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What Is Game Addiction? How to Know and How to Help

 The World Health Organization says Gaming Addiction is a condition, recognizing it in its International Classification of Diseases with this game addiction diagnostic code.

Read on and you'll hear from a gaming addict and understand why it's time to take this fallout from the digital age seriously.

Game Addiction is real. And it can be incredibly damaging. The WHO said today, they want to bring awareness and attention to this disorder "The inclusion of Internet Gaming as a disorder . . .  will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures." 

When the World Health Organization speaks the world listens. Tech Wellness applauds this announcement.

Screen, Game and Internet Addiction expert Dr. Kimberly Young, founder of The Center for Internet Addiction has been raising the red flag on internet addiction since the 90's! She first brought the potential diagnosis to the American Psychiatric Association then, yet still APA lists it as a "Condition for further study." 

Dr. Young says look for the APA to make changes soon,

"With the recognition from the WHO, there will be increased attention in future additions of the DSM to include compulsive gaming as a disorder." 

When it comes to technology related conditions, Dr. Young doesn't discriminate:  Screen, Gaming, Internet, smartphone and Online addictions can all have the same effects on our ability to communicate, focus and live a balanced happy life.

Game, Internet or Online-When do you know it's addiction?

August Breaks Down Screen Addictions with Dr. Kimberly Young in the Thriving with Technology Podcast. You'll be blown away by her startling examples of just how damaging gaming addiction can get

Have you seen what Game Addiction looks like? I have. It keeps people up. It keeps them away from their real life. A close friend of mine has an obsession with Candy Crush that drags her into the game for hours. Avoiding phone calls, the doorbell, friends and any other obligations. She knows it and doesn't like it and is thinking about joining group therapy.

Gaming addiction can be as damaging a drug addiction-see this  recent post where an addict describes the excruciating pain of trying to come clean in an online community for Game Addicts called StopGaming,

"Left my mouse at a library after yesterdays relapse, I’ve had the mouse for probably almost a decade, but only used it for gaming. I had a lot of energy yesterday, and instead of turning in or sublimating the energy to something useful, I played from 8 pm to 5 am in the morning without pause. My balls and brain fell asleep and afterwards I felt hungover for 12 hrs. I was sick of it when I went to bed at 5 am, but when I woke up I felt like playing again, and this made me visualize my future if I let this go on. I started thinking and liked the symbolism and ceremonial feel of getting rid of my mouse forever. When I was in town on this errand and drinking a cup of joe I started enjoying just being in the moment. After such a hard night and hungover morning I started to become very sensitive to what gave me small dopamine surges like the joie-de-vivre of a dog walking with an old lady, relaxed, gently wagging his tail and breathing in the scents of the streets, and the book I was reading about Karezza - sublimation of sexual energy, and eye contact with a cute girl passing by. When I came home I realized that my hangover had started to subside, and that I didn’t feel needy and compulsive, as I often do when I’m in a phase where I do gaming. There is no moderation. I have to choose either a virtual world or the real world to connect to and associate with adventure, and my brain will accomodate either. Even so, only choosing the real world will give a real connection, purpose and personal growth for me. I feel deep relief and contentment after this day of tough love."

 For Most Games It's Addiction By Design. We talked about how Tristan Harris called out app, phone and game developers in our smartphone addiction story, Brain Hacking.

Basically game creators use predictive algorithms and principles of behavioral reactions to keep players engaged and deliver a dopamine rush.

Dr. Young says Silicon Valley and game developers on are on notice,

"Even the tech industry has come to the table to discuss addictive properties of technologies and the misuse of hiring behavioral psychologists to make games reinforcing through rewards-which ultimately increases their addictive potential."

If you're looking for an addiction specialist, we recommend the world renowned Center for Internet Addiction. The Center has been helping people through screen, internet, digital, gaming and online addictions for 25 years. In our Tech Wellness Internet Addiction podcast, Dr. Young cautions that US doesn't yet have addiction certification for professionals,
"Anyone can throw up a shingle and say they are an internet addiction specialist without any particular training."

Coming Soon, Help for Addicts, says Public Policy Expert, Dr. George Carlo,

"That the World Health Organization has now recognized Gaming Disorder as an ICD diagnosis is an important step forward for management of this condition, especially as it portends future insurance coverage for bona fide treatments."

Who's likely to become addicted? 


Well, since 90% of American teens are playing games, all us Moms and Dads need to pay close attention.

Curious if you or a someone you love may be addicted? Take the Test:

    One of the most popular pages on our site is about Games.  We direct Moms and Dads to Free and WiFi-free (no Wireless Radiation!) games. The fact that this post is so incredibly popular tells us that parents are looking for video games and apps for their kids to play.

    The Tech Wellness way is balance and mindfulness with technology.  Not only do we refrain from recommending wildly popular, but wildly violent games like Fortnite, we also HIGHLY recommend Dr. Kimberly Young's Screen Smart Guide to the thousands of people who visit our 2018 Best WiFi Free Games List

    Because being a good parent means being a mindful one. The Best Thing We Can Do to Help stop the tsunami of game and device addiction is prevent addiction with healthy boundaries Dr. Young advises time guidelines and parent guidelines for kids 3-12 and very important for non-addictive, healthy development: Absolutely no screen time at all for kids under 3.

    Dr. Carlo sees hope ahead with the WHO announcement,
    "It is a wake-up call for parents, teachers, coaches, health care providers and all of those responsible for the wellbeing of our young people. This is an insidious problem that is growing day by day -- in our homes, schools, places of business, centers of recreation and even in our arenas. It's sneaking up on us all. Prevention is achievable. It's time."

    So let's start the movement to tech wellness by being very aware: Here are some of the symptoms of screen, gaming or internet addiction:

    • Failed attempts to control behavior
    • Neglecting friends and family
    • Neglecting sleep to stay online or on the game
    • Not being honest with others when they ask about being online
    • Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior
    • Weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Withdrawing from other fun real-life activities

    Meanwhile, what's up with the worlds most popular game? At a family gathering my nieces and nephews walked me through the number one most played game in America: Fortnite. Oh my. So violent.

    Parents take note. Kids are playing the killing game Fortnite. A report in January told us 4,000,000 players were on the game concurrently. Not just 4 million kids and adults playing, but actually playing at the same time. And though they may not be addicted, they are most definitely being exposed to violence. 

    Did you know 25% of Americans think violence in videos is related to violent behavior? Check out this Pew Research Center survey.

    If you'd like to know more about gaming and what's going on inside of the head of an online or video game player, you might find this survey of 3,000 Gamers interesting.

    •  People who play video games spend an average of nearly six hours each week playing. Gamers 18-25 spend the most time, at more than seven hours each week.
    •  Globally, gamers spend more time playing on mobile phones than on computers, tablets, or gaming consoles. However, men and people older than 45 spend more time playing on desktop or laptop computers than any other device.
    •  Nearly 85 percent of gamers download free games multiple times each year. However, only 55 percent are willing to pay to download games.
    •  Gamers spend an average of one hour and 48 minutes each week watching other gamers play online on sites such as Twitch. This compares to two hours and 27 minutes spent watching traditional sports on broadcast television.
    •  Millennial gamers (age 18-35) spend more time watching other people play video games than they spend watching traditional sports on television, while younger gamers (age 18-25) spend almost an hour more each week watching online gaming than watching traditional sports.
    •  Globally, gamers play consecutively for an average of one hour and 20 minutes at a time.
    • More than 27 percent of gamers admit to playing video games at work at least once a month.
    •  Nearly one third, 32 percent, would quit their job if they could support themselves as professional video gamers.
    •  Gamers are concerned about online security. More than half will not continue to make purchases or play games on a website that has previously suffered a security breach.
    •  Globally, gamers are downloading games at the same rate they did a year ago. Younger gamers are downloading games more often than a year ago.
    •  Gamers’ most significant frustration is with the length of time it takes to download game files.
    •  Gamers play casual single-player games such as Candy Crush or Angry Birds more often than other types of games.
    •  Fast performance is more important to gamers than a game being simple to play, having an interesting storyline, or being available offline.
    • Consumers prefer downloading video games rather than purchasing physical copies or renting or trading them.

    This was done by a Content Delivery Network company called LimeLight Networks.


    Let's Be Mindful with all things online.




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