How should parents deal with video game addiction

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What is addiction How do you define computer game addiction?

Adults in particular quickly tend to assume that adolescents are “addicted”. The long road from regular gambling to addiction requires that terms such as “addiction” and “addict” be used carefully. Nobody would tell their child who has just had a cold that they have "terminal fever". Only the expert - in this case the psychologist - can determine whether there is “addictive gambling”.

The path to addictive computer game use flows through several phases, which can also be described in different ways:

no gambling sporadic gambling ➜ regular / engaged gambling ➜ excessive gambling ➜ addictive gambling

Children and young people are particularly at risk

Experts often agree that the transition from regular consumption to excessive use to abuse and addiction is fluid. In addition, children and adolescents are particularly at risk, which also has to do with the biological developmental steps of the psyche and brain structure. Psychological side effects such as depression or even physical complaints go hand in hand with the development of an addiction.

As with diseases, uniform criteria apply to mental disorders, which a psychologist uses to determine the type of mental disorder. If necessary, the health insurance company can only bear the therapy costs after a clear determination. These uniform criteria were set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the "International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems" (ICD for short) worldwide.

Computer game addiction officially recognized as a disease from 2018

Until 2018, neither internet nor computer game addiction was listed as an independent disease in the ICD catalog. As a result, patients had to pay most of the therapy costs themselves. In the new catalog of diseases (ICD-11), excessive computer or video games will be listed as a gaming disorder from 2019. The following three features are listed in this catalog:

  1. Loss of control while playing (frequency, duration, intensity, etc.)
  2. Playing has priority over other life interests and activities (school, job, family, etc.)
  3. Continued play despite negative consequences

Only when this behavior is shown over a longer period of at least 12 months can the diagnosis of “gaming disorder” be made.

The 2017 drug report also mentions other features as indications of a disease:

  • Constant preoccupation with playing,
  • Tolerance development (the need to play more and more),
  • Withdrawal symptoms in the drug-free phase, such as restlessness or irritability,
  • Acts of deception to keep caregivers in the dark about the real extent of gambling,
  • dysfunctional emotion regulation (the addictive substance seems to be the only way to get relief from negative feelings).