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Play until you drop – how do I recognize computer game addiction?

2 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Copyright: Ute Grabowsky/photothek.net

Children love to play. But especially when it comes to computer games, many parents are unsure how much playtime is appropriate for their child and when there is a risk of addiction.

What is the appeal of gaming?

Diving into other worlds, slipping into different roles, mastering difficult tasks, experiencing exciting stories and escaping reality for a short time – all this makes gaming tempting for children, whether on the computer or outside with friends. Games in particular offer countless opportunities to experience adventures and compete with others. What’s difficult about gaming is sometimes stopping again, because many games don’t have a clear end.

When do we speak of dependence?

There are very few people who are actually “addicted” to computer games in the medical sense. The word comes up quickly in everyday life, even if it’s not actually appropriate. Just because your child spends a lot of time playing computer games doesn’t usually mean he or she is addicted. Nevertheless, in addition to talking to your child, firm rules will help if you feel he or she is playing too much and neglecting friends or school. Because “eccentric consumption” can also be problematic. More hints can be found here.

An addiction or dependency is a disease. It’s not a matter of “how long” or “how often,” but “why.” Observe your child to find out why they are so captivated by a game. If you’re worried your child might be addicted, you can look at some risk factors that could indicate your child might be addicted to gambling. If you observe the following in your child over an extended period of time, you should seek help:

  • Playing computer games is the most important thing in your child’s life, and the whole daily routine is oriented towards it. It constantly expresses the desire to be allowed to play again and former favorite activities fall into the background.
  • Your child has an urgent desire to play more and more and longer.
  • Your child has completely lost control of their own gaming behavior and time limits are not being adhered to, even though they know they are spending too much time on the computer.
  • The computer game is a distraction from negative feelings such as anger with family or friends or stress at school.
  • Your child allows gaming to have a negative impact on real life: For example, he or she withdraws from friends, neglects hobbies, and obligations such as school or soccer practice are only perceived as unpleasant and unfulfilling.
  • When there is no possibility to play computer, withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness, restlessness and aggressiveness occur.

These are just a few of the many characteristics that can be typical of a computer game addiction. However, be aware: Only experts can make a medical diagnosis!

My child seems to be dependent – what can I do now?

If you suspect a computer game addiction in your child, the first thing you should do is address it openly. Show understanding and think together about what rules can make it play less. If you can no longer find access to your child, addiction counseling centers offer support and can provide concrete contacts. There are these in larger cities and also online. Research jobs in your area online or contact, for example: http://www.fv-medienabhaengigkeit.de/hilfe-finden.html or https://www.nummergegenkummer.de/. An addiction usually has other causes than computer gaming itself. You should find these out by talking to your child and with the help of professionals.

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