Although the stereotype of a video game addict is that of an introverted, socially-awkward teenager playing computer games alone in his bedroom, adults can also become addicted to video games.
While video game addiction in children and teens has received more attention in the media, people in their twenties all the way to those in their eighties have developed unhealthy obsessions with video games. True, senior citizens are probably not the group at the highest risk for video game addiction, but many adults in their 30s, 40s, and 50s find themselves dealing with the symptoms of video game addiction.
Adults can become addicted to video games too
Unfortunately, some adults (just like some kids and teens) have difficulty placing appropriate limits on their video gaming time. For these individuals, playing video games becomes an obsession. It may be the first thing they think about in the morning and the last thing they do at night. If possible, they would prefer to play in a virtual world than live in the real world. Life equals gaming, even if this means sacrificing relationships, physical health, emotional wellness, family, career, and other important responsibilities. Both adults and teenagers may turn to video games as a temporary escape from the stresses and responsibilities of real life.
Symptoms of adult video game addiction
How can you tell when computer games are no longer just a hobby or a harmless passtime? What are some video game addiction signs that adults and older adolescents need to be aware of?
Spending an excessive amount of time playing video games or computer games. Note that there is no exact number or hours per day that indicates an addiction. Rather, whether or not gaming is a problem depends both on the time spent playing and how it negatively interferes with other aspects of life.
Obsessively thinking about, talking about, or reading about the game. Adults addicted to video games may daydream about the game during work, may spend an excessive amount of time reading about the game online, and generally have a difficult time focusing on more important activities.
Adult video game addicts generally have more disposable income than kids and teenagers, and consequently, may spend large amounts of money on games, hardware, audio-visual accessories (televisions and sound systems), and computer upgrades.
Adults with a video game addiction may express feelings of anger, agitation, or restlessness when they are not playing and especially when someone else (e.g., partner or family member) comments on how much time they spend playing computer games.
One of the defining symptoms of adult video game addiction is the gradual withdrawal of the gamer from family and friends. He / she may see getting together with others as a waste of time and may make excuses to stay home, thus allowing for continued access to his or her favorite game. In the evenings, the addicted gamer will often retreat to a computer or entertainment room away from other family members and stay there until finally deciding to go to sleep. An extreme withdrawal from family and friends is one of the clearest signs of video game addiction.
Adult video game addicts may notice that they no longer find pleasure in activities they once enjoyed (hobbies, sports, getting together with friends, other forms of entertainment) and may give up these healthier activities in favor of video games. They may only feel truly happy or relaxed when playing their favorite games.
Adults who are obsessed with video games may lie about just how often or how much time they spend playing video games. They may do this because either because they recognize just how unhealthy it is and feel guilty or ashamed, or they lie about their gaming time because they disagree with others who believe that they play too much.
Similar to teenagers and children, adults who are addicted to video games may experience a host of physical symptoms due to extended gaming sessions. For example, they may experience headaches, neck aches, dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, weight gain, and irregular sleep patterns.
In some cases, an adult who is obsessed with video games will neglect personal hygiene (shaving, showering, changing clothes, general upkeep) and may have very poor dietary habits (choosing foods that can be eaten quickly or while playing rather than healthier complete meals).
Getting Help Unlike children and teenagers who (ideally) have parents to set limits for video games, adult video game addicts must take responsibility for getting their own excessive gaming under control. Although recognizing the symptoms of video game addiction and accepting that one has a problem are initial steps, this alone is not enough. Adults addicted to video games may try to quit “cold turkey”, ask for help from family and friends, download self-help video game addiction books, or seek assistance from a psychologist or counsellor as more therapists now offer treatment for video game addiction.