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Should I be worried about gaming addiction?

Worried that gaming is becoming a problem for your child? Here’s what you need to know about gaming addiction.

Child staring at ipad, while two parents try to get her attention by tapping her shoulder and blowing an air horn.

Gaming addiction can be a concern

It can happen playing any game - online, offline, digital or video

For most kids gaming is not a problem and may never be one. But for a very small amount of kids it may become a problem or an addiction.

Research is looking into whether this is an actual disorder (Gaming Disorder).

The difference between healthy gaming and addiction is the negative impact it is having on their life.

It’s important to recognise the warning signs and support your child to make a change.

It’s easy for kids to get absorbed in a game for hours and neglect chores or homework because of this; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have an addiction. - Sky, Parentline counsellor

When does gaming start to become a problem?

It’s not really about how much they play; it’s about how much distress it is causing them or how much it’s impacting on their life. If it’s taking over any of these areas of their life, gaming might be a problem:

  • Family
  • Friendships
  • School/study
  • Eating habits
  • Sleeping habits
  • Work/career
  • Money/finances
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Personal hygiene

What are the warning signs?

Some signs to watch out for that indicate gaming might become a problem for your child are:

Needing to spend more and more time playing to satisfy the urge

Using gaming to relieve or cope with problems or negative feelings

Feeling unable to focus on other activities when they’re not gaming

Having problems or arguments with family, friends, or their partner

Preoccupation with gaming, even when they’re not playing

Continuing to play even though it’s causing them problems

Playing even though they’re no longer enjoying it

Inability to reduce playing or unsuccessful attempts to quit

Having problems at home, school, work or with study because of gaming

Neglecting responsibilities and activities that are important or they enjoy

Lying to people they’re close to about how much time they spend playing

Having risked or lost friends, a job or an opportunity because of gaming

Feeling sad, angry, moody, anxious or irritable when they can’t play

Craving more time to play to get game items, make progress or improve their status

Talk to them about your worries — starting a conversation can encourage them to open up to you. - eSafety

Worried that your child has a problem with gaming?

Support is always available for you and your family

If your child needs support encourage them to talk to a Kids Helpline counsellor. They can call us, start a WebChat or email us today.

Needing support to manage your child’s gaming habits? Try calling Parentline in your State or Territory for more support and guidance on this issue.


This content was last reviewed 03/09/2019

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