so common in today’s world, it can be very difficult to determine when the line has been crossed into developing an addiction. Friends and family members can help draw the person’s attention to the issue, but, ultimately, the person needs to realize what’s happening for themselves and seek treatment.

 

Once the person is already on the road to seeking help, the next step is making sure this addiction isn’t a symptom of another problem. Tech addiction is commonly a problem branched off from other mental health problems including, but not limited to;

 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Schizophrenia

 

If the addiction is the only issue, the next step is digital detox. Just as it sounds, a digital detox involves breaking away fully from the Internet, social media and all manner of Internet-ready devices like phones and tablets. However, it’s not purely about quitting technology altogether. It’s about socializing face to face, getting some fresh air outdoors, enjoying sports and other physical games, taking up a hobby, developing a skill and reestablishing life without the reliance on the digital world.

 

Additionally, going through a digital detox allows for the development of healthy tech use practices. Unlike many other addictions where the addictive behavior can be dropped entirely, like with drugs, alcohol or smoking, it’s difficult to drop Internet, social media and device usage since they’re so deeply ingrained in everyday life. 

 

Developing healthier patterns in tech use allows people to return to the digital realm without becoming leashed to it. 

 

Behavioral therapies have been effective for treating addictions to technology. These therapies introduce healthier alternatives to Internet or device usage to help alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression, stress and more that comes from the deprivation.

 

Group therapies have also been successful in both providing a support network to people with an addiction to technology and giving them the resources to recover on their own time. Some drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities may also provide care for people with non-drug related addictions. 

 

In addition to therapy, several programs have been developed to help cut down on Internet, social media and device usage. For example, there is a software that limits Internet use over the course of a day. Once the limit has been met, the connection shuts off until the following day. Similar software limits the usage of select social media websites, and there are even blocks to prevent access to the Internet and certain websites entirely for however long the user needs.

 

If there are other underlying mental health issues behind the addiction, like anxiety or depression, a therapist may prescribe medication to help deal with the effects. 

 

How to Prevent Tech Addiction

With the prominence of technology in modern day society, anyone could be susceptible to a technology addiction. Avoiding this issue is very possible, and it doesn’t require massive changes to a person’s everyday life.

 

Make it a rule to go out and do something every day. Even if it’s simply a nice walk, playing a game outdoors or relaxing with a book on the porch, substituting one hour a day for some fresh air outside can stave off the urge. If the weather isn’t accommodating, try cleaning a room in the house, spending quality time with a friend or family member or getting some other household chores done.

 

Don’t look to devices as a cure for boredom. Instead, take up a hobby, listen to some music or go to a movie.

 

Part of addiction is a rewards system. Just like drugs and alcohol trigger feelings such as euphoria, using the Internet and social media provide rewards through entertainment, a feeling of achievement through games or enjoying attention through likes on social media. Avoiding addiction through a similar rewards system is very beneficial. For example, for every hour not spent on social media during the day, put a dollar in a savings fund for something fun like a vacation or a new outfit.

 

It’s also a good idea to do everything to stop the rewards system of the addiction. For instance, turn off phone or desktop notifications for social media websites to reduce the constant feeling of rewards when the notification sounds.

 

The same limiting software that help with technology addiction recovery is also a great tool for preventing addiction in the first place. It’s not necessary to utilize software that automatically turns off devices, Internet connections or access to social media pages, but being cognizant of the usage and tracking it through these programs helps people understand when they might be developing a dependency. 

If there is a significant concern over developing a dependency on the Internet or social media, have a friend or family member help with monitoring usage. Not only does having a partner help prevent overusing technology, but they can be a great emotional support to help make it through the rough times and make the successes that much more gratifying. 

 

The WHO (World Health Organization) Officially Makes Video Gaming Disorder a Mental Health Classification.

The World Health Organization’s announcement to include gaming disorder a medical diagnosis.

Through the years, video games have gotten a bad rap. They are seen as a major distraction, with tech addiction affecting people of all ages and all genders. They have remained controversial through the years with their graphic topics covering violence and sexuality. And now, video games have taken the limelight globally for being recognized as an alarming disorder.

Last may 25, the World Health Organization, also known as WHO, voted to include gaming disorder as a form of behavioral addiction in its International Classification of Diseases. What many parents scream to their kids about how their video gaming addiction is terribly annoying and how tech addiction is ruining their lives have just now become officially and dangerously real. There are several parameters to receive this gaming disorder diagnosis:
A person needs to show 12 months of continuous symptoms
Gaming and screen addiction takes up many hours of the technological addict’s time
Prioritizing gaming over health, hygiene, work, and social relationships

Gaming Figures

This declaration by the WHO on gaming disorders comes at a time wherein the impact and clout of the gaming industry is at its peak. Last year alone, this video and online gaming industry made up to $44 billion in sales; making them even more popular than streaming services and movie theaters. In the United States alone, research indicated that 167 million citizens played some form of electronic game, with majority of those figures playing online.

Gaming has overtaken the place of older social media apps, leaving less time for those with a video gaming addiction to spend on FB, IG, or Snapchat. This diagnosis has, of course, alarmed parents across the globe because data indicates that 97 percent of teen boys and 83 percent of teen girls play games on some kind of device. Some form of digital detox or detoxification from excessive gadgetry is necessary.

Conflicting Community

The WHO’s voice is without a doubt one that is filled with authority and power. However, it must be noted that they are not the only word, nor the last word in the field of science. In fact, there are those up in arms over this diagnosis. Of course, the video game companies are not happy over this declaration. But even in the community of scientists, there is quite a split between supporting tech addition as the real deal or whether this is a gross exaggeration.

It is important to note that technology addiction doesn’t even appear on the bible of the psychiatric profession in the United States. The closest it comes to being mentioned in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is something called Internet Gaming Disorder. However, it not listed as an alarming condition that’s a cause for concern. The term was just mentioned briefly with notes that stating this disorder needs further study.

This lack of a medical sounding diagnosis is a vital one. This omission is important because it shapes therapists’ and doctors’ understanding of their patients and the tools they need in order to extend help. And more significant, it is harder to bill insurance providers without this official code in the official manual.

Still Alarming

There is no official term in the United States yet, but clinicians and researchers find screen addiction still ever so alarming. Patterns of behavior associated with excessive video games consumption continues to be a cause for concern, especially because the bulk of the people involved in doing it are children.

A doctor by the name of Douglas Gentile from Iowa State University admits to facing this video game addiction and excessive internet use concept with a lot of skepticism. But he that all the data and hard evidence are already staring everyone in the face but people struggle in accepting, facing, and handling the truth. The serious dysfunction this addiction affects includes multiple aspects of a person’s life and it is not imaginary but very real.

Points to Consider in Problematic Use

The advent of technology in this very advanced and fast paced world has exposed every single person to a device. Gadget use has been very prevalent that even young kids have to grapple with its consequences due to early and too much exposure. There are many adverse issues raised against excessive use of technology. Aside from just physically damaging the eyes due to the radiation emitted by the devices, the exposure to so much screen time can cause the brain to change. As mentioned above, there are printouts of brain images that show the actual effect of gadgets on the brain of real live subjects. As a result, these alarming changes in the brain are the ones that are feared to create the real physical dependency.

On top of that, overuse of gadgets, games, and media is seen as a bigger symptom of something deeper such as issues on depression, ADHD, or anxiety. In a study called A Parent Report Measure of Screen Media Addiction indicated that parents are alarmed by their children’s behavior. Taking away the gadgets only seem to make their children more rebellious. It also does not guarantee they will not have access to it in school or in other social settings. But what they do know is that excessive gadget consumption has the capacity to affect their kids’ health (staying up late nights make them prone to illnesses), impact the grades, affect time spent with family, and interfere with social relationships.

Proposed Treatment

Rather than just taking the gadgets away, which will cause more harm and drama than good, there must be harm reduction through digital detox. Taking the gadget away does not really eliminate the problem because these will always be present in the modern world. Confiscating the gadget is akin to throwing it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist. Instead discipline and healthy use of gadgets must be taught through mindful usage and controlled consumption.

Going cold turkey on video games may not be plausible because for the users it does provide them some measure of positivity such as entertainment, making them feel good, or helping them socialize with their online friends. However, there can be steps done to ensure that the temptation to keep on playing or using the device s kept at bay. For instance, keeping devices out of bedrooms is one way to ensure that these gamers get quality sleep. It is also important to make sure that young people attend school, make time for friends, and spend time outdoors.

Addiction is real, and although the numbers may not be that high in video games use, it doesn’t mean that it is not happening. That being said, branding someone as an addict is especially dangerous, especially for teens who are still in the difficult stage of conceptualizing their identities. What is more important is realizing that negative habits need correction and proper guidance must be given to correct these unpalatable types of behavior. The word addiction and disorder both drum up attention. They are controversial. Nowadays, where people can’t even leave the house without their mobile phones, controlled consumption has become harder and harder to do. But one thing is clear, no one needs an official doctor’s diagnosis to get people to put down their devices more often.

Learn More

Executives are Performing Better with “Digital Detox” Programs

If you’re feeling a Pavlovian effect when you get texts, emails, alerts, etc. and/or find yourself picking up your phone constantly anyway? – it’s time for digital detox.

You don’t have to sleep under your desk like Marissa Meyer and Elon Musk in order to need digital detox. Look for signs like being distracted by technology to the point that you can’t focus, your creativity is stifled, and you have trouble making decisions.

Carrying on the old 90’s tradition of always being online, is pase. This sends the message to the rest of the company that if their not online then they’re slacking. The old online all the time mentality is counterproductive. Afterall, the point of technology is to improve our lives not make our lives worse.

Cellphones, tech gadgets, and computers are awesome and most everyone loves them because they offer so many benefits. However, if not handled properly with a digital health mindset, we can get paint ourselves into a corner. We’re constantly force fed information all day everyday. We get worn down to the point where we no longer have the stamina, snap and intellectual horsepower to keep up the tempo.

As an Executive with your cellphone in hand, when speaking to employees do you think they feel you’re paying attention, are appreciated and are being understood? What about strategizing in the boardroom with your team, partners, customers, and/or investors. What would be going through their minds after that meeting, was it productive, goals accomplished, decisions made properly?

Regularly scheduled digital detox programs will benefit your health, your company, and all of those around you.

 

Initially letting go of your smartphone is unnerving for most people. Usually before long we become more creative and productive. Detox clients sometimes step back and strategize on what phone activities have a positive return and which activities have a negative return. Then create a plan and decide how to execute.

Therapy and Activities that Help:

Nature immersion and adventure therapy are just a couple of ways that will help defuse the digital addiction. Some activities may include, snorkeling, hiking, horseback riding, indoor rock climbing, meditation, Yoga, paddle boarding, zip-lining, etc.

We have programs at Maui Recovery and Omega Recovery in Austin, TX.

 

How Video Gaming Addiction Can Harm Your Marriage

It’s no secret that drug addiction, alcoholism, and even social media addiction are among the leading causes of divorces today. However, there’s a relatively new form of addiction that has begun rearing its ugly head and is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of failed marriages; video gaming addiction.

This form of tech addiction has a profound impact on the real lives of the gamers who spend their time immersed in virtual worlds. A good illustration of the consequences of screen addiction is the wildly popular and highly addictive video game known as Fortnite. 

Fortnite took the world by storm in late 2017 and currently has 125 million players. If Fortnite was a country, it would be the 11th most populous nation in the world. This just goes to show how enthralling the game is. 

Unfortunately, it is causing problems in marriages. In fact, a popular divorce assistance website in the U.K revealed that  over 200 divorce petitions filed recently cited Fortnite specifically as being one of the reasons they wanted the divorce. 

Why are Video Games Causing Disruptions in Marriages? 

More and more people today turn to the internet when looking for an escape from the stresses of daily living. Much like how some people turn to drugs. The internet is abound with endless amusement, communication, and information. Another thing that the internet is widely utilized for is video gaming. 

Since their inception in the 1970s in arcades, video games have influenced social dynamics in the way people communicate and build relationships. Online gaming has taken this a step further as it allows you to play with or against someone thousands of miles away while seated on your couch.

In spite of its good intentions, that convenience is causing problems in marriages since the interactive nature of the game causes the player to be so dedicated to their online character and building virtual relationships with other gamers across the planet that they forget about the person they are sharing a house with. 

2016 study done on the sales, usage and demographic data of the video game industry revealed that over 60 percent of American homes have at least one individual that regularly plays video games. Moreover, over 50 percent of the people who are frequent gamers admit to utilizing the social aspect of gaming. 

And because the average age of a gamer is 35 and the average age of marriage is 25.8 for women and 28.3 for men, it is safe to presume that a lot of young marriages have some kind of video game in their homes. 

Another study found out that 75% of gamers’ spouses said that they wished that their significant other would stop putting so much of their energy into video games and put more effort into the marriage. 

Immersive Video Games 

There is a specific genre of video games known as online role-playing games. Examples of games in this genre include League Legends, Dungeons and Dragons, Everquest, and World of Warcraft. 

This genre is immersive as it requires the gamer to devote copious amounts of time developing their virtual character inside the game. Perhaps, it is because they allow the gamer to develop the ideal character that they wish they were in real life. To the gamer, especially one looking for an escape, doing this is much easier than putting in actual effort to improve themselves in the real world. 

Nonetheless, this virtual character development takes so much dedication that the gamers’ outside interests and relationships are often left in ruins. 

The other genre of video games that has cultivated a cult-like following is the first person shooter games. A popular example of such a game is Call of Duty which is a battle simulation where online gamers can face off against each other. The game is further intensified because the gamers wear headsets so they can communicate with each other as they do battle. As you can expect, the language used during such situations can be quite colorful, and the game is likely to start using such language in their dialogue in the real world. 

What’s more, violent video games have been shown to increase the actual aggression of the gamer. When you combine a lack of time for their loved one(s), curse words, and heightened aggression, the concoction that follows is one that has all the hallmarks of an abusive relationship, even without actual violence being involved.

The Risk of Addiction 

As we have noted, the immersive nature of online video games is the reason why gamers are unable to tend to the psychological, and sometimes physical, needs of their significant other. 

In fact, a study on the reasons for divorce found that of the spouses who cite unreasonable behavior as being the catalyst behind their need to end the marriage, 15 percent of them believed that their spouses put gaming before them and the relationship. 

Their need to constantly be gaming creates an impulse control problem, thereby leading to a video gaming addiction. 

Falling under the same category as screen addiction and tech addiction, video game addiction refers to an impulse control disorder that is characterized by the excessive and compulsive overuse of video games. People who suffer from this addiction will utilize the online gaming platform to connect with real people via the internet, as a substitute for real-life human connection. 

The following are some of the signs that your partner is addicted to video games: 

 They would rather be gaming than attend to you, themselves or their job. 

 They will play late into the night and are often sacrificing their sleep. Sex and nighttime conversations are often out of the question. 

 They do not want to discuss their mood or feelings. 

 They refuse to admit that there is a problem. 

 They refuse to reduce their gaming time. 

 They often forget about their commitments. 

 They consistently break their promise to spend more time with you. 

 They lash at you for ‘not understanding’ whenever you bring up the issue of their gaming compulsion. 

 They won’t consider therapy for their gaming obsession. 

Research done on the topic reveals that, at times, it is not the time spent gaming that causes problems in the marriage, but rather, it is the resulting arguments that accompany when the other spouse complains. 

Moreover, compulsive gaming causes issues such as poor marital adjustment that comes from not doing things together or having serious conversations. The result is that the bond that they had starts to weaken and eventually reaches a point where the marriage becomes insufferable. At this point, divorce is usually the only option left. 

Mental Health Problem 

Recently, the World Health Organization recognized and included video game addiction as a legitimate mental health problem. Fortnite, in particular, is one of the most cited games that have led to the addiction, affecting players of all ages, and even forcing some into rehab. Just as with any other kind of dependency, video game addiction strains a marriage in that one partner does not care about the needs of the other.

Admittedly, one can understand the allure of video games. Today’s video games, in particular, are designed to reel in the player and hook them. That is how some people get addicted. For others, they might already be having an underlying problem leading them to seek out video games and other technological distractions to feel the void inside without having to turn to something that might damage their health such as drugs. Nonetheless, an addiction is an addiction, and it will have a negative impact on your life. 

If you feel that your gaming tendencies are straining your relationship, seeking help to overcome the dependency should be your first course of action. At our Recovery Center, we help gaming addicts get control of their dependency, so they are able to get their priorities in order. Our experts will help you or your loved one through a holistic approach that not only treats the addiction but addresses the triggers so that they cannot relapse. Contact us today; we are waiting to help.

 

 

 

The connection between drug use, video games, deadly weapons and school shootings.

In the wake of school shootings by teenagers, everyone is running back and forth trying to find a possible cause to these monstrosities. Why would a ‘normal’ kid suddenly go berserk and try to end the lives of their teachers and peers?

 

While each case is different due to the various variables that could have triggered each shooter, there are things that most of them have in common and which are worth investigating. Is there a link between video games, drug abuse, and the availability of violent weapons such as guns and the shootings? This article will discuss that connection.

 

The Connection between Video Games and School Shootings

Most high school going kids are more than likely active gamers. And while video games have been shown to significantly improve visual-spatial skills, there can be too much of a good thing. Video games, especially modern ones that are mission-centered, are designed to hook the individual for hours on end. Additionally, there are so many levels or layers to a game that it might take weeks or months for one to complete just one game. And with the thousands of games available, the individual is more than likely going to have a lot on their hands. This constant playing is likely to result in a condition known as video gaming addiction.

 

In fact, the World Health Organization recently added ‘gaming disorder’ to its list of mental health conditions.

 

Gaming disorder can be used synonymously with video gaming addiction and refers to the condition where an individual loses control over their gaming habits, and they start prioritizing gaming over other interests.

 

But what does this have to do with shootings?

 

While some people play video games for purely recreational purposes, others use gaming as a coping mechanism for their stress and anxiety. As such, understanding the motivation behind the gaming is key to identifying the cause of their disorder. A study found that using gaming as a coping mechanism for stress resulted in even higher levels of stress.

 

To understand how video games are a contributory factor towards school shootings, let us look at the link between mental illnesses and school shootings.

 

The Connection between Mental Illness and School Shootings

According to the book, Gun Violence and Mental Illness, individuals who commit mass shootings are known to plan well in advance. They usually bottle up extreme feelings of anger and revenge. And because they are typically socially isolated, they tend to act alone most of the time.

 

The book further notes that there are common traits among the shooters in addition to historical factors that contribute to the massacres. In fact, a case study done on five murderers revealed that, during childhood, they began seeing people as uncaring and rejecting.

 

All subjects had been isolated or bullied during their childhoods, and they inevitably became loners who despaired over their social alienation. These led to paranoid tendencies such as grudge holding and suspiciousness.

 

Consequently, they spent a significant amount of time harboring feelings of resentment as they ruminated on past humiliations. This constant rumination eventually evolved into fantasies of violent revenge.

 

All the above are indicators of an underlying mental illness caused by the constant stress and anxiety felt by these individuals.

 

Coping Using Video Games

As a result of their social alienation, school shooters use video games as a means of coping. And they will spend hours on end playing these games. The American Psychological Association conducted a review of research and found out that individuals who play violent video games were more likely to engage in aggressive behavior.

 

If video games can foster violent behavior in mentally stable individuals, think about the impact they have on kids harboring violent revenge fantasies.

 

In addition to increasing an individual’s levels of aggression, violent video games have been found to desensitize gamers to violence. As a result, they have a lower value for human life. Consequently, the gamer’s lost empathy makes them more likely to take human life without the feelings of remorse that would affect a ‘normal’ person.

 

Drug Abuse and School Shootings

One of the more prominent mental health watchdogs, CCHR (the Citizens Commission on Human Rights), has been investigating school shootings since the Columbine High School incidence in 1999. The body’s investigation into school shootings reveals that at least 36 school shootings have been orchestrated by individuals using or withdrawing from the use of psychotropic drugs resulting in 80 fatalities and over 170 wounded.

 

Psychiatric drugs are typically prescribed to individuals with mental health problems to help them cope with stress or anxiety. Individuals might eventually end up developing a dependency on these drugs. Consequently, they start abusing the drugs, and drug addiction follows.

 

When the drug addiction becomes a real problem, withdrawing is usually the next logical step. However, a 2012 study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics revealed that withdrawing from psychotropic drugs can lead to violent and aggressive behavior.

 

Video Games, Mental Illness, and Drug Abuse

Most school shooters usually have an underlying form of mental illness. Even though the specifics may vary among shooters, most of them, however; have been found to have had a troubling childhood. Often bullied or isolated, these individuals become loners who use video games as a coping mechanism. All while fantasizing on violent revenge.

Video games, on the other hand, have been found to increase the levels of aggression in the gamer while desensitizing them to violence. This results in reduced empathy which makes the person more likely to commit a shooting.

 

Psychotropic drugs are used to help individuals with mental illnesses to better cope with their stress and anxiety. And due to the high levels of stress these individuals have to cope with daily, they are more than likely going to get addicted to the drugs, whose withdrawal increases their aggression further.

 

It does not help that guns can be easily found in American households. In fact, an analysis of 145 school shootings committed since 1999 revealed that 80 percent of the guns were taken from the shooter’s home or that of their relatives. And if those weapons were not so easily accessible, over two-thirds of the shootings would never have happened.

 

The bottom line is, when you combine mental illness, drug abuse, video games, and weapons, the likelihood of a school shooting is greatly increased. To prevent this from happening, it is important that you get to know your child better. Look out for signs of stress, anxiety, and depression. Next, take them to a recovery center that takes a holistic approach to mental health treatment rather than just prescribing drugs to the child. Doing this might just prevent yet another shooting.