Helping you get through tough times


Whether your preference is Xbox, online gaming or just Angry Birds, gaming can be enjoyable and help us relax.

Back of the head of a gamer wearing headphonesThere’s a lot of media coverage speculating it causes anti-social problems.

While this can happen, for most people gaming will just be something they enjoy and won’t interfere with their lives.

Is gaming addictive?

Addiction is either:

  • Physical – when a substance affects your body’s chemistry and you crave the substance
  • Psychological – when you’re addicted to a feeling that a substance or behaviour creates.

Video games are designed to excite, thrill and offer an escape from real-life. So, it’s possible to become psychologically dependent on them.


Physical withdrawal symptoms from gaming could develop over time, such as:

  • cravings
  • irritability
  • depression
  • insomnia.

Mild addictions

Some addictions are severe, but patterns and behaviours don’t have to be severe for someone to be considered addicted.

How would I know if I’m addicted?

If playing video games is interfering with everyday life then it could be a problem.

Indications gaming might be a problem:

  • stopping activities or hobbies you used to enjoy
  • not being bothered about seeing friends or socialising
  • not wanting to eat at regular meal times
  • not getting enough sleep or exercise because of gaming
  • school/college work is starting to slip
  • irritability, anger or depression if you don’t get to play.

Things that can help

Set limits

Set yourself amounts of time for gaming and try and stick to them. It can be hard if you’ve to be online for study or work. But, it will get easier over time.


Have distractions ready, so when you’re tempted to play it’s easier not to.

It could be anything, calling a friend, going for a run, reading a book. Anything to take your focus away from gaming.

Getting busy

Finding other pastimes can help if you’re trying to cut down on gaming. Particularly if you’ve got lots of time on your hands, such as your summer holidays.

Volunteering, joining a club or trying new interests are a few ideas. But, really anything that takes up time will help you manage your gaming.

Is it a symptom of something else?

We all need to de-stress and there are times we need to ‘escape’. Gaming can provide this escape, but it won’t necessarily sort out the underlying issue.

If you think your gaming addiction started as an escape from another problem, then maybe talking to someone about it could be an option?

Take care of yourself

Ensure you’re looking after yourself and getting support if you need it. Even talking to friends and family can help to alleviate stress.

Worried about a friend or family member?

If you think someone you care about is spending too much time gaming there are a few things you can do:

  • talk to them – communicate your concerns, but try not to be judgemental
  • let them know you’re there for them
  • consider talking to their parents or guardian
  • suggest activities to take them away from gaming
  • if you think they’re using games to avoid something else, suggest they get help.

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

What can I do now?

Follow us on Facebook