How Does Video Game Addiction Affect Mental Health in Young Adults?

Gone are the days when young adults needed a bulky gaming system to play their favorite video games. Today, most of them are able to carry their favorite games around with them in their pocket. Playing on the bus, in the car, at a friend’s house, or late into the night in bed has become the norm. Many young people today can hardly imagine even waiting in a line without pulling out their phones to play a round of their favorite game. But video game addiction can begin to be a problem, and when it does, it can have serious negative effects on a young adult’s mental health.

Is Video Game Addiction Real?

In 2019, the World Health Organization recognized “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition and added the disorder to the International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-11, the organization’s official diagnostic manual. Just enjoying video games is not enough to count as a disorder, but when the games begin to interfere with the player’s daily life that’s when it can be classified. According to the WHO: “…gaming disorder is a ‘pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” in which people lose control of their gaming behavior, give priority to gaming over other interests and activities, and continue gaming despite negative consequences, such as impairments in their family relationships, social lives, work duties or other areas.’.” A person usually has to have symptoms for a year to be diagnosed.

Signs of Video Game Addiction

While video game addiction can have both mental and physical effects, here are some mental health symptoms to look for:

  • Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
  • Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing
  • Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming

Does Video Game Addiction Affect Mental Health?

The short answer is: yes. A study in 2019 found that mobile gaming addiction positively correlated with depression, loneliness, and social anxiety. They also reported that young adults addicted to video games showed increased depression and anxiety, and felt more socially isolated. Another facet of gaming addiction was that males seemed to suffer more from the negative effects than females, and males were more likely to lack social skills and would socially withdraw.

Foundations Asheville Can Help

If you have a young adult in your life who is exhibiting the symptoms of video game addiction, a residential treatment program like Foundations Asheville can help. The program serves young adults age 18-24 who are looking to acquire the tools to make the transition from adolescence to life as an independent adult. Many of the students who come to Foundations are struggling with anxiety, depression, executive functioning, and experiencing challenging family dynamics. Foundations helps young adults aspire to find meaning, direction, relationships, and self-reliance in their lives. For more information about Foundations Asheville call (877) 318-7273.


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