Below are listed the most commonly reported negative consequences of excessive practice reported by people with excessive practice and their families and friends. However, these consequences depend primarily on the degree of severity of the problem and the individual’s personal situation. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether the aspects listed below are consequences of the practice, or whether they are pre-existing vulnerabilities (e.g., academic difficulties may precede intensive gambling and worsen with it):
- Need to spend more and more time on the internet or play video games
- Feeling of emptiness when disconnected
- Anxiety/depressive symptoms
- Inability to stop
- Conflicts with the close entourage when the latter tries to control/prohibit media use
- Lying and cheating about his practice
- Abandonment of other leisure activities
- Endangerment of significant relationships (marital separation, distance from family or friends)
- Lack of sleep or irregular sleep/fatigability
- Lack of appetite/weight loss or gain, malnutrition/muscle wasting
- Chronic headaches / visual fatigue / auditory hallucinations
- Carpal tunnel syndrome/back pain
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Dizziness / Seizures
- Decrease in performance
- Failure, school break-up, dismissal
Do video games make you violent?
This question is of particular concern to parents. It is often addressed in a caricatured way by the media on the bangs of dramas recounting acts of extreme violence (hostage-taking, shootings). Indeed, it is then reported that the person was adept or “addicted” to video games with violent content and that difficulties and relational tensions between family members were present. Without the causality being elucidated, various investigations suggest a link between violent behavior and intensive video game use. For example, it has been shown that exposure to video games with violent content can increase aggressive thinking.
However, these observations should be taken with caution, as other results indicate both a lack of a link between aggression and exposure to video games and tenuous links that are surpassed by other more influential social or family factors. The practice of video games can also be seen as a message aimed at getting the adult to react, at a time when adolescents are looking for affirmation and autonomy. Playing a game with violent content may also provide important information about the gambler’s emotional state and indicate a need to channel anger; the effect may then be more protective, reducing rather than increasing the risk of violence. Other studies have shown that parents and others may be misinformed about their children’s favorite video game content. Taking an interest in your child’s games allows you to get a clearer idea of the content they carry, to determine whether they seem age-appropriate, and to open a dialogue.
Tools for control the use of video games
There is no “ready-made” solution. It is up to each person to identify and test his or her own strategies, according to his or her context and objectives. Experience shows that usually prohibiting or totally prohibiting oneself access to the game and/or the internet is not realistic.
Below is a list of possible strategies:
- Paying attention to your physiological signs (hunger, fatigue) and respect them,
- Set a number of goals to be achieved in the game and then stop,
- Set breaks beforehand,
- Define a maximum duration of use (per day and/or per month). per week),
- Control the time spent in front of the screen by keeping a show next to you; if necessary, program an alarm,
- Asking a third party to stop the activity after a pre-determined time,
- Place the screen in a common area of the home,
- Plan other stimulating and entertaining activities,
- Talk to trusted people about what gambling/internet gambling gives us, both positive and negative implications,
- When you live with several people (couple, family), set together with rules concerning the use of the screens (location of the screens, moments without screens, time, etc.). turning off the screens in the evening, etc.),
- In case of persistent difficulty, or when difficulty controlling gambling/internet gambling is associated with emotional, social, family, school, or work difficulties, do not hesitate to seek help from
How to react towards a relative who has an excessive practice of video games?
Parents, spouses and family members in general are often the first to worry about possible excessive use of video games or the Internet. They sometimes express feeling overwhelmed by this type of media. This can be translated by fears related to the supposed effects of the Internet or video games: fear that the person does not make the difference between the real world and the virtual world, that he or she will destructure and desocialize himself or herself, that he or she will meet bad people, fear of an unhealthy identification with video game characters, of a transposition of the violence of certain games into reality. Sometimes, those around them observe changes in the gambler’s or Internet user’s behaviour with concern: an increase in the time spent in front of the screens, but also withdrawal, irritability, disinvestment in social and school/professional activities.
Several experts have provided practical advice for parents. Some of the fears expressed by parents are related to a lack of knowledge about video games or activities on the Internet. To overcome this, it is advisable to inform oneself about the content of games or activities on the Internet, for example by asking the player or Internet user to discover his virtual world live; this can be an opportunity to establish a dialogue around these activities, to play them down. Parents should also pay attention to the content of video games and web pages visited by their children. The PEGI standards help to get an idea of which games are suitable for the age of their children.
It is also recommended to communicate with them about the potential benefits and risks of the Internet. Experts advise to set limits on the use of video games and the Internet and to encourage collective rather than individual practice. What about family and friends of adult gamblers? In situations where gambling activity on the Internet is problematic, it seems important to remember that those around the gambler/internet user do not have the capacity to change the gambler’s behavior. Change can only come from the person him/herself. However, experience shows that some attitudes tend to maintain or even worsen the problem, while others seem to promote change.
Whenever possible, it is best to avoid watching the person, or trying to control his or her behavior; it is also best to avoid making excuses for the person, or trying to protect the person by trying to reduce the consequences of his or her actions. A more constructive attitude is to calmly explain the consequences of one’s behavior with video games or the Internet to the person and to let the person take responsibility for his or her actions. At the same time, it is important for family and friends to focus on themselves and try to restore balance in their own lives. Finally, it should be remembered that the difficulties linked to the use of video games or the Internet are most often transitory and are frequently the expression of a crisis (family, marital, school, professional or other). Do not hesitate to call upon professionals if necessary.