The development of the internet and the online world has opened up a new range of possibilities for problems and mental health issues in teenagers. Not only are teenagers now faced with more pressures from society based on what they see online, but they are also exposed to areas of the internet which could easily cause issues. One of these potentially problematic areas is online gaming.
While you may initially think that playing games aren’t necessarily a cause for concern, serious internet gaming and the inability to stop playing can have a detrimental effect on your teen’s mental and physical health. Playing games is, of course, a great pastime for those who enjoy it. When overuse begins, and when the effects of playing a game overwhelm a teenager, that’s when you need to seek help.
How to Identify a Problem with Gaming Overuse
It can be very tricky for a parent who is not overly familiar with the online world, or who knows nothing about video games or online gaming, to be able to identify when their teen has a problem with gaming overuse. Especially when games played online can be enjoyable pastimes and a great activity for your teen to share with their friends.
Games are enjoyable, and if your teen loves playing games and even if they spend the majority of their time playing them, that doesn’t necessarily warrant an intervention. However, evident signs of a problem include:
- Spending an unhealthy amount of time playing games (such as avoiding sleep, exercise or canceling other activities to continue playing games)
- Spending a high amount of money on gaming consistently, even if they can’t afford to.
It’s essential to understand the difference between enjoyment and obsession.
It may even be that your teen acknowledges that they spend too much time on gaming, but feel they are unable to stop or express vocally that they would like to stop yet continue to play.
When Does Gaming Become a Problem?
As mentioned above, gaming overuse becomes a big issue when your teen is leading an unhealthy lifestyle because of it. They may be failing to exercise or spending all their time indoors, for example.
Serious problems form when your teen can’t concentrate on any other aspect of their life. This includes their school work, their job, or with their friends and family, due to their obsession with gaming. Plus, if they are potentially getting into debt because of their gaming addiction.
Spending too much money on gaming is more easily done in the modern world, due to the ease with which smart devices and computers allow gamers to connect financial information seamlessly. A game may offer in-app purchases, for example, or else provide extra gaming content at a price.
Your teen may also feel pressure to spend long hours gaming or to spend a lot of money on games, if their friends are avid gamers and if they seek to fit in or receive peer pressure from friends to play games. The probability of this increases when you factor in multiplayer game options, which means your teen can easily connect with friends remotely to play games online.
Social Media Overuse
Social media itself can easily result in issues manifesting, not to mention the opportunity for games offered through social media. Teens can easily spend hours and hours scrolling through social media, and this has only been exacerbated by the rise of new social media platforms and new content being added every second of the day.
Your teen may naturally want to use social media, and it can be a healthy place for a teen to connect with other people. It can also be a dangerous one regarding obsessive behaviors. There is a possibility of your teen developing mental health issues as a response to what they are seeing on social media and the pressures they might be feeling.
I Think My Teen Needs Help: What Do I Do?
Contacting a treatment facility for your teen can be a good step to getting them back on track. Ignite’s residential treatment program is designed to help your teen and your family. We can offer many therapy options, including cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling sessions, equine therapy, and more. Our comfortable, residential environment means that your teen will also be getting a break from their daily live in a new setting where they will be separated from their games and the internet to focus entirely on their recovery.
Gaming should be an enjoyable pastime and not a cause for overuse problems in your teen. We want to help your teen get back to enjoying their hobbies, and to help them understand how to use safe practices online to avoid problematic behavior.
If you need any questions answered, please contact us today. We’re here to help.