Computer addiction or just a hobby. How to recognize it?

The term “computer addiction” was coined in 1990. Psychologists classify this harmful habit as a kind of emotional “addiction” caused by technical means.

The essence of computer addiction is that the computer begins to control a person. Over time the process, not the result of the game becomes important to the addicted person. The process of playing loses control over time.

The mechanism of the impact of games on the brain is very simple. In fact, they act like drugs – affect the body, forcing it to release the pleasure hormone called endorphin. Except that while drugs “achieve” the release of this substance through chemical reactions, games are more easily accepted by the body, because the endorphin is released “voluntarily,” based on the excitement, joys from victories and other successes and other experiences experienced by the person.

Child psychiatrists distinguish the following leading causes influencing the formation of computer and Internet game addiction in teenagers.

A child’s computer addiction is just a highly visible symptom, a marker of the fact that we don’t know enough about what is going on with the child, how he lives in this world, his problems and desires.


Loss of control over time.The first sign of addiction is a simple fact: it seems that just sat down to play, and several hours have already passed. So the game is addictive, and therefore the interest in the real world is falling.

Unquenchable thirst for the game.The next symptom can also clearly notice: the constant thoughts about the game. Even when you sit down to play for a few hours, you are still not enough and want more. Even ready to give up eating, walking, socializing – just to play your favorite toy.

The time spent playing is growing. If before it was enough for a couple of hours to satisfy “the thirst,” now it may not be enough and 5 hours. In the end, all free and non-free time will be given to the game.

The lack of a daily regimen. The player may go to bed in the morning and sleep for only a few hours. After waking up instead of exercising, jogging in the morning, he goes back to the computer. He eats irregularly, and when he is forced or himself will not die of hunger.

A shift in priorities (development of irresponsibility).The game so penetrates the consciousness of the computer gamer that the real stuff goes into the background. He does not care about what is going on around him. Children are isolated from society and consider school, homework and walks a waste of time.

Denial of real communication. Almost all computer addicted people, do not want to communicate and make contact in reality.

Lack of any other interests. We all have our hobbies: sports, shopping, crafts, cars, etc. However, a person who is addicted to PC games does not have all of these. With him it is difficult to find common topics of conversation, and attempts to captivate – to nothing.

The manifestation of aggression. Another very common symptom. Almost every player becomes very aggressive. Throws tantrums or scandals with or without cause. This is especially noticeable when he doesn’t succeed or doesn’t have access to the game.

Unstable psyche, lack of daily routine, physical activity and poor nutrition lead to sleep problems. Insomnia, headaches, and poor sleep occur. A person may even get 8-10 hours of sleep, but will feel “broken” and tired.

Fatigue can cause even a simple trip to the store or doing homework on the day off. The player is very sluggish, both mentally and physically.

Pain in the lower back and shoulders. Often tormented by pain in the back area, they are associated with the constant presence of the body in a sitting position, without any activity.

Psychologists distinguish the following classification of computer games according to the degree of danger.

Non-role-playing computer games, i.e. the formation of addiction and the influence of games on a person’s personality are not so pronounced. The main motivations are the excitement of achieving a goal, “passing” the game and/or scoring points. The player does not assume the role of a computer character (the influence of games on the personality is not as pronounced).

Children and adolescents need self-expression. In the absence of other means of expressing their thoughts and energy, they turn to the computer and computer games, which create the illusion of a reality of limitless possibilities, devoid of responsibility.

This illusion has a devastating effect on the psyche

Stages of computer game addiction formation:

The stage of mild infatuation.There is interest in the plot of the game, there is correlation of himself with the main character, like graphics, music, the dynamics of the game.

The specifics of the stage is that playing the computer is situational, rather than systematic. The steady need for a game is not generated yet, the process of a game is not a significant value for the person

The infatuation stage. Game becomes systematic and becomes a way of escape from reality and substitution of meaningful needs. If there is no opportunity to sit down for a favorite game, the person resorts to various active actions to get their own way.

Stage of dependence – At this stage there are serious changes in the value and semantic sphere of the addict. Changes in self-awareness and self-esteem occur. The game completely replaces the real world.

This is the last and final stage of computer addiction. It is characterized by the fading of the person’s gaming activity. The player keeps a distance from the computer, but he can not completely break away from the already established and rooted need for virtual reality. This period can last for a long time, and the level of reduction of uncontrollable craving will be considered important. It should be noted that a new surge of gaming activity is possible due to the appearance of new games. After the game is comprehended, there is a return of craving to its original level.

Most of today’s computer game developers do their best to ensure that the transition to the attachment stage does not occur.

The main task of game developers is to make sure that the gamer demonstrates the necessary stereotype of behavior.

Game makers base their concepts on the work of psychologist Skinner, who showed that human behavior can be controlled by simple stimuli and a system of rewards.

To test his theories, Skinner invented a special device, later named the Skinner Camera after him. This device is a cage for a small animal, such as a rat, in which there is a button. Pressing the button, the rat gets a reward in the form of pieces of dry food.

In just about every game created in the last 25 years, you’ve had to collect some sort of item or bonus.

This fact in itself is no big deal.

The danger is that the gamer perceives these items as real and appreciates them regardless of how important they are to the game’s objectives.

Principles of addiction formation by game makers.

Games that are profitable to sell are built by manufacturers on the principle of reinforcing rewards.

This online shooters (shooters – team or single-player battles), where there is an endless growth of experience of the player, ranks, rating, upgrading weapons.

This is an online quest where you have to constantly look for items and infinitely pump your character to fight with other characters in the game.

Such games are built on the reflex of reinforcement in the form of constant bonuses and improvements to combat ammunition, magic and charisma. The player, in such a game does not notice that in fact he is just a mouse subject with a reflex to press the button for a bonus (reinforcement). The developers are well aware that the items they force gamers to collect are the same pieces of dry food that the rats in Skinner’s cell receive.

The gamer can’t stop, because all the time there is the illusion that it is possible to achieve even more status in the game, to collect even more bonuses. With each level the number of bonuses decreases, but all the time the player has the hope that “now will get lucky.

A child’s healthy interest in the computer

If a child, sitting at the computer, learns languages and math, history and countries, plays chess and other traditional games, learns to create texts and presentations, takes pictures, studies remotely with a tutor, watches cartoons and movies – what’s wrong with that?

There is a clear distinction between educational games that are good for the child to play, and games that keep the monitor, luring money, causing aggression, violence, indifference to the social environment.

Normally, a good game develops erudition, thinking, memory. With the help of a well-designed game can teach a child any school subject and such game-technical teaching methods exist.

What should not be in games for children:

– The game should not take more than 3 hours to pass, ie, should be logically complete.

– The game should not provoke the player to buy virtual upgrades, without which it is impossible to win.

– The game should not contain scenes of violence and cruelty.

– The game should not contain scenes of antisocial and criminal behavior.

And this is not a complete list.

It is also important to set a time limit for the game. Do not let them eat at the computer.

And most importantly – do not show your children examples of regular pastime for the game.

Computer addiction of a child – it’s just a highly visible symptom, a marker of the fact that we do not know well enough what happens to the child, how he lives in this world, his problems and desires.

Signs of gaming addiction requiring treatment

Addiction to computer games is divided into two groups: the craving for regular computer games and addiction to online games. Symptoms, at the appearance of which is worth thinking about the need for treatment, expressed in a change in human behavior. Some specific signs help to distinguish an addicted gamer from an ordinary gamer:

An obsessive urge to check for game updates;

The constant increase in the time spent in front of the computer;

The constant increase in monetary spending on paid games and add-ons;

significantly improved mood from games and sharply spoiled when they are unavailable;

nothing can distract the addict from the computer game;

showing aggression toward distractions;

neglecting all important matters in favor of games;

Inability to somehow plan their time;

a complete refusal to communicate with real friends, replacing them with virtual companions;

disregard of own health, hygiene and other personal factors in favor of the same entertainment.

The last two points are particularly serious symptoms. With this kind of behavior in a gambler, treatment is a must. However, with less dangerous symptoms, it is also desirable, but perhaps a simple conversation with family and friends can solve the problem.

Prevention of game addiction

find out what a person likes about virtual life and what does not suit him/her in real life;

To avoid sharp and negative criticism of hobbies of the gamer, to express the opinion as softly as possible;

Consult a psychologist and offer the person addicted to computer games a meeting with a specialist;

Understand the essence and process of the person’s favorite games, this will help to go on rapprochement and establish contact;

Limit the gambler’s access to movies, books and games based on violence and cruelty, this will help to avoid an increase in attacks of aggression.

A trip to nature.As soon as you feel that there is free time on the weekend, you immediately plan a trip to nature: mushroom picking, picnics, relaxing on the beach, skiing and similar activities.

Fun holidays.Computer games leave a lot of emotions, to replace this portion of emotion can fun events: birthdays of friends, new year, professional holidays, etc.

Active lifestyle.Tasting active life, hardly want to go back to the computer and sit in the four walls.

Achievement of goals.In the game we always achieve some kind of development, however, the same development we can achieve in life: to become an excellent student at school, to achieve promotion, to achieve success in sports, etc.

10 ways to get rid of the addiction

Treatment of addiction to computer games is a comprehensive approach, which includes working on a change in lifestyle. It will not go away as quickly as you would like. And, naturally, the rejection will be quite painful. So read the methods carefully and apply them.

Gradually reduce the time you spend playing games. It is almost impossible for an avid gamer to give up games at once and completely, so you should start by gradually reducing the time you spend in front of the computer. Try to play one less hour a day every week.

To understand the dangers of this addiction, you need to understand the dangers of the situation.

Prove to yourself or to the addict that if you stop playing, you will get much more than you have now: a healthy appearance, popularity in school, a promising job, regular rest, good health, etc.

Find an alternative.Another important point, find a replacement for computer games. You have to understand that computer addiction is mostly emotional and has grown into a compulsive habit (to come from school or work, to sit at the computer and get up only when you fall asleep at the keyboard). Substitute for the first time can be TV, watching movies, reading books and board games with friends.

Start spending more time outside the house.

Increase physical activity. Get outdoors more often.

Note the results.Keep a diary, every day, noting in it how many hours you checked in for games. Reducing the time at the PC, you will see results and there will be an urge to work on yourself further.

Avoid the society of gamers

Get support from loved ones.And the last, but very important point. No one is able to help overcome the addiction to computer games, as friends and family. Let them spend more time with you, helping you to forget this bad habit.

Signs of addiction:

Same action.

There is withdrawal

Other areas of life are suffering

Showing aggression on both sides

Resentment if not given

Blackmail, violence ensues

Lack of criticism, no control

Ignoring other needs (sleep, food)

Inadequate behavior

Physiological changes.

Addiction syndrome Considered:


change of lifestyle

narrowing of interests

impairment of the ability to regulate time

loss of productivity

narrowing of the circle of communication

impairment of ethics

Decreased mood, anxiety, boredom, lethargy when cessation

What can a parent give?


affection, tactile contact


show the variety of life

Take the computer as an ally.