For many teens, video games are a means to escape “the real world” and zone out for a while into something fun, exciting and totally unlike their real life. However, when they do this for hours upon hours every day, this innocent activity can turn into something dangerous – an addiction.
The Dangers of Video Game Addiction
A nation-wide survey, of 1,178 children ages eight to 18, found that one in 12 teens are addicted to video games. If you think that number sounds a little low, the fact is there are about 1 million more video game addicts than cocaine addicts.
According to the DSM-5, an addiction to video games has the same effect as an addiction to drugs. Video games stimulate the same neural pathways triggered by drugs in drug addicts. This means, video game addicts experience similar side effects as drug addicts, such as feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, as well as a withdrawal that comes from not getting the fix they need.
Video Game Addiction in the Media
Some of the worst addiction horror stories come from the misfortunes of past video game addicts. In 2001, Wisconsin teen Shawn Woolley shot himself after becoming addicted to the video game, EverQuest. When 13-year-old Zhang Xiaoyi took his own life in 2004, the Chinese teen said it was because he wanted to “join the heroes of the game he worshipped.” That game was the video game “World of Warcraft.” Xiaoyi had played the game for 36 hours straight before jumping off of a tall building.
Although these stories are the most extreme cases of video game addiction, they help us see this addiction as a serious issue.
Does your teen have a video game addiction?
If your teen is addicted to video games, he or she might become distant from family and friends. There might be a constant preoccupation with the game or game console even when they are away from it. Addicts are unable to keep track of how much time is spent in front of a video game, and can spend excessive amounts of time in front of a video game without noticing the time go by. Additionally, your teen might stop caring about school and other activities they previously loved.
Studies have shown that video game addiction can cause depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. All of these conditions can be extremely harmful to a teens’ day-to-day life.
Unlike other addicts, video game addicts can’t just cut video games completely out of their lives. Let’s face it, video games are unavoidable in this day and age. Instead, teens addicted to video games can learn to control the amount of time spent video games or avoid playing them altogether.
Wilderness therapy is a great recovery option for teens addicted to video games. blueFire Wilderness Therapy provides the treatment necessary to overcome teen addiction, while using natural challenges to develop increased self-esteem and happiness in the individual.
For more information about video game addiction or our wilderness therapy program, call a staff member at 844-413-1999.