Adolescents & Video Games

"Mom, just five more minutes! I have to finish this level” I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Nowadays, video games are accessible from anywhere. For some, it’s a harmless distraction but for others, it can become an overriding obsession that interferes with daily life. Too much time playing video games can have an unfavorable impact on brain development and overall functioning, especially for kids and teens.

Attention and focus

Do you ever wonder why kids seem to have a never ending supply of attention when it comes to playing video games but not completing their homework? The explanation for is due to how the brain is conditioned when games are being played. Games are goal-driven in that challenges and levels keep moving and changing. It can take the average gamer months to achieve the highest level in each of these games, keeping them trying to best their high score.

As each new goal is met or a goal is achieved, a neuro-chemical called dopamine is released; Dopamine is strongly associated with feelings of pleasure. Due to the nature of video game design, the brain is inundated with hundreds or thousands of little dopamine releases, conditioning the brain to continue playing the game.

Boy sits all alone in living room and plays a computer game. He is holding a game controller

Warning signs

I often see children and teens that are struggling academically or socially, which can cause emotional distress. To escape, they retreat more into video games, which only isolates them further and keeps the cycle going. The trick is recognizing certain behaviors.

Mood Changes

games come first

cognitive changes

Sisters helping mother with laundry

what should i do?

Video games are not the problem; it’s the way they are being played. Doing too much of anything can become problematic. The goal is to balance and prioritize work and leisure so that a balanced way of life can be achieved.

If you feel the video game playing has become a source of stress for your child and family, please feel free to contact me so that I can help.