It’s 3 a.m. And instead of getting the rest you need for a workday that starts in three hours, you’re in front of your computer playing Call of Duty and figuring out what excuse you’ll give your boss for being late again. Or maybe it’s the tenth time you’ve picked up your child late from daycare because you just couldn’t tear yourself away from Farmville or Words with Friends.
You may think that video game addiction is something that only affects teenagers, but more and more adult cases are showing up these days as well.
According to a Pew research study from 2008, 53% of adults play video games of some kind. With the explosion in popularity of gaming apps for smartphones and social media, it would be almost impossible to believe that number hasn’t increased steadily since then. For some, the pressures and responsibilities of the real world make video games seem like a welcome escape. Take the example of former NFL player Quinn Pitcock. The defensive lineman was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 but had a hard time making the transition to the NFL and adjusting to life in a new city. Video games became his way to cope, and he retired from the league after just one season, spending up to 18 hours a day gaming.
So what are the signs of video game addiction in adults? Like most addictions, a person will usually lie about how much time they spend doing it. If you only feel happy or satisfied when you’re playing, and get angry or depressed when you have to stop, that could be a sign of a problem as well. Physical symptoms can include migraines, back and neck aches, difficulty sleeping, dry eyes, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Neglecting things like eating, personal hygiene, work, and household responsibilities are also warning signs to look out for.
As with other addictions, video game addiction is usually the symptom of a larger problem such as depression. Statistics show that overuse of the internet in a way that interferes with daily life and healthy relationships is increasingly common, with gaming accounting for a significant portion of those affected. If you or someone you know shows any of these signs, it might not be a bad idea to consult a professional. Video games can go from a fun distraction to something out of your control for gamers of any age.