Got game: how to recognize addiction to a computer


What is computer addiction?

Half of Europeans spend more than 30 hours a week on compute games. It often happens that addicts themselves or their relatives cannot recognize that it is an addiction. Statistics say that those who spend too much time on games are more likely to suffer from insomnia, have behavioural disorders or social problems. But what exactly is meant by “addiction”?

Doctors in their professional language describe computer addiction as “pathological use of computers” – that is, a painful need for a PC. In addition, according to the severity of the dependence, different degrees are distinguished. The following differentiation takes place according to the type of addiction object: computer games, the Internet, online pornography or social networks.


People are considered addicted when computer games have a significant impact on their daily lives. This happens not according to their will, but because they cannot do otherwise. This compulsive behavior makes the addict neglect friends, family, school, school or work.

Games that are often addictive include multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs). In them, players often fight alone or with a group of the same adventurers. MMORPGs are constantly offering new tasks, and the player is constantly under psychological pressure, afraid to miss something.

Symptoms of addiction to computer games

Addiction to computer games is a disease that must be taken seriously. The addicted person is no longer able to control how and how much he uses the compute. The American Psychiatric Association has developed nine criteria to help better recognize computer addiction. If you find at least five of the following nine signs, you should see your doctor.

  1. A person spends most of his time playing online games. If for some reason the addict cannot play, then his thoughts revolve only around the game.
  2. Staying away from a computer game causes withdrawal symptoms (“withdrawal”), such as irritability, nervousness, longing, or anxiety.
  3. The addicted tolerant of his need to spend more and more time playing computer games – believes that it is normal to spend time on his hobby for the computer.
  4. He hides from friends, family members and therapists the actual extent of his gambling addiction.
  5. He uses a computer game to “dump” negative emotions, such as fear, guilt, or helplessness.
  6. Interest in previous hobbies or social contacts is reduced or completely lost when he is passionate about the game.
  7. Even when the addict sees his psychosocial problems, he still continues to play excessively.
  8. All attempts to reduce the time spent playing games are unsuccessful.
  9. The last symptom of gambling addiction is the risk that the addict is completely immersed in computer games. This threatens to break contacts with family and friends. Or even the loss of a place to study or work.

Reasons for addiction to computer games

It is often not easy to understand if someone is addicted to computer games. But computer symptoms are similar to symptoms of other addictions. Addicts often go headlong into computer games to deal with stress. The characteristics of the individual and social environment, of course, also play a serious role. People who are depressed or extremely shy, distracted by games, forget about their spleen and insecurity.

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder become addicted faster. People with low self-esteem find recognition in the virtual world, for them it is a way of integration that they lack in reality.

The causes of addiction can also be neurobiological in nature. An excessively long game process causes the same physiological processes in the brain as alcohol addiction. In addition, games are attracted by their dangerous reward system, which stimulates the brain, forcing them to play more and more.