Avera Medical Minute: Video Game Addiction

Child playing video games

Video Game addiction is on the rise and a specific segment of the population is being identified as being at a higher risk.

Whether it's on a phone, console, computer, or online, gaming can cross the line from entertaining to all-consuming, drawing the player into wanting more. The American Psychological Association is echoing the concerns of some parents, indicating internet abuse and gaming addiction is an area needing further clinical study.

Dr. Wallace Jackmon of Sioux Falls is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Avera Behavioral health and he's familiar with the warning signs of video game addiction. "If it is interfering with their family, with their work, with their relationships, with their self-esteem, their sleep, their mood, anxiety depression, then they should certainly reach out and get some interventions," said Jackmon.

Recent studies indicate there's a certain demographic that can struggle with video game addiction more than others. "typical age range from 12 to 20-year-old males, in a higher risk group," Jackmon explained.

What is the allure of gaming? Part of it can be tied to online gaming with others, feeling part of a team."it is a way of escape or avoid, they could even be social avoidant individuals, so their confidence, self-esteem may be boosted by being online, versus having to have person to person contact," said Jackmon.

Gaming addiction can affect players in other areas of life, Jackmon says some are lacking the skills to engage in face to face contacts. If gaming is causing problems in the reality portion of life, it's time to reach out for help.

Avera Family Life Educator Patricia Bates says there are steps to help regulate time online. "I think it's a good idea to set dinner time as a screen-free time, or if you're going for a bike ride making sure that's a no technology time"

Setting online boundaries at bedtime will help too. "The blue light and the pinging can really interfere with sleep, so even as your children are becoming teenagers it's important to keep those devices out of the bedroom," offered Bates.

As a parent, regulating your own screen time can help, setting an example for your children. An indicator you're spending too much time online can be traced back to the number or apps you use. Jackmon says actively using 6 or more apps daily could mean it's time to cut back on your time, online.