Gamers beware: addiction closer than thought

(WMBF / WBRC-TV) --- Two brothers sitting on a couch playing video games. It's a scene you'd find in millions of homes. But here, there's a problem.

"I'd come home and if there was a day where my wife's not home, I'd just go in and play for hours and hours," said Nate Hall.

He realized this wasn't healthy.

"I would fully say I was addicted," he said. "I would probably say I'm still kind of addicted."

He'd try to quit playing for a week or two but would find himself getting stressed-out and irritable.

That's not surprising to Grand Strand therapist Pamela Sanabria of Firm Foundations Counseling.

She tells us "media addiction" may soon be added to the official book on mental disorders. She thinks parents should keep an eye out for warning signs among kids.

"You may notice headaches and backaches just because of the physical posture necessary to do these games," she said.

Sanabria suggests limiting video games to an hour or so a night and never letting it interfere with homework.

Nate's brother, Evan, admits he played video games so much he didn't go to class sometimes when he was in college.

However, he rejects the "addict" label.

"I never really saw myself like that," said Evan. "I haven't really seen others like that because I don't really meet a lot of people."

That could be a warning sign in itself.

According to Sanabria, the warning signs include:

1)      Electronic devices interfering with relationships, education, or work

2)      Having to use the device more to feel satisfied

3)      Lying about or hiding your use of the device

4)      Becoming highly irritable/depressed when usage is limited

Nate believes he was able to break his addiction to video games. The breakthrough came just weeks ago, when his baby boy was born.

"I just haven't really had much reason to play, haven't had much want to play," he said.

But Sanabria says you might need to find a mental health counselor to help you if your attempts at cutting back aren't working and you lack self-control.

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