A hand of a person battling video game addiction tied to a gaming console

Artwork by Aavantikaa Wassan

A hand of a person battling video game addiction tied to a gaming console

Video Game Addiction: Essential Information You Need

Medically reviewed by

Written by Aditi Sahu

Enjoying hobbies is beneficial, but when does an enjoyable activity turn into an addiction? This is a critical question that experts are exploring, particularly concerning video gaming. Although video games have been popular for nearly half a century, research into their potential harms is still developing. There's an ongoing debate among different expert groups about whether excessive gaming should be officially recognized as an addiction, reflecting the complexities and evolving understanding of the issue. In this blog, we will delve deeper into what constitutes online gaming addiction, discuss its signs and impacts, and explore strategies for managing and overcoming it.

The Truth about Gaming Addiction

India has witnessed a massive technological leap in the last ten years. With affordable smartphones and a cheaper internet connection, access to gaming platforms, websites, and social media has increased the craze for gaming amongst kids and youngsters. What might look like a ‘favourite pastime may actually be an obsession that you might be completely unaware of. Having said that, it is not a defined medical condition yet (unlike other addictions like alcohol), thus making it a controversial topic for researchers and scientists. 

Though it may take more time for science to categorise gaming disorders as ‘addictions,’ it is an undeniable fact that many young kids are losing themselves in the fictional world of gaming. Talking purely from a psychological standpoint, it can be considered a threat to the overall well-being, especially for adolescent children. 

What is Gaming Addiction?

WHO defines gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behaviour (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

It is important to notice if your child is losing a sense of reality as a result of being completely engrossed in a digital world of characters. 

Experts widely debate if internet and video gaming addiction should be classified as an addiction or a mental illness. Many researchers argue that video game addiction aligns more closely with behavioral addictions, such as gambling disorders. In these cases, the exhilaration from winning frequently serves as a major motivation for continued play, similar to the thrill gamblers seek. 

Though some experts argue against comparing video gaming to gambling addiction. They note that video games usually don't involve financial risk and require skill and reflexes, unlike gambling, which depends mostly on luck. This difference could influence how video gaming addiction is viewed.

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Gaming Addiction in Children

Gaming Addiction in Children is marked by excessive gameplay, diminishing their interest in academics and social activities. Key signs include irritability without gaming, neglect of hobbies, and poor school performance. Early measures such as setting gaming limits and promoting physical activities are vital. For severe cases, seeking professional counseling can be crucial in helping them regain a healthy lifestyle balance, thus preventing long-term developmental issues.

What Makes Gaming Addictive?

Any app be it gaming or a social media app is designed to make the user spend as much time as possible. You must be familiar with the word dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by our body and plays a major role in making us perceive feelings of excitement, pleasure and well-being. Video games eventually become a major stimulator of dopamine in our body as they instil feelings of thrill, winning and validation in our minds. 

Video games turn into an addiction when an individual resorts to a game to seek these emotions instead of having real-life experiences. (like playing a real sport). They would start refraining from real-life social interactions but would be making online friends with a mindset that the people in their gaming world are the only ones who truly understand them. The sense of belonging one gets from these gaming platforms is what makes it addictive. There have been multiple cases where individuals have been found fantasizing about gaming characters in a way that they start treating them as real-life personalities. 

When should Gaming become a Concern for a Parent? 

“Observation plays a major role in identifying what your younger one is going through in actuality. The number of hours he or she is spending on the game might not be the only parameter that can be considered a red flag,” says Neha Cadabam, Psychologist, Cadabams Group.  You must discern your child's overall routine. Look out for anything that strikes out as an abnormal change. Is your child able to distinguish between the real and the gaming world? Does it affect his/her decision-making or behaviours? These can be some questions, to begin with, while trying to identify signs of video game addiction. 

Few Online Gaming Addiction Symptoms to Watch for

  • Getting extremely angry, irritable, or anxious about not being allowed to play 
  • Not taking care of one’s hygiene and personal wellbeing
  • Neglecting other hobbies 
  • Avoiding meeting friends and close family
  • Feeling restless when not able to play 
  • Zoned out with thoughts of previous or next gaming session
  • Declining performance in studies and other areas of work and responsibility
  • Playing a video game just to relieve stress or any mental burden
  • Isolating from everyone to have more time for gaming 
  • The obsessive need to play and win 
  • Turning to video games as a way to escape negative feelings like guilt or hopelessness.
  • Lying to family members or others about how much time is spent gaming.

Causes of Video Game Addiction?

Researchers are still figuring out what causes video game addiction and why video games can be addictive. They believe that playing and winning games can make the brain release dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel good and motivates us. This release of dopamine is similar to what happens in other addictions like gambling and drug use.

Studies also show that the brains of people addicted to video games look similar to those of people with other types of addiction.

Risk Factors for Gaming Addiction 

Excessive gaming habits can hamper the overall development of the mind and body, especially in the case of teenagers and young adults. Adults who are addicted to gaming also suffer due to long sitting hours, no physical activity, and minimal social interaction. 


 Spending an unregulated amount of time on video games steals away time that must be dedicated to keeping the body and mind healthy. Most gaming addicts grow up with weaker personality types, which result from isolating themselves from the world. 


Gaming obsession not only affects physical and mental health but also disrupts every aspect of your lifestyle—from sleeping and eating habits to hygiene care and much more. Most of the time, attention is drowned in gaming, barely leaving the scope to incorporate other activities that constitute a healthy lifestyle. 


Most gaming addicts develop an introverted or underconfident personality. This is not only toxic for their self-image but also makes it difficult for them to have healthy relationships in the future. Learning to communicate and deal with other individuals is a critical growing-up skill. With barely any social interaction and exposure, such individuals are prone to losing trust in themselves. 


Due to compromised mental and physical health, gaming addicts are more likely to suffer from health issues like low immunity, anxiety, vitamin deficiency, poor metabolism, depression, and even seizures. Many children are seen developing anger issues and choosing violence as a solution to their problems.


Many video game lovers have started dreaming of a career in gaming. While it may be a great career choice for some, it should not be at the cost of one’s education. We live in an extremely competitive environment where it only becomes more difficult for individuals who are addicted to the gaming world. 

Diagnosis of Video Game Addiction

To diagnose video game addiction, also known as internet or online gaming addiction, healthcare providers may refer patients to mental health professionals such as psychologists or psychiatrists. These professionals assess the severity of the gaming behavior and its impact on personal, family, social, educational, or occupational functioning based on established diagnostic criteria. For a diagnosis, these behaviors must significantly impair various aspects of life and typically persist for at least one year.

Video Game Addiction Treatment

The first step is to consult a psychiatrist or child psychologist. The course of therapy can only be derived once the individual suffering from the disorder has been assessed and diagnosed thoroughly. Gaming Addiction Treatments vary from patient to patient depending on the behavioural symptoms and the severity of the problem. 

Treatment for video game addiction typically involves the following approaches:

  • Talk Therapy (Psychotherapy): Several methods are available to identify and modify problematic thoughts and behaviors. This process typically includes working with a mental health professional who provides support, education, and guidance.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A structured, goal-oriented, psychotheraputic treatment that helps you examine and modify your thoughts and behaviors. It focuses on replacing negative and obsessive thoughts with healthier patterns.
  • Parental Counseling: Educates parents on the nature and impact of video game addiction, and equips them with strategies to support their child's recovery. Helps strengthen family dynamics and communication.
  • Medication: If there's an underlying condition like depression or anxiety, medications may be prescribed to manage these symptoms.

Preventive Measures: What can be the First Step 

If you start noticing any of the above-mentioned traits in your child or family member- know that it's never too late. It is always better to start acting at the earliest to prevent things from worsening. Here are a few ways to prevent gaming addiction:

1. Children do what they see around them. Try cultivating an environment where discipline is practiced in a non-forceful manner. Think of new ways of encouraging them to pursue sports or a hobby of their choice.

2. Set the rules right from the beginning. Take charge of how much time your child will spend on video games. Be aware of the games he/ she is playing and the activities he/she is involved in on the internet.

3. Have activities that involve participation. It could be a picnic or a Sunday brunch, movie nights, camping, or even a short trip to the nearby park. With such planned activities, your child will look up to these and be excited to participate.

4. Enroll them in a course. There is a wide range of art forms, sports, or skills that your younger one could master. What’s key here is that it gives your child more opportunities to make new friends and interact with new people while learning and being productive at the same time

5. Communicate. Communication is the most important thing when dealing with an individual who is prone to gaming addiction. The more you try to hear, the more they will trust you. You can only persuade them when your opinion matters to them, and they aren't scared of you.

Get Help with Video Game Addiction at Cadabams

Countless individuals globally enjoy video and internet gaming. While the vast majority do not encounter issues, it's important to be aware that excessive gaming can overshadow everyday responsibilities and affect personal well-being.

If you find that gaming is dominating your life or that of someone you care about, Cadabams Anunitha’s De-Addiction Centre is ready to assist. With over 30 years of experience, our team of specialized experts uses evidence-based approaches and holistic treatment methods to help individuals overcome addiction. Reach out today and start your journey towards a healthier, happier life. Call us at +91 96111 94949.


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How do I know if someone is addicted to video games?

Video game addiction can be recognized by several indicators, such as excessive gaming, ignoring other responsibilities and relationships, feeling withdrawal symptoms when not playing, and persisting in gaming despite adverse effects.

Can video game addiction be treated?

Yes, video game addiction can be treated through various methods, including psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), counseling, and support groups. Treatment focuses on managing the addiction and any underlying issues that contribute to excessive gaming.

Can gaming cause anxiety?

Yes, excessive gaming can lead to increased anxiety. Prolonged periods of intense gaming can heighten stress and anxiety levels, especially if it affects sleep patterns, social interactions, and daily responsibilities. Games that are highly competitive or have demanding environments may also contribute to anxiety symptoms.

How many hours of gaming is considered an addiction?

There isn't a specific number of hours that definitively marks gaming as an addiction, as it more significantly depends on the impact on the individual's life. Addiction is characterized by gaming interfering with personal responsibilities or causing distress. It's the loss of control and continuation despite negative consequences that signal addiction rather than just the number of hours played.

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