In Part 1 of this topic I included a brief self-check for reflecting on whether your gamer has healthy gaming habits or not. Did you have little flash-backs of times when these traits or behaviors have surfaced in the recent past? These traits are all part of unhealthy gaming behavior and should be monitored and healthy habits encouraged and supported by you, the parents.
Remember, you are the parent and you have every right to set expectations and uphold them when your child’s growth, health and future are in sway. Continue to make those decisions out of love and be willing to hold the line now so that they can have a healthy future.
I’ve compiled a more robust self-check list on addictive behaviors in the Addictive Behavior Checklist for Gaming. These tools are not intended to be diagnostic. Instead they are tools to help you discern if your gamer needs additional support in finding a healthy gaming life.
Basically: Addictive behavior is behavior that is out of the healthy norm. If your gamer can play a game and then just walk away on a moment’s notice and not need to go back, ever again, they aren’t addicted. If they can control how much they play and their anger while they’re playing, they aren’t addicted. If your gamer can go through a day, a long weekend, a holiday break, without daydreaming about playing video games or having that itch for gaming that needs to be scratched, they aren’t addicted. If they can play while remaining healthy in their hygiene, their school work, their personal and familial relationships, their job, their eating and sleeping, then they aren’t addicted. If your gamer can socialize in personal conversations with friends and strangers, can handle real-life trauma and trials in a mature manner (not perfectly, but age appropriate) and can handle adversity while learning ways of dealing with life stress in an adult fashion, then they aren’t addicted.
However, video game addiction is real, and for some of us we look at this list and think: Oh my gosh! That’s my kid! (Let’s be serious, some of us look at that list and think: Oh my gosh! That’s me!). And the truth is it might be. Video game addiction is not set to a specific age group and, since 59% of Americans play video games and the average gamer is 31 years old and has been gaming since they were seventeen, it can strike anywhere along the spectrum of gaming age.
I teach junior high and I see students on a regular basis whose gaming habits are not in sync with a healthy lifestyle. They game during passing periods, during lunch, on the bus ride and anywhere from 2-8 hours every night during the week. These kids will often game more on weekends. It’s hard to remain healthy and balanced with that kind of time and mental investment, not to mention the money they often spend on games and in-game purchases.
Yet it isn’t only 14 year olds that do this. I have personal friends as well as acquaintances who struggle to keep their lives in check because of gaming and are in their early 30s. One specifically loves his wife, hates his job, but loves the fact that his job lets him game while his wife is at work. He games 10+ hours a day, isn’t receptive to conversations about him playing less and has missed important events, like their anniversary dinner, because he was so invested in his game and didn’t want to let his gaming community down. He isn’t a bad guy. He also isn’t healthy in his gaming or doing his part as a good husband. He’s sold out to games and it is clear that his behavior would constitute as “outside the healthy norm.”
Yet simply saying that someone who likes video games is an addict is not fair, nor healthy. There are plenty of people who can play video games, really enjoy them, and walk away. Yet it isn’t fair, nor healthy, to ignore the obvious signs of addiction because we love them and feel like they’ll “just grow out of it”. That’s a lie, you don’t grow out of what you’ve perfected through practice. You become more set in your ways as your brain trains itself into the addiction and the isolation, frustration and inner turmoil that comes with addiction does not support a healthy future lifestyle.
The purpose of Gamer Revolution is to help initiate conversations that will reveal the heart of your gamer, and allow steps to be taken to work together toward a healthy and loving future in light of one truth: God loved us before we were ever good, and in Jesus we have what we need for freedom. Spiritual freedom comes first, and behavioral, physical and mental freedom come with continued prayer and support. We can walk with our gamers in daily spiritual freedom as we daily work out with Jesus how to become free in our behaviors and our minds as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about WHY gamers game, you can check out my post on 4 Reasons Gamers Game.