Sean loves gaming online. That's not unusual. Lot's of people enjoy multi-player online games. Few people though, like Sean, realize when their favorite activity has crossed the line and become an online gaming addiction.
To Sean online gaming isn't an addiction -- it's just a fun way for him to unwind from the stress of work and family. It's also an activity he enjoys doing together with his 11-year-old son. So how can something that makes him a better dad be so bad?
What Impact Does Online Gaming Have?
Ask Sean's wife about what impact his gaming has on him and their family and you'll get a much different answer. One of the sign's of an online gaming addiction is when playing negatively affects other parts of your life. Here are a couple of examples from Sean's life of what that can look like.
Sean routinely has conflicts with his wife over parenting their kids at bedtime. He really looks forward to 9:30 pm when the kids are in bed and he can get online for some "me time." When he's still dealing with getting the kids to bed at 9:40 pm he usually has a tough time controlling his anger.
Sean's been meeting with Guy Stuff for help with anger management and to fix his marriage. During a meeting last week he shared some interesting revelations he's had about what he's now starting to see as his online gaming addiction.
He says that a lot of other guys are just like him and are online gaming at night.
It's like going to a bar. It's become my social life. We meet up online almost every night. Kill some monsters. Chit-chat about the day. Then realize, hey, I got to get up for work and sign off."
Why Online Gaming Becomes an Addiction
Sean's realized that "some emotional gap is getting filled." It's not just men who are getting emotional needs met online either, it's women too. He says that he's surprised how many of the other players are women. Sean says he's careful not to discuss too much about his personal life, but says many other people do.
What started out for Sean as just a fun hobby has become an online gaming addiction. He now admits about his marriage that "I'm not there to some extent" and he's beginning to see how his addiction to online gaming is part of the reason. "We've found ways to be apart."
It can be hard to see how an innocent recreational activity like gaming can be bad for you. Many people are just like Sean and see their game play as nothing more than a stress reliever. However, when you become addicted to playing and doing it negatively impacts you and other areas of your life then it's a problem that must be addressed.
Perhaps it sounds strange to compare online gaming to having an affair. But a lot of partners will say that the game console is like another woman to them in how it's so alluring to their partner and steals them away. So in many ways it can have the same affect as cheating -- just ask Sean's wife.
If you believe you, or someone you love, might have an addiction to gaming then reach out to a licensed counselor for some help. Don't let an online gaming addiction become the other woman in your life.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published October 9, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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