The Beginners Guide to Video Gaming Addiction

When Gaming Isn't Play

Internet gaming is tearing marriages apart and destroying young men’s academic and career prospects; leading towards isolation, low motivation, social anxiety… and more gaming. Gaming addiction is particularly relevant for young men, who game for 56 minutes on average compared to 7 minutes for females. Video games are not evil and people that play them are not bad, this article is referring to gaming dependence which causing significant distress and/or lower functioning.

Why Gaming a Problem Now?

Young people’s attention span has dropped from 10 to 8 seconds, less than a goldfish, and the deliberate nature of technology has created a dependency similar to drugs and gambling. Gaming, an industry valued at more than $100 billion dollars, has been researching and manipulating the psychology of games to hook consumers for years. Parent’s are exhausted, spouses feel lost, and gamers are feeling empty inside.



  1. Preoccupation or obsession with internet gaming: A 2016 study showed that those at most risk for internet played between 2-4 hours a day (15% play more than 4 hours).

  2. Withdrawal: When not playing they are thinking of gaming. If pulled away for gaming too long (or having access taken away), you may see anger, irritability, and restlessness.

  3. Tolerance: An increase in time spent gaming, consuming media, and being in front of a screen.

  4. Apathy: When a person has lost interest or motivation in other life activities, including school, work, hobbies, and being with friends (in the real world).

  5. Lying: Lying or hiding to parents, partner, or family about the time spent gaming or connected to the digital world.

  6. Isolation: A person has impaired relationships and avoids connection with friends, family, etc.  

  7. Failed Cutbacks: When a person has unsuccessfully tried to cutback or reduce time gaming.

  8. Using Gaming as a Coping Strategy: When a person uses gaming to deal with loneliness, stress, depression, or other negative emotion or life situation.

  9. Harming: When gaming/internet use is impairing social, academic, work, and career aspects of life.


  • Poor Health: Lack of sleep, hygiene, and nutrition
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Carpal Tunnel, lower back pain, and low cardiovascular activity
  • Loneliness: Lack of friends, isolation, and disinterest in social engagement/activities
  • Problems with focus, attention, and motivation: Lack of interest, desire, or ability to focus for long periods of time
  • Avoiding/Escaping from Development: Deflecting common developmental challenges by ignoring negative emotions, avoiding awkward social interactions, and escaping from personal pain and trauma
  • Aggression: Some video games and gaming culture can increase violent, combative, and compulsive behavior


Like many other compulsive and behavioral addictions or dependency such as gambling, stealing, or pornography, counselors and clients can co-create an individualized treatment plan using evidence-based (researched) approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and/or Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). The goal of counseling is to get the client to take ownership of their dependence, lives, and future plans. Through therapy, parenting, and social re-integration; technology addicts can re-learn healthy uses of gaming, the internet, and media.

IDEAS FOR PARENTS (a la carte)

  • Try a 90 day detox of gaming/internet use, slowly introducing more functional aspects of internet (for research, school work, etc.)
  • Gaming Contract: Schedule gaming/internet times (even if it’s a lot at first), the types of games, duration, etc.
  • Move gaming/internet tools to a public and open space (addiction loves secrecy)
  • Restrict funding for upgrades, tournaments, and in-game spending
  • Make social activities mandatory, such as sports, clubs, a job, or a social group-counseling experience