You feel like you’ve been spending too much time playing video games lately? Do you often go to sleep late at night because you couldn’t let go of your favourite game? Or are you a concerned parent who is afraid their kids will end up addicted to video games? Your worries are totally legit, but you should start with the following idea in mind: video games are not bad per se; the problem is how we handle this pastime activity and if we know when to stop. Here are some tips to avoid making video games a problem instead of a way to relax:
1. Take responsibility
As we’ve mentioned just before, not video games are the problem, but the person who is playing. Don’t blame the game and if you have a problem, accept it instead of blaming anyone else, from the person who has given you a game console as a gift to companies that develop video games.
2. What is the impact?
Playing video games may prevent you from engaging in other pleasant or healthy activities, like doing physical exercise, reading, or going out with friends. Think of the positive aspects of limiting the amount of time you spend playing video games.
3. Realise the magnitude of the problem
Be honest with yourself and count how many hours you spend every week playing video games. Round up the numbers. If you spend more than 25 hours every week in front of your computer or gaming console, then you have a serious problem and you should do something about it as soon as possible.
4. Limit your time
Setting the alarm clock to sound after one hour should help, but the tactic will fail if you play the kind of games that require you to spend hours before making a save or that you can’t quit at any moment. It’s also important to pick the kind of game genre that allows you to play for a limited time.
5. Schedule other activities
Make a list of activities that you enjoy, preferably those that involve socializing, going out, or exercising. You need to consciously choose to pursue a different activity, and once you start doing it, it will be easier to forget about that video game.
6. Earn your gaming time
This tactic is usually recommended for children, but you can apply it on yourself as well. The idea is to do an exchange on video games, like spending three hours doing something beneficial for your mind and body, like reading or exercising, and one hour playing video games.
7. Spend quality time with other people
Oftentimes, solitary activities like playing video games represent a refuge. Instead of working to solve the issues in your relationship, you choose to ignore the entire situation and immerse in a fictional world. Or parents let children play video games in the first place because this takes the job of entertaining kids out of their hands. This strategy not only delays the bad consequences, but it also makes them worse. So solve the other problems in your life first and the need to play video games for hours in a row will probably disappear.
8. Make sure you meet all obligations before playing video games
Meet all your obligations related to school, work, and family, and only then play video games as a reward for doing your job.
9. Avoid the equipment related to games
Use a phone that doesn’t support too many games and stop purchasing equipment that encourages you to play video games, such as consoles, new computers designed for gaming, or operating systems that facilitate gaming.
10. Avoid open-ended games
Open-ended games like Civilization and World of Warcraft can easily cause addiction because the game never ends; with other games, your addiction vanishes when you’ve unlocked all features, but the situation is different with these MMOs. Try board games or card games instead – you will still need to plan and focus on the game, but at least you know the game ends at some point.
11. Ask someone else to be in control
If you really can’t stop, consider involving a friend or relative in the entire situation. For instance, ask a relative to hide your consoles and CDs, or use parental control software and let them play the role of the parent, without you knowing the password.
12. Get professional help
If none of the suggestions above help, it may be time for you to get help from a therapist so you move past your addiction. You will learn how to refocus your energy and interest towards a different activity instead of gaming, and addiction counsellors know exactly how to help each client to get over gaming issues.
We hope the pieces of advice in this article will help you enjoy video games in a healthy manner and be in control all the time instead of letting them to take over your life.