Video game or internet addiction is the unregulated use of digital devices in a way that is interfering with an individual’s ability to live a happy, productive and fulfilling life.

Individuals with video game or internet addiction may spend significant portions of time engaging with their devices, neglecting healthy activities such as eating, sleeping, maintaining personal hygiene and engaging with others.

infographic of symptoms of gaming addiction

Common causes of gaming addiction

Similar to other behavioural addictions, compulsive video game or internet use is commonly driven by underlying attempts to avoid unpleasant emotions. What often begins as a social activity or a recreational way to relieve stress can become out of hand as it becomes unregulated. In many cases, video game and internet addiction can be difficult to recognise particularly with the increasing connectivity of the world and smart devices.

 

Signs and symptoms of gaming addiction

Other emotional or psychological signs of compulsive internet and video game use include feelings of anxiety when absent from digital devices, agitation or aggression when unable to engage in video game playing or internet access, and consistent thoughts pertaining to video games or internet activities.

Individuals with video game or internet addiction may spend significant portions of time engaging with their devices, neglecting healthy activities such as eating, sleeping, maintaining personal hygiene and engaging with others.

It can be difficult for some people to identify when video game or Internet use has become compulsive or “addictive”. A dependence on social media and online porn can also be difficult to self-diagnose. This may be because the use of digital media as a form of relaxation and enjoyment can easily be blurred with emotional avoidance or “numbing”. Addiction is a loss of control. If you want to see if you really exercising free will when it comes to video game or Internet use, try to stop. If this is challenging or impossible for you, it is likely you have developed a dependence.

 

Therapeutic approach for recovery

A multimodal approach to psychological therapy is often beneficial in allowing those with internet and video game addiction to uncover underlying drivers. Equipping individual’s with tools to cope with those causes is a foundational aspect of ongoing recovery and freedom.

With healthy coping strategies, tools and support, you can overcome gaming addiction and rediscover freedom of life once again.