Recognizing Video Game and Internet Addiction
Imagine that something takes hold of your child’s mind so forcefully that you can’t get through to them any more. Some kids suffer from addiction so severe they don’t want to do anything else all day. Many parents go through this with their child who is a drug addict, but it’s not just drugs that pull kids in so tightly. Today we are talking about computers and kids who are addicted to video games and the Internet.
Losing Control because of a Video Game
The stories may surprise us. Parents seem to lose all control over their child who is addicted to the Internet. The kids will skip school, stay up all night to play, and become violent when their parents try to turn off the computer. While these parents would benefit from learning some parenting techniques to keep from getting to that point, the fact is that the Internet and, in particular, online games are so addicting many people find it hard to stop.
It does not just affect kids and young adults; parents themselves and others have been known to neglect their duties because of Internet addiction. “The Internet and its functions have proved to be overwhelmingly positive, empowering and enjoyable allowing millions to connect, be informed, and entertained like no other technology before,” psychiatrist Philip Tam said. “However, for a small but significant minority this … can lead to social, educational and behavioral difficulties. This particularly seems to appear in young people and in those with predisposing mental/behavioral vulnerabilities.” (1)
Help from the Mental Health Community
Researchers will soon launch an online mental health education program that will help parents wean their child off of their addiction. Other parents have chosen to take their child to a psychiatrist for help.
So many parents are seeking help for their children – inpatient treatment in some extreme cases – that the mental health community is ready to do something about this growing problem. They have named this kind of addiction “pathological Internet misuse”. Now a group of psychiatrists plan to include “video game addiction and Internet addiction” in the next international Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. By labeling the disorder and making it an official condition, the hope is that more people will be aware of it and more studies will be done to determine what to do about this kind of addiction.
Get Help Early
The addiction is real, and just like drug addiction or alcoholism, some people are powerless to overcome it. To prevent this problem, parents should set limits on the amount of time a child can be on the Internet or playing these games. By enforcing the limits and taking away privileges if they are misused, parents can limit the exposure to the sites. Most importantly, if a parent sees that their child is unable to stop, they need to take action or get help quickly to prevent a lasting problem.