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How to Address Your Teen with Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction is a growing epidemic in the United States. Teens are especially vulnerable to this disease with the onslaught of available platforms to play games. Video game addiction is recognized as a similar addiction to gambling as the rush of winning becomes the primary motivation for playing. Video games have developed into more than the original arcade games that were available in the 1970s. Teens can overcome video game addiction with exposure to wilderness therapy and familial support.

What causes video game addiction?

Video game addiction is a controversial form of addiction. It is not currently considered an addiction by certain scientific circles. Addiction is defined as a recurrent behavior that impacts a teen’s life.  Studies suggest that video game addiction is most commonly related to gambling addiction. Teen gamers are presented with an opportunity to win or beat a previous score which simulates a “high” in the brain. Researchers suggest that the process of playing games and winning releases dopamine, which provides a rush of energy. This is the same neurotransmitter that is involved in other addictive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse. Teens who spend significant amounts of time gaming are considered addicted. Not only will teens avoid social situations to game, it can affect many aspects of their life. A teen will experience significant delays in mental, physical, and emotional areas of their life.

Gaming allows teens to be rewarded and stimulates that high of winning. Another possible cause of video game addiction is that video game designers create games to be addictive. They want people to keep coming back and keep playing their games to make money. Video game developers design the game so that success seems possible but just out of reach for the player. As a result, players will spend hours playing until they reach the goal of winning.

video game addiction
How to spot video game addiction

How do parents know if their teen is experiencing video game addiction? Teens experience both physical and emotional symptoms because of video game addiction. Physically, teens will experience fatigue, migraines due to intense concentration, and poor personal hygiene. Teens will also begin to complain of stress related injuries such as pain in their hands and wrists. They may gain an immense amount of weight in a short amount of time due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Emotionally, teens will experience feelings of irritability, lying to friends and family about amount of time playing, and isolation from others. It is often that teens will withdraw from social activities to spend more time playing the game. Although many games allow teens some interaction with others, it is no substitute to learning how to interact with others in the real world.  It is common that teens will also experience problems with concentration and may experience an increased aggression against others.

Wilderness therapy helps teens with video game addiction

Wilderness therapy is one of the most progressive and effective forms of treatment for video game addiction. It is a form of therapy that removes teens from a toxic environment and helps them reconnect with themselves and nature. Teens do not have access to games or technology while in wilderness therapy. They are only exposed to the experiences that nature offers.

Teens who are exposed to wilderness therapy will be completely removed from their familiar environment. They will not have access to video games or technology. Once they are exposed to nature, teens will be able to focus on social, emotional, and psychological growth they may not have experienced otherwise. Teens will experience physical changes as they are hiking and climbing. A video game addiction can cause changes in behavior and emotions. Wilderness therapy helps teens rewire their brains.

There is hope for your family. There is hope for your teen in overcoming video game addiction. Read stories of others who have overcome video game addiction. Talk with your teen. Talk with your teen’s doctor. There are many resources available for you to help your teen become stronger.

To learn more about wilderness therapy, click here