The concept of gaming addiction is just now beginning to enter mainstream consciousness. Yet, for the millions who experience it daily, the struggle has always been very real.
Understanding gaming addiction
Before you can overcome an addiction or unhealthy pattern of behaviour, it’s crucial that you first acknowledge what you’re up against and learn to identify the signs that you’re losing control. It may be glaringly obvious to you that you have a gaming addiction, yet there are also many people who are totally unaware of the fact that they have a problem and likely even more who have a sense that their passion for gaming is morphing into something unhealthy but don’t really know what to do about it.
If it’s any consolation, even the experts haven’t yet agreed that gaming addiction is a ‘real’ thing. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO), added “gaming disorder” to it’s medical reference book. The American Psychiatry Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (often referred to as the ‘bible’ of psychology), however, hasn’t gone as far. While it includes guidance on the warning signs of “problem video gaming”, the only activity related addiction currently listed in the guide is gambling. Perhaps the authors aren’t really up to speed on the use of persuasive design and the fact that many tech companies have taken their strategies straight from the gambling industry’s playbook?
Signs of gaming addiction
In any case, the labels aren’t the most important thing to focus on. Whether it’s a problem, disorder or addiction, just about everyone now seems to agree that excessive gaming can be harmful to our health, productivity and relationships.
Luckily, there are warning signals you can look out for if you’re unsure whether you actually have a gaming addiction or not. Displaying one or two of these is not necessarily cause for concern, but if you display five or more in the space of a year, your relationship with video games is likely problematic. Things to look out for include:
- You think about gaming all or a lot of the time.
- You feel bad or down when multiple hours or days pass in which you are unable to play games.
- You need to spend more and more time playing to enjoy yourself.
- Playing games isn’t actually that enjoyable and sometimes you’re not even sure why you’re doing it.
- You find it extremely difficult to stop playing and/or reduce your overall time spent gaming.
- You have problems at work, school or home that are caused by your gaming habit.
- You have problems with your relationships because of gaming.
- You find yourself lying to people or avoiding your responsibilities so that you can spend more time gaming.
- You use gaming to ease or block out bad moods and negative feelings.
- You continue gaming despite experiencing some or all of the above issues.
Overcoming gaming addiction
Overcoming a bad habit or addiction is never an easy task. The general rule of thumb is that it takes around 60 days to create or break a habit. This means that initially you’ll need to remain conscious and disciplined no matter what method(s) you choose to help you overcome your gaming addiction.
Below we’ll discuss various strategies that you can make use of. It’s possible to combine all of them, but you can also mix and match or even try them one at a time until something sticks. Ultimately, it’s up to you to analyse (honestly) the extent of your problem and then decide which strategies are are best for you. Remember, nothing you try will end your gaming addiction if you don’t genuinely have the will and intention to make a change. If you do, here are some ideas for how to make it happen:
1. Establish a new routine
One of the most powerful ways to break the cycle of addiction is to change your routine. At the end of the Vietnam War over 20% of US soldiers self-identified as heroin addicts. People began to panic at the thought that thousands of junkies with military training were about to show up on their doorsteps and start causing chaos. Yet it turns out there was nothing to worry about. Despite the fact that heroin is one of the most addictive substances known to man, less than 5% of these soldiers relapsed into addiction. So, how did this happen?
We now know that addiction of any kind is heavily linked to circumstance, mindset and routine. When the soldiers returned home, all of these factors changed. Once they were disconnected from the circumstances that drove them to become addicted, the Vietnam veterans largely just went back to their old lives or began creating new ones. This was a foundational lesson for addiction researchers and psychiatrists – it can be for you as well. Making changes to your routine, mindset and general circumstances is one of the most powerful tools you have in your battle to overcome your gaming addiction.
Find new hobbies, do more exercise, try to also socialise with people who are not interested in gaming. Spending more time outside the house, especially close to nature, not only distances you physically from your tech (leave your portable gaming devices at home and delete your mobile phone games!), but it also helps you to reconnect with the magic of the physical world that you have been neglecting for the admittedly also extremely cool digital one.
2. Seek help
Many of us are loathe to admit that we may need an intervention from an external source. After all, we all want to believe that we are in control of our own destinies. Yet there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, our social constructs and ability to work together is one of the primary reasons for our incredible success as a species.
If you’re struggling to face up to your gaming addiction alone, there is no shame in seeking out the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, spiritual healer, life coach or any kind of mentor that can guide you on your journey and provide you with tools that will empower you to break your habit.
It’s also a great idea to speak to your family and friends. Tell them that you’re trying to overcome a gaming addiction and you need their help.
This can come in both the form of moral support and reminders about your commitments from non-gamers, and asking your gamer friends to respect your decision by not pushing you to play excessively and agreeing to only play with you at pre-arranged times.
3. Set limits on your access to games
Let’s be brutally honest, one of the reasons you have a gaming addiction is because you struggle with willpower and have, at least until this point, failed to take proactive steps to make a change. Sometimes, force is required. Luckily, it’s not 1952 and nobody is talking about sending people to military school so that they can have the gamer beaten out of them. Today, there are far more subtle and much more effective ways to force yourself (or your kids) to change.
It’s no longer practical to advise someone to forget about the computer and rather work in a notebook or on a chalkboard. We all need the internet, with it’s search engines, email services and real-time calendar updates, to go about our daily business and do our work effectively.Fortunately, setting hard physical limits on gaming is not only possible, it’s actually quite easy to do. They’re called focus apps for a reason folks, and you’re reading the blog of one such program right now.
FocusMe is an all-in-one digital solution that helps to you to place hard limits on unwanted digital distractions. We’re not going to lie to you and say there aren’t other programs out there that offer the same or similar services. In fact, a quick visit to the Apple or Play stores will turn up a smorgasbord of free options. However, we stand steadfastly behind our claim that FocusMe is the most powerful digital productivity tool currently on the market.
What makes FocusMe different?
If you’re serious about beating digital distractions and improving your productivity, look no further. Don’t take our word for it though. Check out reliable third-party reviews by our many satisfied users to see what FocusMe can do for you. If you’re ready to get serious about beating your gaming addiction, simply click the big shiny button below and we’ll guide you every step of the way!