Are Video Games Addictive?
Video games are genuinely addictive for some children, according to David Walsh, Ph.D., a psychologist, author and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family. In a study Walsh conducted last spring, he found one out of seven kids who played video games had the behavioral characteristics of addiction.
According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, signs of video game addiction in children include:
• Most non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games.
• Falling asleep in school.
• Not keeping up with assignments.
• Worsening grades.
• Lying about computer or video game use.
• Choosing to use the computer or play video games rather than see friends.
• Dropping out of other social groups, clubs or sports.
• Irritability when not playing a video game or on the computer.
Physical symptoms that could point to addiction include carpal tunnel syndrome, sleep disturbances, back and neck aches, headaches, dry eyes and a failure to eat or bathe regularly.
The first step to healing is to recognize the symptoms. As with other behavioral addictions – compulsive gambling or eating disorders – children may need professional help.
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Anne Chappell Belden is a freelance writer, journalism instructor and mother of two children. She has a master’s degree in media studies.