Video game addiction is often perceived as a boy’s problem. Despite its infrequent mention however, gaming addiction among girls and young women is a significant problem today as well. Parents may struggle to determine when obsession has turned to addiction, but there are several clues to watch for.
Experts recommend vigilance for those girls who have already been diagnosed with other emotional or psychological problems. Fortunately, treatment programs are effective for helping girls overcome video game and Internet addiction.
Identifying an Addiction Problem
A gaming addiction is, in many ways, just like any other dependency problem. An enjoyable, even harmless, activity becomes an obsession and the addict loses control. Soon she finds herself unable to stop the behavior, to the detriment of her health and other aspects of life.
Gaming is typically a benign activity for kids and has even been proven beneficial for social and motor skills development. When a problem develops, a girl’s grades may slip. She may begin to neglect friends, family and social obligations. Catching your daughter in lies that involve gaming, or discovering that she is sneaking out of bed at night to play, may indicate the development of an addiction.
Co-Existing and Complicating Factors
The research shows that girls and young women who have previously been diagnosed with social phobias or depression are at increased risk of developing video game and Internet addictions. The social support and virtual control of gaming can offset a girl’s depression. Time spent in a virtual world is often safer and less threatening than the real world. For the young woman with social phobias, the gaming world is a safe, arm’s-length environment in which she can interact with others on her terms. Once she begins to experience the symptoms described above, especially if physical symptoms are also present (headaches, weight loss, joint pain or dry eyes), professional advice is warranted. A previously fastidious teen who ceases to practice personal hygiene is one of the first indications that parents my notice.
Treatment Protocols for Gaming Addictions
Statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 12 teenagers in the United States may suffer from Internet or video game addiction. It is important to seek help for your child if you suspect a problem. In many cases, the underlying cause of the addiction is the primary condition that requires treatment. Treatment for video game addicts may involve the classic steps of detoxification and rehabilitation, although medication and traditional talk therapy are often used as well. What the research shows us today is that a different approach may be more effective.
The majority of kids suffering from a gaming addiction have problems with communication. Taking a child out of her normal environment will force her to experience a new kind of reality, wherein she must interact with counselors, other kids and the environment. Professional help for developing communications skills will round out an effective treatment protocol.
If you suspect your daughter or a young woman in your care has a problem with substance abuse, dependency or addiction of any type, Havenwood Academy provides an effective teenage residential treatment program. Within Havenwood’s safe and trusting environment, your family will find all the help you need to overcome the challenges of video game addiction.