Although teenagers and children are generally at a greater risk for becoming addicted to computer games, the stereotype of a shy awkward teen playing video games alone in his parents’ basement is just that – a stereotype. Adults, especially those in their 30s and 40s who were part of the first video game boom in the 1980s can also develop unhealthy obsessions with video games.
It is true that the media has focused more on child and adolescent video game addiction, but young adults in their twenties all the way to senior citizens can lose control of their gaming habits (although seniors are admittedly a small minority of video game addicts at present).
When played occasionally or only when other responsibilities have been attended to, video games can be a harmless form of entertainment that many argue is no worse than watching TV or movies.
Unfortunately, some adults have just as much difficulty playing video games in moderation as children and teenagers do. For these adults, video games may become more of a priority than their families, friends, or careers. They may play video games until the moment they go to bed at night and then start playing again as soon as they wake up in the morning.
Adult video game addicts may lose relationships, neglect their health, ignore their families, and may experience depressed mood due to gaming related social isolation. Note that while excessive video gaming may contribute to issues like depression, pre-existing psychological issues may also cause an adult to retreat into the world of online gaming.
Adult Video Game Addiction Signs
● The most obvious sign is of course, an unhealthy obsession with video games that results in hours of gaming time almost every day. There is no single number of hours that one must play before being seen as addicted to video games. Instead, a problem with video games exists when excessive video gaming significantly interferes with other aspects of the adult’s life (e.g., family, career, health, mood, relationships).
● A less obvious sign of adult video game addiction is an obsession with the game that extends beyond simply playing it. For example, adult video game addicts may spend a lot of time reading about the game online, discussing it with others, or daydreaming about it when they should be focused on more important or pressing responsibilities.
● Adults addicted to video games may become angry, irritable, or extremely restless when they cannot access their favorite game. These feelings may be especially strong when someone else (for example, a spouse) becomes angry about how much time he or she spends with video games.
● One of the most telling signs of adult video game addiction is when the person no longer appears to value time spent with friends and / or family. Taking time to socialize with other may be seen as a poor use of time and the player may turn down social invitations in favor of playing video games alone at home. At night, an adult video game addict may prefer to spend his evenings in front of a computer screen rather than devoting time to his spouse or children. Gaming often continues late into the night – well after other family members have gone to sleep.
● As video game addiction progresses, the player may care less and less about his physical appearance and personal hygiene. Showering, shaving, washing clothes, and brushing teeth may all be neglected in favor of gaming.
● A common sign of adult video game addiction is that the player no longer participates in activities they used to enjoy. This may include sports, hobbies, or really any activity not involving video games. Adult video game addicts may claim that gaming is the only activity that makes them happy or that they find interesting or engaging.
● Adults who are addicted to video games (who typically have more disposable income than children and teenagers) may spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on gaming - including new games, upgraded computer systems, expensive televisions, and high end sound systems to enhance their console gaming experience.
● Adults addicted to video games may lie to significant others about how much time they spend playing video games, how often they play, and how much money they spend on gaming. They may lie because they are embarrassed by something that they recognize as a problem, but may also lie because they simply want to avoid having to deal with others who would be angry or frustrated by their unhealthy obsession with computer games.
● Adult video game addicts may, just like teens and children, experience physical symptoms such as headaches, dry eyes, excessive fatigue during the day, neck aches, weight issues, and / or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Stopping Video Game Addiction
Whereas kids and teens that are addicted to video games have parents who can enforce limits on video games when excessive play becomes an issue, adult video game addicts are must acknowledge the problem themselves and then take action to regain control of their lives.
Even though acknowledging a problem with video games is a first step, it is not the only step, nor the most important step. Actually doing something to get gaming habits under control is the obvious follow-up to recognizing the problem.
Some video game addicts seek help and support from family and friends or perhaps enter therapy with a psychologist or therapist who specializes in video game addiction (they are rare but they do exist). Others may try self-help video game addiction books. Finally, frustrated by their inability to play in moderation, some adult video game addicts may choose to uninstall the game, close accounts, and completely walk away from the game once and for all – a simple approach that may be one of the best decisions an adult video game addict can make.