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Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Signs

By Dr. Brent Conrad
Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction


TechAddiction is often asked by clients, parents, teachers, and reporters about video game addiction symptoms and signs.

First, a disclaimer:

Video game addiction, just like Internet Addiction, is not an official DSM-IV diagnosis, and in 2007 the American Medical Association rejected a proposal to classify video game addiction as a mental disorder. This was the correct decision, as well conducted research with proper methodology has really only surfaced within the last few years. The development of new gaming and online technologies as well as the corresponding psychological impacts have clearly outpaced the research on these issues.

Will a future version of DSM include video game addiction symptoms? This is a definite possibility. However, in contrast to "pop" psychology, officially recognized providers of psychological services (e.g., psychologists & psychiatrists) and the American Psychiatric Association take a more conservative and methodical approach when considering the official additions of new disorders. Again, this is the proper way to proceed.

So, as you read through the video game addiction symptoms and signs below, keep in mind that (for now) there is no officially recognized disorder known as video game addiction and no definitive set of video game addiction symptoms. The symptoms below are based on working definitions of video game addictions proposed by TechAddiction and others, research in the field of video game addiction, what we already know about other addictions (such as compulsive gambling), and personal work with clients with excessive gaming habits.

Finally, note that no one will display all of these signs of video game addiction. But obviously, a greater number of signs, more frequent occurrences, and more intense presentations would be more indicative of problematic video game habits.

With that out of the way, what are the symptoms of video game addiction?

VIDEO: The Signs of Video Game Addiction



Signs of Video Game Addiction


Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Signs -
Psychological Symptoms

  • Lowered interest in school achievement


  • Feelings of anger and frustration when not allowed access to the video game


  • Feeling depressed or anxious when not playing the game (especially for a prolonged period)


  • Thinking about the next gaming session when not online


  • Dreaming about the game


  • Experiencing calmness, peacefulness, or euphoria while playing (especially if these emotions are not experienced otherwise)


  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities


  • Downplaying the impact of the excessive habits ("It's not as bad as alcohol addiction")


  • Justifying excessive use ("Others play more than I do")


  • Excessive frustration or anxiety when "the server is down"


  • Distorted perception of time (e.g., suddenly realizing that several hours have passed in what seemed like just one hour)


  • Feelings of guilt when unable to join clan or guild members on a quest


  • Difficulty abstaining from video games for more than a few days


  • Experiencing a loss of personal control while playing


  • Feelings of guilt or regret after spending much more time than intended with the game



Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Signs -
Physical Symptoms

  • Sleep difficulties or significant change in sleep patterns


  • Decreased personal hygiene


  • Poor or irregular eating habits (e.g., waiting until extremely hungry before eating)


  • Headaches


  • Dry or red eyes


  • Sore fingers, neck, or back


  • Poor physical health or weight gain


  • Carpal tunnel syndrome



Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Signs -
Behavioral Symptoms


  • Less time spent on homework and studying


  • Decreased work performance


  • Aggression towards those who prevent or attempt to limit access to the video game


  • Frequently playing the game while neglecting important responsibilities


  • Spending more and more time with the video game


  • Playing at the first available opportunity (e.g., as soon as getting home from work or school)


  • An inability to quit despite attempts to do so


  • Saying up late into the night to play


  • Eating meals while playing or skipping meals entirely


  • When not playing, discussing the video game in online forums


  • Large amounts of money spent on new games, expansion packs, micro-transactions, and computer upgrades


  • Occasional gaming "binges" of 10 or more hours nonstop



Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Signs -
Relational Symptoms

  • Lying to others about how much time is spent with the game


  • Declining social invitations so that game playing can continue


  • Less time spent with family and friends


  • Increased concern expressed by others at the amount of gaming time


  • A loss of real world friends, but an increase in virtual world friends


  • Blaming others ("I would probably play less if you wouldn't nag so much")



  • Decreased interest in sex

 
 

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COMMENTS

Do you agree with these signs? What others would you add?


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