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When online gaming takes over your life

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

Teen chained to gaming console in a dark room

Gaming addiction is a real thing!

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

For most people gaming is not a problem and may never be one.

But for a very small amount of people 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 your life.

It’s important to recognise the warning signs and start to make a change.

Why is online gaming so addictive?

Most online games are designed to keep you hooked or might meet some needs that you’re not getting in real life. Some things games do to keep you hooked or meet your needs include:

Rewarding you for playing

Helping you to relax or have fun

Connecting you to a community

Making you feel part of a team

Helping you cope with problems

Giving you a sense of belonging

Creating a unique identity or profile

Helping you dull emotional or physical pain

Giving you a sense of achievement or success

Providing you with a purpose or goals to work towards

Giving you an escape from stress or issues in your life

Creating an environment where you feel safe and in control

Giving you the thrill of being in a fantasy world or a part of a complex story

Allowing in-game purchases to keep you online or to give you an advantage so you keep playing

"Two years ago I had a little bit of a rough time, but day by day it got better."


"Gaming became the most important thing in my life and it was pretty much all I was doing to the point it was affecting my health, sleep, friendships, everything!"

When gaming starts to become a problem

It’s not really about how much you play, it’s about how much gaming is causing you distress and how much it’s impacting your life. If it’s affecting any of these areas of your life it might be a problem:

  • Family
  • School
  • Friendships
  • Sleep & eating habits
  • Work
  • Money
  • Mental health
  • Physical health 
Two teens texting on a mobile, having a conversation about gaming addiction

What are the warning signs?

Some signs that your gaming might become a problem are:

Playing even though you’re no longer enjoying it

Not being able to quit or play less, even when you want to

Needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good

Continuing to play even though it’s causing you problems

Having problems at school, home or work because of your gaming

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

Using gaming to forget or cope with problems or negative feelings

Lying to people close to you about how much time you spend playing

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

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

Thinking about gaming all the time, even when you’re not playing

Having lost friends, a job or a school opportunity because of gaming

Losing interest or not wanting to do other things that you used to enjoy or like

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

If you experience a few of the above warning signs, you may have a problem with gaming. It’s important to seek help.

If you’re worried about your gaming

It’s ok to reach out for support!

If you ever feel that you’re gaming more than you would like, that your gaming is negatively affecting your mood or that you don't have as much control over your gaming as you would like, then it may be worth seeking some support. 

Give us a call, send us an email or talk to us on WebChat.

This content was last reviewed 15/07/2019

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