The evolution of technology has gifted us with numerous innovative forms of entertainment, and one such medium that has gained immense popularity is video gaming. While gaming can be a source of fun, relaxation, and even social connection, it can also become a double-edged sword when indulged in excessively.

Gaming addiction interferes with various aspects of an individual’s life, characterized by a loss of control over gaming habits, neglect of personal and social responsibilities, and the continuation of gaming despite negative consequences. But addiction is the symptom and not the core issue. It’s important to understand that a compulsion to game, to the detriment of one’s well-being, is a sign that there’s a deeper emotional issue driving this behaviour.

Parents can feel a sense of frustration, helplessness, and exhaustion attempting to control and stop their child’s ongoing unhealthy gaming habits. When a child’s brain becomes so fixated on their need to game, their behaviour can become erratic, hostile, and in some cases, suicidal. Outside help is often necessary to support families.

Video gaming addiction is a complex psychological issue that requires professional evaluation. Seeking help from mental health professionals, such as a psychologist, addiction counselor and/or coach can provide an accurate diagnosis or, at least, the resources to get an assessment and diagnosis. Having a complete picture helps families understand the underlying factors contributing to the addiction. These experienced professionals possess the expertise to differentiate between casual gaming and problematic behaviour, ensuring an effective course of action and strategies.

When initially intaking an assessment of a family and their addicted child, my goal, as a family coach, is to find the core issue of why video games are being used to either cope or escape from uncomfortable feelings.

Is the child struggling emotionally with school, their social life, a trauma, a mental health disorder, and/or family problems?

Is the child feeling a lack of success in any areas of their life that has gravitated them towards the quick and easy rewards of playing online games where they experience a sense of immense success?

Or both?

Every individual struggling with video gaming addiction has unique circumstances, motivations, and challenges. Professional help ensures that treatment plans are tailored to address these specific needs.

Gaming addiction can often be accompanied by underlying mental health issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, neurodiversity, and/or social isolation. Mental health professionals can address these co-occurring disorders, which may be contributing to the addictive behaviour. By providing comprehensive care, these specialists ensure that individuals receive the necessary support for their overall health and well-being. Coaches often recommend a therapist be added to the care team, and can work alongside, ensuring everyone is on board with a consistent treatment plan. By providing comprehensive care, they ensure that individuals receive the necessary support.

Building  and adding a robust support system with family and friends can also make a significant difference in overcoming gaming addiction. Loved ones can provide encouragement, understanding, and accountability. 

Often families experience a feeling of shame around addiction, but by openly discussing concerns, family and friends can engage the gamer in alternative activities that may help them to regain a sense of balance and healthy relationships outside of gaming.

Also, joining support groups or online communities specifically designed for gaming addiction can offer a sense of belonging and shared experiences. These platforms provide a safe space for individuals to connect with others who understand their struggles, share coping strategies, and offer mutual support.

In addition to individual therapy, seeking group therapy or specialized gaming addiction programs such as digital detox camps or rehabilitation centres can provide an extra layer of support. These structured environments offer guidance from experts, a sense of understanding among peers, and opportunities to learn from others who have successfully overcome gaming addiction.

Video gaming addiction can have severe consequences on various aspects of an individual’s life, including mental health, relationships, and personal health. Recognizing the signs of addiction and understanding the importance of seeking professional help and support systems are crucial steps towards recovery. 

With the guidance of experts and the support of loved ones and like-minded individuals, it is possible to reclaim control over gaming habits, restore balance, and foster a healthier relationship with technology and gaming. 

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and there is hope for a brighter, more balanced future.