Being addicted to gaming is an increasingly common problem. Gaming provides a dopamine rush and it’s easy accessible. The only problem with this though, is that the dopamine rush is temporary and pretty soon the draw to another dopamine fix is too tempting to resist.
The brain is just like a muscle, it needs a variety of activities for it to function well. You wouldn’t go to the gym and only exercise one arm and so it is when you are addicted to gaming – you only exercise one part of your brain.
Addiction usually occurs when there is a void of some sort. If you are addicted or know someone who is addicted, ask these questions:
What is it about gaming that I enjoy?
What does gaming make me think and feel?
How can I get this same feeling doing somehting other than gaming?
Often, people become addicted to gaming as they feel a sense of mastery. It gives them a sense of validation. Added to this, many online gamers socialise with others and form friendships. There is a social function and social needs are met too, reinforcing the attraction to gaming. It’s easier to make friends online as you can control more aspects of the interaction. For those who suffer from social anxiety ( and research suggests this is an increasing problem), it’s a great way to meet like minded people without all the stress of direct contact.
The person on the other side gets to know you but doesn’t get up close and personal where they could possibly criticise the way you look, dress or where you live.
There are many positives to gaming – it’s stimulating to the brain (far better than passively watching television), there’s team work involves in some of the online games which teaches collaboration and there are social relationships. The problems begin when online gaming becomes more important than the physical environment.
It’s all about balance and about realising that online gaming needs to be in moderation, along with other activities. Going out for a walk, playing a sport or a musical instrument are good ways to provide balance. In order to be a well rounded individual, we need to be experiencing a variety of different situations that also include face to face encounters.
How to deal with addiction to gaming
Make a concerted effort to limit the amount of time per day that you spend gaming on your computer. Life isn’t about always doing what you want. Some times we have to deal with the less enjoyable stuff, like household chores, homework or other activities. It’s a part of life, accept this and get on with it. When you do get to spend time gaming you will enjoy it more.
Try to find something away from the computer that you enjoy doing or that you are good at. Finding validation in other ways can replace and supplement the highs we get from gaming online.
It takes self discipline to reduce online gaming but it’s the right thing to do. When we have enough going on in our lives, the gaming can fit in as a healthy part of our daily lives instead of becoming an unhealthy pursuit.
Mental health will suffer when gaming is too frequent to the exclusion of all else. Everything in moderation.