Is My Child Addicted to Gaming?

Internet gaming addiction and problem digital gaming are real and common. How does a parent know if there is a problem?

These characteristics suggest that a person may have an issue that needs to be addressed:

--Preoccupation or obsession with Internet gaming, e.g., always thinking about the next gaming experience.
--Withdrawal symptoms when not able to play or when prevented from playing Internet games, e.g., irritability or sadness.
--Needing to spend increased amounts of time playing Internet games, e.g., increasing tolerance.
--Trying, but failing, to stop or decrease Internet gaming time.
--Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activites except Internet gaming.
--Continued Internet gaming in the face of/despite knowledge of adverse impacts, e.g., bad grades,
poor relationships, job loss.
--Lying about Internet gaming time and activities.
--Internet gaming providing escape from negative moods e.g., anxiety, depression, helplessness.
--Internet gaming jeopardizing or causing loss of a personal relationship, school, job.

Advice for parents from Dr. Kimberly Young, an expert on Internet addition and digital treatment:

--Educate children on responsible Internet use and gaming.
--Examine honestly the impact of this potential addiction on the family.
--Identify risk factors, e.g., childhood mental health disorders, other addictions in the family, and address those.
--Encourage other activities.
--Learn warning signs of addiction. (See above.)
                                                                                                                                        Source: Contemporary Pediatrics, November, 2015

Making a Family Media Use Plan is a healthy place to start working at these issues. Your pediatrician can help connect you with other resources. Don't be afraid to reach out. Many families face this challenge!