What I have come to realise whilst learning more about people suffering from video gaming addiction is that, not only do people themselves struggle with their addiction to playing video games excessively, but also their loved ones as well. Most of the time people who are addiction to playing video games are not aware of the worry and sorrow of their loved ones who can see their problem with excessively playing video games.
I understand how hard it is for family/friends struggling to understand why their loved one cannot pull themselves away from playing their video games and focus on their family and priorities. I understand how frustrating it is to deal with it.
Here are 5 tips to help guide you:
1) Do not constantly tell them they have a problem:
In doing this, you will only aggravate the person addicted to playing video games, may cause them to rebel against you and even become more immersed into them video gaming world. They will see this as “nagging” or “moaning” about their interest and shut off from you. As frustrating and hard as it is, it is best to leave them to it and allow for them to come to their own thoughts on their addiction to playing video games. This will work one of two ways, they will completely ignore everything including you or they may start to feel lonely enough to realise they miss you and come and talk to you about it.
Give them the space and chance to figure out they have a problem, admit it and be there for them when they wish to do something about it.
At this point in time, there is no amount of information or loving words you can say to someone about their problem if they aren’t even willing to admit they have one. Hard for you as it may be, it is best and healthier for you both to step back and allow them to come to the conclusions on their own.
2) Ask them how they are when you see them:
When your loved one or friend finally emerges from playing their video game for food, drink etc… When you see them, ask them how they are, ask if they are alright. As much as you want to help and tell them of their destructive habit, you cannot as this will push them away further. If they do not response, let them know that you are there if they need you. Again, if they ignore you, leave it at that. Let them come to you. If they do end up lashing out at you for simply asking how they are, ask why are they acting like this? Be calm and say you only wanted to know if they are ok. If they continue to lash out, ask them what is wrong. Again, ask calmly. It is important that your loved one/friend knows they can talk to you without judgement.
It is very important not to judge your friend or loved one whilst they have this problem. Feeling like you are judged for your life choices regardless of whether they are good or bad does not help anyone. It only adds fuel to the fire. If you feel that you cannot talk to them, say that you cannot talk to them while they are in that state of mind and leave the room. Let them cool down and allow yourself space to calm down or let go of negative emotions. It is very important that you do not fly off the handle as this is not going help their situation.
On the other hand, they may surprise you and answer you. Whether short or long answer to your question of how they are, smile and respond to it. If they say they’re just tired, say “ok, get some sleep I will be quiet, so you can get some rest”. Or if they say, “yeah, I’m ok” (I know you will want to yell “no you’re not” but re-frame from it) say “that’s good” and if you have anything you want to include them in, ask them to join in. If they say no, do not loose your cool and yell, just say “Ok maybe another time”. It is important your friend or loved one knows you are there especially if they are beginning to think they are addicted to playing video games.
3) Seek support from family and friends:
It is important to maintain a strong support force for your friend or loved one that has an addiction to playing video games. Organise and have regular events at home or outings and invite them. I know you’ve probably already tried this and felt it was a huge waste of time, but with consistent events coming up and seeing how much fun you are all having without them may spark their interest to see what is going on. Make sure your family or friends know that when they see your loved one/friend (who is struggling with addiction to playing video games) that they should welcome them like nothing has happened. Make sure they say it is good to see them. Even invite them to ask what they are up to or what games they are into now. Showing an interest in gaming may help your friend/loved one to join the event and feel able to socialise with you all because there is a common interest.
Majority of the time, people who are addicted to playing video games may have already developed social anxiety or have developed social anxiety due to their addiction to playing video games, so it is important that you show them that you are happy to talk about gaming to make them feel more relaxed, involved or even understood. Whilst they are talking about their games they are playing, show an interest and ask questions about it. While they are talking to you, they are away from their console and getting a break from it even though they are talking about video games.
Even if you do not have an interest in games, compromise and show that you do just to have that time with them. This may help your loved one/friend come out of their video gaming cave and into the open again slowly pulling them more towards spending time with family and friends then playing video games.
4) Do not laugh at or dismiss their plans:
Now this is a definite no. If you do happen to speak to someone addicted to playing video games about what it is they want to do with their life. Do not judge, scoff at or dismiss at their dreams or goals, especially if they want to be a professional gamer. There is nothing worse then feeling like you are not understood or just judged on your interests. Instead, ask them questions on how they can do that? Ask them how they can apply for such a position. Again, show interest and support. Give them the chance to go for it. It is possible (hard as it is) to become a paid professional gamer by game franchises such as Ubisoft, EA, RockStar and Crystal Dynamics, so show support for them. Allow them to see how hard it is and encourage them to work for it if that is what they want to do. Assure them that they can do it, but they must understand how hard it will be to get there.
If they say they can only get there by getting good at playing games, ask them how they can be discovered if they are only practicing in their room and not at competitions? Ask them are they going to competitions and can you go watch? Tell them you want to understand that more and ask them to explain more so you can support them. I know you will want to bang your head against the wall reading this, but it is important to understand that this person knows you are there for them regardless of what you think. Only give your opinion if they ask. If they don’t like your answer just say, that is just your opinion and leave it at that. Support is key, regardless of how you feel. It is also about what they are feeling too.
5) Closed mind? Educate yourself:
Please do not have a closed mind. I understand how frustrating it is for you, but you must understand that having a closed mind to what they are dealing with will not solve the problem. Educate yourself as much as possible about their problem, speak to counsellors, psychologists or life coaches to gain a understanding of how to deal with it. Research the internet on the issues. Read the newly published information provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and what their evidence of video game addiction is.
Note the information or advice and think of ways to help. If you feel like you are not getting anywhere with your loved one/friend, then please do not force any ideas or notions on them as this will push them further away. You must understand that no one can help this person (who is addicted to playing video games) to recognise it other then themselves. Once they recognise it and decide that they do want help tackling it, only then can anyone help, including yourself.
By educating yourself on the problem and talking to professionals can also help you cope with living or being around someone addicted to playing video games.
If you feel you need any further guidance or help, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All the best!