In today’s blog post we are going to discuss video game addiction treatment options. For most parents, video game addiction treatment seems far-fetched and can even make individuals question the validity of the diagnosis.
But ask any parent of a middle school or rising teenager and they will tell you, video game addiction treatment options are needed in today’s culture. Parents of teens today grew up playing games like Atari and Pac-Man. Video games of today are just not on the same playing field as video games we grew up with as parents.
The reasons why video games are so addictive are numerous. Consider that the first video game to be advertised on TV was Zaxxon with a marketing budget of approximately $100,000. Today, your average high-end video game will have a marketing budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Mind you, this is only the marketing budget, not the development budget that went into paying research and clinical psychologists as well as game developers to make the games as addicting as possible.
If you consider that all video games now are connected to the internet, whether that be through Xbox Live or through your cell phone gameplay, researchers have an unlimited supply of data to figure out what design qualities produce the most addictive video games. These designers can easily compare Quest a to Quest B and split test various components of video games including the frequency to which buttons are pressed, colors of characters, or any other individual characteristic of the video game.
Video Game Addiction Treatment Options: Where to Begin
For parents looking for video game addiction treatment options, the biggest push back you will likely encounter from your child is that video games are the primary way in which they interact with their peer group. On one level, this is a valid point and quite possibly true. On another level, parents should remember that if this is indeed the only way your child is interacting with others, perhaps now is the time for you to intervene and ensure your child is getting valuable face-to-face social interaction practice.
The issue with interacting only through screens is that your child is missing subtle nuances of face-to-face social interaction. Consider the behavior of a 10-year-old versus a 15-year-old. While there are only five years difference in age span, the maturity level is quite vast. If your child is missing out on face-to-face socialization opportunities they are going to fall behind on their ability to read facial cues and therefore interact at an age-appropriate level.
We recommend that parents practice an intervention first. Be prepared for all the things you know your child would say when you first attempt to limit game time. While your child can certainly express their discontent, ultimately it is your decision as a parent as to the amount of time your child should be gaming. Remember, you as the parent know what is best for your child. If your child responds with anger or rage this is further proof that and addictive pattern of behavior has formed and must be addressed.
Video Game Addiction Treatment Options: Preparing for the Intervention
In preparing for an intervention, parents should remember that most likely emotions will run high. Practice with your parenting partner, siblings, or a friend on responding to likely responses from your child. Stick to the facts. Use “I” statements such as, “I am worried about your game playing because I’ve noticed you have lost interest in other activities sense picking up your latest game.”
Also, stick with observable behavior and leave opinion out of it. If you stick to the facts and use “I” statements, it gives your child less to rebut. Think about everything your child might say in response to your concerns and be prepared to answer these questions or complaints.
One common strategy teenagers will try is negotiating. For example, if you have made the decision to send your child off to treatment, your child might beg for, “one last chance to get my behaviors in line with expectations.”
Parents should be prepared to counteract these pleas for help with positive affirmations as to why the child needs to get help. Essentially, if you are doing an intervention the time for negotiation and one last chance has passed. The danger with relenting after an intervention is that you are communicating to your child that while you are concerned about their video game play, it is not that important and you are willing to continue down the same road.
This is one of the more harmful things parents can do, to stage an intervention but then relent and walk away with a negotiated lesser option. This only communicates to the child that when they get in trouble they should just try to “lawyer” their way out of it and that while the problem behavior may be a concern, it’s not really that important.
Therefore, before you attempt an intervention, make sure that all parties are in agreement and that you have some backup going into the conversation. Stand your ground and be firm with your child. It is okay to say I love you and I care about you and that this is a very difficult decision but bottom line is that your current behavior is no longer acceptable in this home.
Video Game Addiction Treatment Options: Residential versus In-Home
The danger with in-home therapy is that rarely does it provide enough structure to change a true addiction. Limiting a child’s gameplay is simply not enough. A child needs to also develop insight as to why limiting their gameplay is needed and to see from a distance the harm it is causing them in their lives. This is best achieved in a residential setting, not through an in-home setting visiting an outpatient therapist once or twice a week.
The other issue is that seeing a therapist only once or twice per week is not an effective video game addiction treatment option due to the limited amount of therapeutic contact the child will have. The best video game addiction treatment option will be a specialized program specifically for video game addiction treatment.
Another concern is that you do not want to mix your child in with drug and alcohol offenders when they may have had no previous exposure to these substances. Teens that need video game addiction treatment options tend to be internally focused and have withdrawn inwards due to a primary diagnosis of depression, social anxiety, ADHD, or being on the Spectrum.
These types of kids that are inwardly focused is an inappropriate mix for the general population of a drug and alcohol treatment program. Generally, individuals that are hooked on drugs and alcohol have learned how to manipulate others and can be very socially savvy. This sets up the inwardly focused gamer to be further victimized or bullied. Truly, the best video game addiction treatment option for teens is a residential setting that is specialized towards video game addiction treatment and treats the behavior as a primary or secondary focus. If the program does not advertise treatment of video game addiction on their homepage it is recommended that you look elsewhere.
Video Game Treatment Options: Now is the Time to Act
In the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement, completed by 27,000 first-year students, over 1/3 of incoming males and 1/4 of incoming females reported playing computer games more than 16 hours per week. Because putting off schoolwork is a common side effect of video game addiction, these students expectedly had lower SAT scores and lower high school grades and completed fewer AP courses. These students also came to college less prepared to succeed, and were deemed to be more likely to fall further behind if their addiction takes a greater hold over their daily routines.
Every moment your child spends playing video games or interacts with a handheld digital device for stimulation a neuro-pathway in the brain is strengthened. Like all habits, the more a habit is done, the harder it is to break. While the immediate cost of digital media overuse are obvious, such as loss of social skill building opportunities and decreased attention, many parents are surprised to learn that excessive screen use is also linked to a variety of mental disorders including anxiety disorders, depression, and personality traits including introversion, aggressiveness, and hostility.
Please give us a call if looking for a video game addiction treatment option. If you’ve tried limiting gameplay, taking the games away, and other punitive tactics and it only causes your child to push back, we can be of assistance. Our highly qualified staff will show your child the value of reclaiming their life from the addiction of video games and help them develop not only self-regulation skills to limit game play but also help them develop new interests in life. Best of all, with our qualified therapists your child will have the opportunity to practice and learn social skills and emotional control strategies. In short, we can help you get your child back.