The pandemic has taken a toll on every aspect of life and we may not know the full impact for many years to come. One thing we do know, however, is according to recent surveys, stay-at-home kids have seen a massive spike in screen time and online gaming. This has caused many parents to become worried as they’ve witnessed changes in their children’s behavior and daily activities causing them to question if video game addiction is real. 

If you have questions or concerns about video game addiction, know that specialized video game counselors are available for guidance, support and a variety of therapies so you don’t have to go through it alone. 

How The Pandemic Has Lead To An Increase In Screen Time

As we know, quickly after the onset of the pandemic, classrooms were closed and students transitioned to online or zoom classes and have since remained mostly virtual. This adjustment alone has led to an increase in screen time, which many psychologists and health professionals warn can have several negative side effects. 

Not only that, but with the lack of extracurricular activities available due to social distancing, parents have reported an excessive increase in the amount of time their kids spend online outside of school work on sites such as Netflix, Youtube and Tiktok. According to their surveys, since the pandemic, youth spend on average 6+ hours a day online which is a 500% increase from previous years.

Video game spending is also up to record highs in the US. In 2021 alone, video game spending increased more than 27% resulting in over 178 billion dollars. There are also currently more than 3.24 billion game players worldwide. This means, potentially, more and more children are at risk of becoming addicted to video games than ever before. While some mental health professionals are considering if video games are clinically addicting, they do see concerning behaviours that align with addiction and impulse control disorders. 

The following are signs of gaming or impulse control disorders:

  • Unable to control the urge to play games
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Lying to others about the amount of time they spend playing games
  • Showing moodiness when unable to play games
  • Lack of hygein or self-care
  • Prioritizing gaming over everything else 
  • Using video games to escape problems at home, school, etc

How Therapy Can Help With Gaming Addictions

First, it’s important to know when the time is right. Many mental health professionals agree that therapy is most effective when a person is ready to make a change and face the challenges that may come with recovery. Second, just like any other addiction, gaming addictions can have several consequences on a person’s life. Therefore, it’s important to treat it with the same seriousness as any other addiction. 

A specialized therapist can help you understand how your life is being negatively affected, help you get to the root problem and give you tools and techniques to overcome toxic urges. If you can see the warning signs in yourself or someone you love, reach out to a professional for support. You don’t have to go through it alone. 

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