We recently revealed that demand for private counsellors had increased by 65% since 2016 on Bark.com. After further investigation into our data, we can reveal that 5,009 Brits requested to book a counsellor for gaming addiction in the last 12 months, and 30% of those requests (1,511) were made by parents for their children.
Gaming addiction has been in the news a lot since it was classified as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation in January 2018, however it is still shocking to discover that more than 1,500 children are potentially suffering with the condition in the UK according to our data.
We decided to team up with some of our top counsellors to create a comprehensive guide for parents, on what to look out for if you suspect your child has a gaming addiction and what you can do about it.
The tell-tale signs of gaming addiction are:
- Expresses extreme anger, irritation and frustration when they’re not allowed access to a video game
- Appears depressed and anxious when they’re not playing a video game
- Becomes disinterested with school work and other activities that they previously enjoyed like sport
- Drastic change in mood when they start playing the game. This can be from calm to excited or from angry to happy for example
- Appears to lose control whilst playing the game and expresses uncharacteristic emotions
- Refuses to leave the room where their game console is
- Becomes more confrontational, especially around bedtime
- Avoids showering and neglects general personal hygiene like brushing their teeth and combing their hair
- Sudden weight gain
- Refusal or hesitation to take part in family activities, such as leaving the house to see grandparents or going for a family meal out
- Decline in communication, for example they speak less to family members in family situations like dinner and don’t contribute to conversations
- Behaviour at school and home worsens and they start to challenge the authority figures in their life. This can be in the form of fighting with other pupils or siblings, being verbally rude to teachers and/or family members and disruptive in classrooms
- School grades start to drop
What can you do if you suspect your child has a gaming addiction?
- Seek professional help, either from a counsellor or your GP
- It could be that the professional suggests your child enrol in a compulsive gaming rehab programme
- Behaviour modification techniques are often utilised to help the individual curb their compulsive gaming
- Family counselling is sometimes beneficial and can help get to the root of the addiction
- Wellness and adventure retreats are also useful to help the individual engage with other more positive activities again
- Be patient, getting over an addiction can take a long time, but consistency is key
You can find a mental health professional who specialises in gaming addiction or addiction therapy here.
Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com said,
“We were shocked at just how many people have sought help for gaming addiction in the last year. It seems to be a modern problem, from working with our counsellors it’s evident that parents are struggling to see the signs. What is apparent is that it’s like any other addiction, except children are more at risk of suffering from it because there’s no age limit like there is with alcohol and it’s very accessible unlike illegal drugs.
“Our counsellors have advised parents to be wary of their child’s behaviour this Summer, especially with games like Fortnite, where it’s the ‘in’ thing to do. Any parents who are concerned can seek professional help and advice, whether that is hiring a counsellor or going to your GP. Gaming addiction is not something to be taken lightly and can have a devastating emotional impact.”