Problem gaming is a complicated phenomenon and there is no single, straightforward definition for it. Neither is there a universal time limit for excessive gaming. You can call gaming problematic when it starts to have a negative affect on the person’s life; on their relationships, school or health. For example, when a gamer has no other interests or when they completely replace face to face human contacts with gaming, they have a gaming problem.
If you think your child’s gaming has become excessive you should talk about it with them as soon as possible so that the situation doesn’t grow worse. It’s a good idea to bring up gaming and its risks in everyday conversations. This is first and foremost the parents’ job, but other adults in the child’s life, such as teachers or coaches, can talk about the topic too. Sometimes just finding out someone’s worried about them can make the child think about their own gaming from a new perspective.
If gaming has become a problem to someone you know, first of all find out what they think about their own gaming, wellbeing and life skills. The idea is to strike up a conversation to find some common ground on how both parties see the situation, and at the same motivate the child to think about how under control they really have their life.
Excessive gaming can be a way for the person to escape from their troubles. You should keep this in mind when trying to understand their situation. You shouldn’t only concentrate on the gaming, but also look at the bigger picture. It is important to find out what lies behind the gaming problem. It can often stem from loneliness, depression and problems at school or within the family. The main point is to understand what motivates their gaming and what kind of emotions it arises. For example, is gaming the only way they can experience feelings of success in their life?
Because games are entertaining and engaging, it is easy to get drawn into the world of gaming for long periods of time. Sometimes when excited about a new game, you can end up spending hours in front of the console but then the initial dash of excitement wears off and the time you spend on gaming becomes reasonable again. Gaming a lot every now and then is not necessarily a sign of a gaming problem. However, if gaming starts to regularly take up a lot of your time and has a negative effect on other areas in your life, your gaming has become problematic. There is no time limit for excessive gaming and you can’t define a gaming problem only by how much time a person spends on gaming. It’s important to look at the bigger picture and compare gaming to other factors, such as the person’s life situation and wellbeing.
For the majority of people gambling games cause no problems at all, but there are some who struggle with keeping gambling under their control. In Finland, there are about 110,000 people for whom gambling is a problem. Research indicates that fast-paced games with strong odds for winning and the opportunity to immediately bet your winnings again increase the risk of gambling problems.