Video games have been the source of debate for many reasons, including violence, influence on teenagers, and amount of time spent playing. So, are teens spending too much time playing video games? If so, how do we define how much is too much? We’ll explore how video games can affect teenagers and whether they pose a real threat.


Are teenagers playing too many video games?

Problematic video game play is similar to impulse control disorders, among which include compulsive shopping, gambling or sex. The amount of “healthy” video game play is subjective, as scientists are working to do more research to establish more clear parameters, but we do have some general guidelines to follow. To determine if one may have a video game problem, look for these symptoms:

  • Relief or pleasure after gaming
  • Cravings and urges before taking part in video gaming
  • Continued gaming despite negative consequences

Defining a video game addiction must be done by professionals, rather than amateurs, and especially not by the teenager’s parents. This is because the parent’s point of view may be skewed to begin with. Teens have often have complicated relationships with parents, so it’s possible parents will see a problem even when one doesn’t exist. But, to compare gaming times to those of others, parents can look at these averages of weekly video game play of a group of 4,000 teens in Connecticut public schools:

  • 61% — less than 7 hours
  • 19% — between 7-14 hours
  • 9% — between 15-20 hours
  • 11% — over 20 hours

Doctors, scientists, and researchers have found little evidence to prove recreational video game play by itself has any negative consequences. But, what is considered a normal amount of video game play? There is no uniform answer to this, but a recent study has shown pathological gaming can be defined as gaming anywhere between 31-38 hours per week. Research has also shown teens who play more than 3 hours of video games per day are more likely to use drugs, smoke cigarettes, or engage in fighting. While this doesn’t mean they have a gaming addiction, it does make them more at risk of experiencing negative consequences as a direct result of video gaming.

Consider the teen’s quality of life outside of gaming as well—are they comfortable in social settings, do they enjoy spending time doing other physical activities, etc. Dealing with any type of addiction is difficult, especially when it’s a controversial subject. Contact Treatment Now for help with any questions regarding video game addiction.

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