Video Games & Your Kids

Hilarie Cash, PhD and Kim McDaniel, MA

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Self Assessment

Please answer the following checklist with honesty. Be aware that denial (What? Me gaming too much? I only play forty hours a week!) can influence your own judgment. If you are in doubt as to how to answer a question, ask for feedback from a trusted friend or relative -- someone you know will give you a straight answer.

  Unable to predict the amount of time spent on gaming
Whether you are able to give an honest estimate of how much time you will spend on a game before you start.
  Failed attempts to control personal gaming behavior for an extended period of time
If you and your family/friends have frequent power struggles over gaming; not able to stop at a predetermined time.
  Having a sense of euphoria (an exaggerated sense of well-being) while playing
Ask yourself: How do you feel when you are in the game? Are you happier? Do you feel God-like?
  Craving more gaming
How often do you talk about the game or ask to play? Is it the first thing that you are drawn to upon arriving home? Is it the last thing you want to do at the end of your day?
  Neglecting family and friends
Have you decided to stay home and play instead of going out? Do you miss family events such as family dinner, nights out, etc?
  Feeling restless, irritable, and discontented when not gaming
Are you unhappy when you are not gaming? Do you feel that there is an increase in anger and fighting when you are unplugged?
  Lying to family or authority figures about gaming behavior
Have you given your friends or family any reason to not trust you about your gaming habits? Have they been forced to remove the game from you, or turned off your game?
  Problems with school or job performance as a result of time spent gaming
A decline of school grades after the introduction of a new game; missing first class of the day or often tardy at school? Are there power struggles around homework? Are you unwilling to look for part-time employment? Have you been fired for poor attendance?
  Having guilt, shame, anxiety, or depression as a result of time spent on gaming
Would you child feel proud to talk to parents or teachers about your gaming habits?
  Changing sleep patterns
Gaming all night and sleeping the day away wreaks havoc with the body's natural rhythms and establishes patterns that are difficult to reverse.
  Developing health issues such as carpel tunnel syndrome, eye strain, weight change, and backaches
Weight gain or loss of ten to fifteen pounds or more; a need to change the prescription strength for eyeglasses or contact lenses; increased difficulty with physically demanding activities.
  Denying, rationalizing, and minimizing the adverse consequences of gaming
"I don't have a problem," "My friends play a lot more than I do," "You're too old to understand," "I can stop any time," "It's no big deal," "I have lots of friends on-line, so it's not like I'm spending time alone."
  Withdrawing from real-life hobbies and social interactions
Quitting the team; turning down opportunities to participate in hobbies that would have appealed to you before he started gaming.
  Obsessing about romantic/sexual acting out through gaming
When not gaming, do you talk incessantly about it? Have you ever dreamed about being in the game? Do you draw game characters? Spend hours doing research in order to improve your on-line character?
  Creating an enhanced persona to find Cyber love or Cyber sex
What type of on-line characters do you choose to represent yourself? What are your chat and interactions with the other characters? Is what your doing flirting? Have you created a character to get closer to members of the opposite sex?

Evaluating Your Score

0 - 2: Gaming is not a problem for you at this time. You know that a game is just a game. You are keeping it light and keeping it fun. The way you spend your leisure time is in balance and you're probably fine.
3 - 4: Gaming is becoming problematic. Most likely someone close to you has expressed their concern. If you do not change your habits now, you could very easily find yourself addicted to gaming. An answer of 4 indicates abuse. It is no longer "just a game."
5 or more: Gaming has become addictive. It's time to ask for help from your friends or family. Most gamers at this level have already noticed that they are missing out on significant parts of real life: healthy relationships, graduating from school or college, or career advancement. You are on a slippery slope. As real life becomes more disappointing and difficult, your on-line world will become even more attractive. It is time for intervention.
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