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Video Game Addiction: Treatment, Symptoms & Statistics

Instructor: Sharon Linde
People can become addicted to substances such as alcohol or drugs as well gambling and playing video games. What is video game addiction and how prevalent is it? This lesson outlines video game addiction's treatment, symptoms, and statistics.

Can People be Addicted to Video Games?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has listed Internet Gaming Disorder as a 'condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion in the main book as a formal disorder.' In other words, it is not yet considered a full disorder by the APA, but it is moving in that direction - it just needs more evidence.

Consider the case of Mary. She thinks her husband Martin may have a video game addiction. So she asks her doctor for help diagnosing Martin's game usage. The first place he points her to is a list of symptoms for video game addiction.

Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

What are the signs of video game addiction? Mary's doctor points her to the APA's listing of nine different signs for Internet Gaming Disorder:

  • Thinking about video games when participating in other activities
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not able to play
  • Playing for increasing amounts of time
  • Inability to reduce or stop playing
  • Giving up or reducing other activities because of the amount of time spent playing games
  • Playing even though doing so creates problems with school, work, or general mood
  • Lying to friends and family about how much time is spent playing games
  • Gaming to feel better or escape from real-life problems
  • Deteriorating relationships with friends or family members

Mary notes that the amount of time spent playing in itself does not always indicate an addiction. However, an addiction may be present if someone is increasing their playing time to get the same amount of excitement as before.

Statistics for Video Game Addiction

Mary's doctor also tells her that many psychiatrists think enough evidence exists to consider video game addiction a problem. For example, according to Dr. Maressa Orzack of McLean Hospital in Newton, MA, video game addiction can be just as addictive as using drugs, alcohol, and gambling. She estimates that roughly 40 percent of the players of World of Warcraft are addicted. Considering that this internet game had over 5 million subscribers in 2015 and at one point had 12 million, this is a staggering number.

Douglas Gentile, a researcher from Iowa State University, conducted a study looking at video game addiction. He found 8.5 percent of video gamers in the United States aged 8-18 exhibit more than one sign of behavioral addiction.

Mary sees signs of her husband in this information and believes he has a real problem. How can she get him the help he needs?

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