In June 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) first recognised gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.
For a formal diagnosis, WHO states someone must be experiencing symptoms "of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning."
How much is too much?
Interpretations of 'significant impairment' can of course vary, so how can we tell if children have a problem with gaming addiction, or are simply enjoying it as part of a wider range of hobbies. In other words, how much is too much? Whilst this will vary from child to child, there are some behaviours that may indicate a more serious issue.
Specifically, a child will be experiencing five or more of the following over at least a 12 month period:
- A persistent fixation with gaming.
- A need to spend increasing amounts of time gaming to satisfy the urge.
- Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away/not possible, eg low mood and irritability.
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming.
- Unsuccessful attempts to quit or reduce gaming.
- Misleading others about the amount of time spent gaming.
- Using gaming to alleviate negative mood or feelings of hopelessness.
- Gaming to an extent that a loss of relationship or job becomes a real possibility.
- Continuing to game despite known issues.
Therapy can help
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help counter gaming addiction disorders by supporting young people to modify their behaviour through positive and negative reinforcement. In other words, helping them to become aware of the pattern of their behaviour and the self-beliefs they hold as a catalyst for compulsive and harmful behaviours.
If you are concerned about the amount of time your child spends gaming, and the impact it has on their wellbeing, please get in touch, I can help.