Saturday, March 23, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Video Game Addiction

Another concern mentioned by Temple Grandin during a recent presentation is video game addiction. She is especially concerned that more and more teens and young adults are developing an unhealthy obsession with their gaming systems.

Although Dr. Grandin did not grow up in a time of online play, she said she participated in what she calls a "1950s video game". She had a brass plate that covered a screw on her bed. She could spin the plate, and preferred to spend hours in this activity. Her mother, however, had other ideas. After an hour, her mom called a halt to this engaging pastime and would send her outside.

Video game addiction is a newly recognized disorder, and those with special needs, low self-esteem, and social problems are especially vulnerable. A family history of addiction is also a risk factor. Role-playing games are especially seductive as children, teens, and young adults These activities allow the player to display online personas that are everything the person is not in real life.

How can you tell if a loved one has a video game addiction? Turns out it's very similar to any other kind of addiction, according to Web MD.


  • The person in question is sustained by increasing amounts of the behavior or substance.
  • If they don't get their increasing amounts, they are irritable and spread their misery around. 
Is this really a problem? If played excessively, the child may not socialize, do homework, finish chores, or participate in other activities that teach life skills and foster social development. Video and computer games also isolate the player from family and friends, even if several people are involved in the play. 

How can you tell if there is a problem? WebMD.com lists the following:

  • Time playing continues to increase.
  • Thoughts turn to gaming while doing other things.
  • Using video games to escape from life's problems. 
  • Lying about gaming activities.
  • Reduction in gaming time causes irritability. 

What can you do about a video game addiction? 
  • Track time playing. 
  • Note problems from gaming. 
  • Keep the system in a public area of the house rather than a bedroom so you can monitor play. 
  • Limit play from the beginning and point out how he or she reacts to the limits. 
  • Require other activities before playing. 
  • If problems become severe, seek out a specialist in video game addiction. 
More questions? Try these sources: