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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Online Gaming Addiction

Over the past year, we have received a growing number of phone calls from parents who are increasingly concerned about their child's online gaming habits. They are sure that there is a problem but counselors unfamiliar with online gaming addiction don’t understand how seductive they can be. One parent that I had worked with told me she had gone to talked to her son’s guidance counselors, the school psychologist, and two local addiction rehabilitation centers. "No one had ever heard of someone getting addicted to X-Box. They all told me it was a phase and that I should try to limit my son’s game playing. They didn’t understand that I couldn’t. He had lost touch with reality. My son lost interest in everything. He didn’t want to eat, sleep, or go to school, the game was the only thing that mattered to him. When I told him to get offline, he yelled, screamed, and once, he pushed me. This isn’t my son. He’s a quiet and loving boy. Now, I don’t know who is."

While many people play online games without developing any addictive or compulsive type of behavior, it seems that some users do go beyond normal limits. In trying to understand the behavior better, what are your thoughts on the potential of online gaming addiction? Do you believe it can become addictive? Do you believe that certain personality traits place some users at greater risk to develop an addiction to online games?