Cam Adair finally realized that his video game addiction was out of control when he thought about ending his life.
“I fought my addiction for 10 years,” says the 32-year-old Canadian.
“I dropped out of high school, never went to college, and pretended to have jobs to cheat on my family.”
“One night I wrote a suicide note and that’s when I realized I needed help. Now I fill 3,860 free of video game addiction.”
Adair is the founder of Game Quitters (“Game Dropouts”), an online support group for people struggling with video game addiction.
Have more than 75,000 members worldwide.
Technology, and specifically the internet, has helped keep the world going during the coronavirus lockdowns, Adair acknowledges, but it has also made that time more difficult for people like him.
“The pandemic led me to spend more time than usual on Twitch (a streaming or live streaming service that targets people in computer games) and YouTube.”
“Much of that content (from YouTube) was video game broadcasts, which could trigger a strong relapse.”
“Fortunately I was able to avoid it, but I know many people in the Game Quitters community who fell back into their addiction during the covid-19 (pandemic). “
In an article published in the CNS Drugs magazine on internet addiction, researchers Martha Shaw and Donald W Black, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa in the United States, claimed that dependence on video games is part of a broader addiction to Internet.
The study defines it as “excessive or poorly controlled concerns, impulses or behaviors regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or distress.”
You might think that this dependence is not as serious as alcoholism or drug addiction, but it can be very debilitating for those who suffer from it.
Andrew Doan, a neuroscientist and digital addiction expert, agrees that lockdowns during the pandemic have exacerbated the problem.
“Stress in life leads to a longing for behaviors and escape mechanisms“Doan stated.
“The pandemic has increased stress in people’s lives and a convenient way to escape is to use digital media for entertainment, such as games and social media.”
“The excessive use of these means to escape from stress is a risk factor for the development of addictive behaviors.”
To help combat internet addiction, several technology companies created tools that allow you to block or limit access to the web or online gaming sites.
Linewize It is one of those products aimed at children or, more specifically, at their parents.
The website and app allow parents and caregivers remotely limit and control the time children can spend on gaming websites or the internet in generalEither through the smartphones or the laptops of minors.
Linewize also contains the usual “parental controls” that prevent access to pornography or violent material.
Teodora Pavkvic, a Linewise psychologist and digital wellness expert, noted that young people are particularly susceptible to spending too much time online. Parents and teens themselves would likely agree with that statement.
“Manage time online in a healthy and balanced way it requires highly sophisticated cognitive skills that are not fully developed until we are 25 years old. “
“Internet platforms are designed to maximize our time and attention on the web and extract our data. This, combined with the many dangers lurking online, makes it exceptionally difficult for children to interact with the digital world in a measured way. , safe and responsible “.
For adults, internet addiction too can become a gambling addiction which is powered by some sites.
BetBlocker is an application that allows users to block their access to tens of thousands of gambling websites and applications for a period of time determined by themselves.
Once the restriction is activated, the person cannot access the gaming platforms until the restriction expires.
The BetBlocker app, which is free, can also be controlled by someone’s partner, friends or parents.
“Ease of access to gambling sites is without a doubt the biggest challenge anyone with digital addiction faces today,” said Duncan Garvie, the founder of BetBlocker, whose company is based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“Everybody walks with a casino or a bookmaker in their pocket and it is very easy to play discreetly “on the cell phone.
Users can block gambling sites for hours, days, or weeks. And they can also use the app to block other online video game sites.
“Betblocker is intended to assist users by creating a restriction during known periods of vulnerability,” Garvie added.
GamBlock is another application that can be used in a similar way to prevent access to gambling websites. “We are not against the game,” said the executive director of this Australian firm, David Warr. They focus, he says, on helping those players with problems.
Dr. Doan’s knowledge of video game addiction is also based on his own experience: he was an addict himself.
“When I was studying at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (in Baltimore, USA), and at the time I did my residency, a few days years in total, I played between 80 and 100 hours a week to video games “.
Doan is the author of the book entitled Hooked On Games: The Lure And Cost of Video Games and Internet Addiction, (“Hooked on games: the attraction and cost of internet and video game addiction”).
In the neuroscientist’s view, the internet should be seen as two separate parts.
“I divide digital media into two broad categories: digital sugar versus digital vegetables. Digital vegetables, like online therapies, can be used to help people manage their stress and reduce the risk of addictive behaviors.
But “excessive use of digital sugars such as games, pornography, and non-work-related social media can increase the risk of addictive behaviors, particularly when these activities are used to escape daily stressors.”
Doan fears that given the amount of time we all spend online, we will see more and more addictions to games and the Internet.
However, Cam Adair is hopeful that tech companies like Linewize, BetBlocker, and GamBlock can help alleviate the problem.
And it is important to emphasize that people concerned about any form of addiction should speak with their doctor.
Adair has published his work in Psychiatry Research magazine and is now an international speaker on addiction issues.
“Asking for help saved my life”, he stressed. “I became deceptive, withdrawn, isolated, hostile, and unreachable during my addiction. Now I am happy, content, and able to cope with the normal stresses of life.”