CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Black Friday is upon us and the holiday gift giving season. Video games and video game consoles are some of the most popular gifts to buy. Although, they can be addictive.
“It’s like anything else, everything in moderation,” Dr. Chris Leeth said.
Dr. Chris Leeth is an assistant professor of counselor education and a gaming specialist at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
He’s currently working on helping counselors and other professionals understand internet addictive disorder.
“Have you experienced any consequences or problems because of your use. And, it can range from I was late to class, I was late to work, I missed an assignment because I was up all night on the internet or gaming to more severe things,” he said.
For parents, Leeth suggests they monitor how much time their children spend playing video games. He said if they have a hard time pulling away, they throw temper tantrums and are counting down until they play again, they may have a problem.
“Parents watching it and helping your children understand that this shouldn’t be the center of your life,” Leeth said. “It can be a hobby, it can be a past time and things like that, but when it starts interfering then we talk about pulling back and maybe incentivizing getting things done and gaming comes after.”
Through his work as a counselor, Leeth said he saw this more often in college students. It’s not neglecting hygiene that’s the biggest issue, although that is important. It’s when their relationships break down because of their use.
“There’s a disconnect and that’s what I see a lot of. Where the person who’s gaming doesn’t understand, your partner’s asking you, saying I need you, I want you to be in my life. I want you to be in this relationship. And the other partner looking at it, you care more about your games than you care about me.”
Leeth preaches that video games are not inherently bad. People play games for all different reasons. For Leeth, he plays because it relaxes him. Some people play to actually make connections and relationships with people playing the game online.
In the last decade, video games have even become a profession. For those that have the goal of being a professional, they can still experience addictive tendencies.
“The goal itself is not wrong. It’s the path to the goal that can be problematic,” Leeth said. “And so, helping them understand what’s realistic, what are the steps you can take to achieve that professional goal of of being an Esports competitor, while also maintaining the other values in your life.”
Addictive gamers can experience the same things people with other addictions experience, Leeth said. These are other warning signs to look out for.
“If you need to start your day off with a drink, if you’re tired of or annoyed about arguing and talking about your drinking, if you feel guilt or you’re hiding it then yeah. These are all signs of an addiction,” Leeth said.
Just like any addiction, you can get help by speaking with a counselor or therapist.