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GAMING ADDICTION IN TEENS
Young people that are addicted to gaming are consistently preoccupied with constant thoughts and/ or behaviors of playing video games.
Young people that are addicted to gaming are consistently preoccupied with constant thoughts and/ or behaviors of playing video games. Teenagers that spend the majority of their time playing video games avoid the real world and can miss important aspects of social development. Part of the draw to playing video games is the ability to create one’s avatar. This provides an adolescent with the opportunity to create their identity in any way they see fit. They are literally able to select their avatars clothes, appearance, personalities…etc. Excessive participation in video games can lead to addiction because many games occur in real time, are extremely competitive, and highly interactive, which closely mimic real world, authentic social interactions. This fake gaming community is made up of each member’s avatars and pulls young people away from participating in any real-life social interaction. In turn, a teen addicted to gaming can suffer from low self-esteem and diminished confidence levels.
It is highly common for adolescents playing video games to be using them as a negative coping mechanism, in attempts to deal with painful emotions. The teenagers at Pacific Teen Treatment are smart, young individuals who have learned negative methods to cope with difficult emotions. We are confident in our ability to help our clients learn to integrate healthy coping mechanisms to manage their emotions, allowing them to release their need for the use of the previously learned negative coping skills.
Signs & Symptoms
There are a number of signs and symptoms that can occur as a result of a young person being addicted to gaming. Some of the possibilities include, but are not limited to the following:
• Difficulty concentrating
• Weight fluctuation
• Lowered attention span
• Aggressive behaviors
• Stress injuries of the wrists and/ or hands
• Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
• Social isolation
Every teenager is different and may exhibit varying combinations of the above examples, if he or she suffers from a gaming addiction. While there can be many benefits to a young person playing video games, when it becomes a compulsive behavior it can result in negative consequences.
Teens will often use gaming as a means to cope with uncomfortable emotions that they are unable to process in a healthy way. When treating an adolescent with a gaming addiction, in addition to addressing underlying emotional issues, we also work on cutting back on the young person’s time spent playing video games. Our goal is not to teach complete abstinence, but rather help the teen learn to play video games in moderation and in a non-compulsive manner.
At Pacific Teen Treatment, we create personalized treatment plans that are specific to the needs of each client. We use various therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), talk therapy, and expressive arts therapy. Our team is made up of qualified mental health professionals with extensive experience working with adolescents.
While each individual’s treatment plan will differ, there are several aspects of our program that all of our clients are encouraged to partake. We promote healthy daily choices by encouraging our teens to practice regular exercise, eat nutritious, and nourishing meals, and get ample rest. We also offer various relaxation activities, such as yoga and meditation. Part of out treatment program involves each young person attending three hours of on-site education classes. We strive to teach our clients that they are capable of following healthy daily schedules and successfully meeting the everyday expectations that are placed on adolescents. Having a detailed schedule (that will include time allocated to playing video games as well as many other activities), and successfully practicing a healthy daily routine will help a young person learn to break the cycle of relying on negative coping mechanisms to manage difficulties, and will also help to boost one’s self-esteem and confidence levels.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Seeking support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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