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Gaming Addiction

Too much of anything is a bad thing, but we all have our guilty habits! When it comes to gaming, being addicted and having fun are two different things. It is important to be aware of when kids begin to form an addiction to gaming rather than a healthy habit.

Addiction vs enjoyment. Is there a difference? Before we investigate the signs of addiction vs enjoyment, I want to first show you what I believe a possible healthy habit of gaming can be that might surprise you.


When I was practising fulltime as a lawyer, I would work 40+ hours a week. Almost every weekday after work, I would come home and game for about 2-4 hours. I found this incredibly therapeutic as it would have my mind distracted from work but in the background be processing any problems I was still thinking about from my day. I would often find during a game I would subconsciously figure out a problem I had from work that day and when there was a break in the game, I would write it down. On the weekends it was even more game time! Sometimes I would game for 5+ hours. But you know what else I would do on the weekends and weekday nights... a lot! I would go to dancing classes, boxing classes, go hiking, see my family and friends, and shopping (of course). You would think that the amount you see me gaming I would be extremely lazy… I get it, it's okay! In fact, it is the complete opposite. I love exercising and I absolutely love being outdoors, but I still love to game also.


While some of you may think that I am addicted to gaming, I don’t believe this is addiction. How do I know? Mainly because gaming brings me happiness! It is something that makes me feel calm and relaxed in my life. Regardless of the amount that I game, I was still able to get two degrees, one diploma, a house, an amazing husband, maintain positive friendships, stay close with my amazing family, be a regional and national champion in dancing, join counties sports teams, and travel all around the world. I’m proud to say that I am a gamer and gaming is so important to me and my overall wellbeing.    


I wanted to share my story because even though I have gamed a lot in my life, I still really enjoy it to this day. It is something I can go without, but it has had such a positive impact on my life, I want it to be balanced throughout my life along with all the other amazing activities I manage to squeeze in.  


I understand, however, that some people and kids can take gaming too far where it becomes a negative influence on their lives, and it turns into an addiction. To keep an eye out for this, I wanted to make parents and caregivers aware of some differences between enjoyment from gaming as a hobby and gaming as an addiction.





When someone enjoys gaming, they feel like they are in charge and can choose whether or not to continue gaming.



When someone is addicted, they lose control. The person feels like they have to game and keep gaming like they don’t have a choice. They might find it hard to stop or limit their gaming, even when it gets in the way of their daily life, relationships, or responsibilities. Their game time is not balanced ni their lives but takes over.


Effect on Happiness and Wellbeing


Gaming usually makes people feel better as it can act as stress reliever and relax them (even if it’s a stressful game!). It should also bring about a sense of achievement and happiness as you learn new skills and successfully complete quests and objectives that help the gamer grow as a person.



When a person's health and happiness deteriorate because of gaming, this is when it could be considered an addiction. If gaming causes a lot of stress, trouble, decrease physical and mental health,  and bad things start to happen in many areas of a person’s life, relationships, school or work performance, this is when action needs to be taken and a reshuffle of priorities is needed.


Withdrawal Symptoms



When someone can stop gaming on their own accord and they can freely walk away without feeling bad or down, this is a level where gaming is still a hobby. Children should be able to easily stop doing what they're doing without too much trouble. Although it would be normal for them to be upset if you pull them away from a good part of the game! Just compare it to how they would react if you took a toy or phone off them.


People who are addicted can have withdrawal symptoms and bad effects when they can't game or can't do as much of it. When the person can't do the addictive behaviour, they may feel cravings, anger, restlessness, anxiety, or depression.


If you’re not sure where to start, try introducing gaming times and habits so that a child knows what a healthy balance looks like which they can then learn from. For example, create a weekly planner showing them how much they can game on a specific day (at all) so that they can develop this behaviour. If you’re worried they are gaming too much, try introducing something like a Gaming Contract where you both agree to specific rules around gaming including times, or, offer something else to keep their time occupied so they don’t get bored.


It's important to remember that enjoyment of your hobby and addiction are on a scale, and sometimes it's hard to tell where someone is on that line. Remember, it's not about eliminating gaming altogether, but rather finding a healthy balance along with other activities that allows children to enjoy the benefits of gaming while still thriving in other aspects of life.


By Gee Gee                 

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