Our philosophy, goals, and commonly asked questions -
Who started TechAddiction?
The TechAddiction Information and Treatment Service was created in 2005 by clinical psychologist Dr. Brent Conrad -
Why was TechAddiction created?
While working in various community, government, and private organizations I started to notice an increase in the number of clients presenting with difficulties related to excessive internet and video game use -
Unfortunately, I soon discovered that treatment options for those whose lives were negatively impacted by excessive online or gaming habits or internet addiction were very limited (and in most cases, non-
Initial research on the issue of video game and internet addiction generally found two polarized camps. On one side were those who condemn gaming as "worthless", "pointless", "extremely addictive" and responsible for any number of societal problems (school shootings as just one example). On the other side were those who stated that it is impossible to be addicted to a game (or online experience) and that this is just an attempt to pathologize harmless and normal activities.
As is often the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes. However, the psychological / psychiatric communities seemed to be relatively quiet on this issue -
What are the goals of TechAddiction?
TechAddiction has several primary goals:
1) To provide useful, professional, and nonbiased information on the issue of excessive video game and internet use.
The TechAddiction philosophy is that for the vast majority of users, video games and the internet are enjoyable activities that can be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Most people can and do play video games responsibly. For example, similar to going to a movie, video games can be an enjoyable temporary getaway from "real life". As such, research and surveys about the potential benefits of moderate play / use will not be suppressed.
However, it is also believed that for some people, the virtual world becomes more important than the real world -
2) To provide useful recovery resources and information for those who are unable to find or afford local treatment services. This includes the downloadable Computer, Internet and Video Game Addiction Treatment Workbook, How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games, the TechAddiction Support Forum, the Tip of the Month, and links to other reputable sources for information and recovery.
3) To provide professional one-
4) To provide education and consultation to those who work with internet and video game addictions. For example, on the topic of video game addiction Dr. Conrad has served as a consultant to Kids Help Phone (a free phone counselling service for children).
What is TechAddiction's view on the role of parents and the video game / online habits of children?
1) Ultimately, parents (not the game industry) have to be responsible for making sure that their children have healthy gaming and online habits. Children and teens cannot be expected to set reasonable limits for themselves.
2) Online and gaming time should occur only after other responsibilities have been attended to (e.g., homework, chores).
3) For most children, gaming and recreational computer use should be limited to one or two hours per day (max) during the school year.
4) Parents should be very knowledgeable of ESRB ratings and should always have final approval of game purchases.
5) Before any game purchase, parents should research the game. Dozens of "traditional" reviews for almost any game are available at websites such as MetaCritic, and family-
6) Whenever possible, parents should play the game with their child. Not only can this be a positive bonding experience, it also allows for a much better assessment of the actual content and potential for excessive use.
7) Video games and computers should not be used as babysitters.
8) Many games have parental control settings to adjust content and set limits for gaming time. Become familiar with these settings and use them.
9) Computers and game consoles should be in open family rooms -
10) Gaming and recreational computer use can be seen as a privilege for responsible behavior, not a natural right.
11) MMORPGs, regardless of the ESRB rating, should probably not be purchased for children. If you are a parent with a child who plays video games, I suggest avoiding this genre altogether -
12) If you have the resources to do so, keep one computer just for work/homework (i.e., no game installed, blocked access to social network sites, blocked access to gaming and entertainment sites, etc.), and one computer for recreational use. When your child is at the "work" computer you can now be more confident that his/her time is actually being used for this purpose.
13) Set administrator privileges for all household computers. Parents can then decide which applications can be installed, which sites can be visited, and which games can be played. Try to be as tech-
Does TechAddiction follow an "abstinence" or "moderation" model of treatment and recovery?
In almost all cases, healthy moderation of use is the goal. Notable exceptions include online pornography addiction, online gambling, and "hardcore" MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. In these cases working towards abstinence is generally considered to be best practice.
Does TechAddiction believe that video game addiction and the internet addiction are "true" addictions?
Officially, the DSM-
Today, things have changed considerably in the world of home technology and entertainment. Computers and internet access are almost considered a necessity, many families have multiple PCs, broadband internet is now the standard, 68% of households play video games, and virtually all children play video games. To say that the potential for video game addiction and internet addiction is greater today than in 1994 is an understatement to say the least.
TechAddiction believes that excessive video game and internet use will be mentioned in the next version of the DSM, but that they will not obtain official diagnostic status until DSM-
Stated clearly, TechAddiction (somewhat ironically) does not believe that excessive video game and internet use should be considered official disorders…yet. More research is necessary before these diagnoses become official.
However, TechAddiction absolutely believes for some people, excessive video game and online habits can result in unwanted behaviors, symptoms, and significantly impaired functioning in multiple settings (work, school, interpersonal) -
Is video game addiction as "serious" as alcohol or drug addiction?
Even if video game and internet addictions are one day classified as official disorders, the short answer (at least in the view of TechAddiction), is "No."
However, just because one addiction is not as destructive as another, does not mean that it ceases to be a problem.
Most people probably view alcohol addiction as more damaging overall than gambling addiction. Nevertheless, gambling addiction can be a very serious problem and can lead to lost relationships, careers, and of course, significant financial difficulties. In this sense, the negative impact of excessive video game and internet use is probably more similar to gambling addition than to drug or alcohol addiction.
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