In many of the settings I've worked in, from my position as a school-based therapist to working in an adolescent residential treatment center, I see increasing number of teens whose parents are alarmed by the amount of time they spend playing video games. I am often asked if their child is addicted to gaming.
Video game addiction is not yet in the DSM so no formal diagnosis can be given. However future editions could incorporate it to allow clinicians to consider this an identifier. Until then, it remains a concern to parents and care-givers, and is definitely worthy of talking about with a therapist.
In recent surveys, we have seen as many as 97% of youth who play video games which accounts for some 64million kids in the USA. Alarmingly, the age bracket showing the largest signs of increase is 2-5 year old range. And in one informal survey of 3,300 kids, it was estimated that 9% of the youth were deemed 'addicted'.
Symptoms of Video Game Addiction.
Without a formally agreed upon definition of video game addiction, it's hard to say definitively, however I might look for signs such as:
Irrritability, depression, moodiness and restlessness when asked to stop, or attempting to cut down usage.
Losing track of time when playing - often teens have the best intentions of only playing for an hour, but get lost in the game.
Preoccupation with the game - it's all they talk about with you or friends.
Using the games in increasingly longer amounts of time.
Lies and stories to cover up amount of time playing or avoiding commitments.
If you are concerned about your child or teen feel free to connect with me to discuss matters more.
"Virtual Addiction" David N. Greenfield, Ph.D., "Caught in the Net" Dr. Kimberly Young, Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, American Psychiatric Association, Online Gamers Anonymous ( http://www.olganon.org),
Gentile, D.A. (2009). Pathological video game use among youth 8 to 18: a national study. Psychological Science, 20, 594-602.
Teen therapy, Oliver Drakeford. Video Game Addiction. Adolescent Therapy. Group therapy.