Video game addiction in adolescents: what it is and what to do

The development of new technologies is noticeable in the most unexpected areas of life.

While scientific, urban and industrial transformations tend to attract the most media attention, improvements in the techniques and tools used by humans are also clearly reflected in the oci sector. In fact, one of its consequences has been the emergence of video game addiction, a problem that occurs mostly in childhood and adolescence.

In the next lines we will see what is video game addiction in adolescentsWhat are the implications and effects of this psychological problem when it affects this age group, and what can be done about them.

    Video game addiction in adolescence: mechanisms of addiction

    In most cases, the developers of the best-selling video games are very interested in extending the playing hours of their products, that is, the ability to entertain gamers with the video game for many hours. .

    A short headline is usually meant to be read for about 5 or 6 hours, while long headlines can be read for over 150 hours. If we go to extremes, we find video games that are replayable over and over again, and which can appeal to the youngest to the point of keeping them glued to the screen for months, and in some cases for years, as with some. games designed for online competition.

    That’s not to say that video games are inherently addicting; nothing in them allows them to be considered addictive products, and in fact, most regular consumers of these products do not become addicted, unlike most chemical drugs.

    However, it is true that for its characteristics they are able to combine with the psychological predispositions of some young people to make it easier for them to “stick” to video games.

    Below, we will see what are the main factors that contribute to the development of video game addiction in adolescents who use them, as a first step, for entertainment.

    1. The use of explorable objects and environments as reinforcement

    The main resources with which video games keep the player waiting for rewarding experiences are mainly two: objects and explorable environments.

    Elements are virtual objects either they offer new gameplay possibilities (for example, to lift heavy stones) or they are collectible. Explorable environments, as the name suggests, are new ‘scenarios’ that the player can explore that contain a set of new experiences: this is what in classic video games of the’ 80s and ’90s we call’ screen change ”.

    Most video games have at least one of these two elements, and from the start they make it clear to gamers that, if they continue to interact with their virtual world, they will periodically earn these rewards. This way, gamers are more interested in the video game, knowing that if they overcome certain challenges, they will get new content.

      2. The possibility of escaping from the real world

      Adolescence is a stage that many young people experience in a problematic way, coming to “disconnect” so as not to think about their problems.

      Video games meet this need perfectlyAs they provide narratives, virtual environments, and specific goals that are easy to connect with and let attention focus on what’s happening on screen. Even when not playing, teens with video game addiction issues tend to fantasize about the virtual worlds they have become accustomed to interacting with, and even socialize with other young people interested in this type of game. video, they dream with gaming sessions, etc.

      3. The stories of some video games

      Many video games not only offer worlds to explore and satisfying game mechanics in which a challenge is offered and rewards are given for completing it; Outraged, in them interesting stories are told.

      The desire to know how these narratives develop is able to potentiate the addictive effect that games have on some adolescents, especially if they feel identified with one of the main characters.

      4. A way to fight boredom

      It should also be borne in mind that in adolescence there are many young people who have difficulty making friends, either because they have not yet mastered social skills in particular, because they have little opportunities to meet other teens with their interests, to move around and to change. situations, etc.

      like that, video games are a way to “fill” your free time, Since they are not offered other stimulating activities. In this way, a habit associated with low self-esteem begins to form.


      Symptoms of video game addiction during adolescence they are generally the following:

      • Indicate “away” most of the time that you do not play, because the child recreates “games” in his imagination.
      • A state of irritability when you haven’t played a video game for a long time.
      • Tendency to loneliness and seclusion in a place where you can play video games.
      • Impoverishment of their social life: in general, they can only maintain a more or less solid friendship with other young people who play several hours a day.
      • Outbursts of anger if a game is interrupted.

      What to do?

      Fortunately, more and more psychotherapy professionals are trained in how to help adolescents with video game addiction, As well as their families.

      Thanks to a psychological intervention lasting several weeks focused on the evolution of the habits and thought patterns of the pupil or young person, it is possible to considerably weaken the strength of this addiction to e-leisure, to the point that it practically disappears and leaves problem. Of course, in order to achieve the best results, it is necessary to act as soon as possible so that the problem is not firmly installed in the child’s lifestyle.

      If you would like to know more about how we work at the Instituto de Psicologia Psicode regarding addictive behavior, whether in Madrid or Alicante, go to our contact details by clicking here.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Marc, C. & Cholis, M. (2010) Mode of use and dependence of video games in childhood and adolescence. Annals of Psychology, 27, 418-426.
      • Miller, Peter (2013). Principles of drug addiction: integral addictive behaviors and disorders, volume 1. Academic press. pages 819-825.

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