Gaming Addiction in Children: Early Signs and How to Treat It?

Video games are one of the mainstream activities that people enjoy during their free time. It is because within a few decades, we have moved from arcade games to online games really quickly, and it all becomes so realistic and captivating that users feel euphoric.

As a result, the use of online games has skyrocketed within a relatively short period of time. For example, according to Statista, as of 2021.

The number of people playing games on their mobile phones constitutes approximately 37% population of the UK, the highest rate ever reported. Also, in 2021, people addicted to games spent over 2.7 billion British pounds on online and digital games.

Among game-addicted people, children face difficulty controlling their gaming habits. And why not? With an ever-growing multitude of platforms, such as Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Smartphones, it feels impossible to prevent children from playing games.

As a result, children become so obsessed with games that it interferes with their school, relationships, and even self-care.

This loss of control over one’s electronic and internet gaming habits is called gaming addiction. Also, researchers are still investigating whether to include gaming addiction in the psychiatric disorder category.

This article will discuss the signs and effects of gaming addiction in children and how to overcome it. In addition, gaming addiction treatment methods ensure possible recovery.

Gaming Addiction in Children: Early Signs and How to Treat It?-Gaming Addiction in Children

Common Symptoms of Gaming Addiction

A few most common symptoms of gaming addiction are:

  • An inability to stop playing
  • Strong craving to play
  • Poor performance in school
  • Skipping previously enjoyed activities
  • A feeling of euphoria while playing
  • Feeling empty, depressed, and irritable
  • Lying about playing
  • Using games to relieve negative moods or avoid stress
  • Decline in personal hygiene due to excessive time spent gaming

If an individual tries quitting playing games, they may experience a series of withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Intense cravings
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings

Also, children remain at a higher risk of developing game addiction. These risk factors may include the following:

  • Low self-control
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Poor self-mastery
  • Aggression
  • Impulsivity
  • Social exclusion
  • Poor parent-child attachment quality
  • Less control of one’s external environment
  • Early Signs of Game Addiction in Children

1. Pre-Occupation with Video Games

One of the early signs of gaming addiction in children is when they always think about previous gaming activity or when they anticipate playing the next game.

And because gaming culture is so popular among children, it becomes difficult to know what constitutes playing them for “too long”. In other words, games have become the dominant activity in children’s life.

2. Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are another sign of an unhealthy relationship between your child with the video games. When you remove the access, your child may retaliate by being anxious, sad, hostile, irritable or angry.

3. Building up Tolerance

Tolerance is something that builds up when you are doing anything in an amount than required. For example, if an alcohol addict consumes alcohol in higher amounts to get the desired buzz, they are said to have an alcohol tolerance.

Likewise, if your child is playing video games excessively to feel satisfied, it is a sign that they have built up a tolerance.

4. Giving up Hobbies or Other Activities

Most addicts lose control of their lives and give up their hobbies to engage in the addiction. So if you feel your child is often making excuses to go out to play, see their friends, or complete the homework to play video games, it is a sign that they may have developed an addiction.

5. Deceiving Family Members

Another sign of game addiction in children is if your child tries to hide the time they have spent playing games or sneak access behind your back.

Finally, they have an addiction if they lie about playing games despite knowing they shouldn’t be.

How to Treat Gaming Addiction?
Psychotherapy is the primary mode of treatment for gaming addiction. It can help children identify harmful thoughts and behaviours and change them for good. Psychotherapy that may help in gaming addiction treatment includes:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): A type of psychotherapy, CBT help become aware of negative thinking and situations so that you can respond to them more effectively.

In this therapy, the patient works with a therapist or counsellor in a structured way through one-on-one or group counselling sessions. The children will also learn to control their emotions and replace negative thought patterns with healthier ones.

Family Therapy: Another form of gaming addiction treatment, family therapy involves the family members or relatives of the patient. In this therapy, the counsellors teach parents, siblings, or relatives about the gaming disorder and help them create a more stable environment at home for children.

Group Therapy: Group therapy allows children to interact with their peers at the rehab facility. When they discuss their problems with someone who understands them, it becomes easier for a therapist to lead them towards recovery.

Apart from these three forms of therapy, psychiatrists also recommend taking medications in case your child has an underlying mental disorder, such as anxiety or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Gaming addiction is characterized by experiencing reduced control over gaming habits. And children are more prone to develop this addiction.

For example, if you notice your child be more excited around games and feel anxious or depressed when they don’t get to play them, it may be an early sign of gaming addiction in children.

Also, broken relationships, incomplete homework, or poor performance at school indicate that your child needs help. However, various treatment options can help your children attain sobriety.

Gaming addiction treatment therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.

While these therapies are enough for children to make sensible decisions, psychiatrists may also recommend medications in severe cases. You can also contact the nearest rehabs for gaming addiction in the UK for professional help.

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