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The internet is a wonderful tool and a great source of
entertainment, relaxation and fun for many people. Kids, adults and seniors are
finding new ways to play their favorite card, board and role play games online
with people from all over the world. While internet gaming itself is not bad
there are increased concerns by mental health professionals that some people
are becoming addicted to online gaming.
Online gaming addiction, sometimes referred to as video game
addiction, can be used as an escape from the stress in the world around people.
This is particularly true with role playing games where the player develops an
alternate persona within the game. They identify strongly with that character
and often attribute characteristics to that animated being that they feel are
deficient or absent in their life. Over time the need to feel the positive
attributes of the game character can create changes in the brain that are
similar to other types of psychological addictions such as gambling, shopping
or viewing pornography.
Understanding the symptoms of internet gaming addition is
the first step in seeking help through addiction counseling services. The major
symptoms noted with this addiction include:
- Spending excessive amounts of time online in the
game while neglecting real relationships, commitments and requirements in daily
- Discussion about the game or the role play
characters as if they were real individuals or actual events that occurred in
the person’s life.
- Sleep deprivation and poor eating patterns,
often spending hours to days on the computer without sleeping or eating.
- Missing work or school to stay home and play
- Misrepresenting time spend playing online or
hiding the activity.
- Withdrawal from previously valued or enjoyed
social activities and regular interactions with friends and family.
- Headaches, eye problems and back or joint
problems due to long periods at a computer without exercise, breaks, sleep or
If these symptoms are noted in a family member, friend or
loved one seeking support for that person with an addiction recovery therapist
is essential. Failing to get help will only increase the probability that this
behavior will cause serious consequences in the individual’s life.