How can I play games every day

Computer game addiction (Gaming Disorder, Video game addiction)

Computer game addiction is a behavioral addiction with compulsive use of online and offline computer games. Read here how to recognize them and what to do about them.

Short version:

  • Computer game addiction is a behavioral addiction such as gambling or shopping addiction.
  • There is compulsive use of electronic games.
  • The everyday life of those affected is influenced by computer game addiction.
  • Children and adolescents who play computers for several hours a day are particularly at risk.
  • Computer game addiction also affects physical health.


Computer game addiction (gaming disorder) is a behavior associated with computer games in which control over gaming behavior is lost and other interests are pushed into the background. The World Health Organization (WHO) would like to recognize computer game addiction as a disease and include it in the 11th International Classification of Diseases.

What is computer game addiction?

Gaming disorder, like gambling or shopping addiction, is a so-called behavioral addiction. An addictive trait is the excessive exercise of this behavior. There is compulsive use of electronic games such as online video games or video games. The affected person can no longer control his consumption behavior and gives the game priority over other activities and life.

The everyday life of the person concerned is influenced by computer game addiction, because other activities and interests are perceived as no longer important or less important. It is also characteristic that computer game addicts continue this behavior despite the negative consequences.

Before the diagnosis of gaming disorder can be made, the person concerned must have shown criteria for computer game-related addictive behavior for at least one year.

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Who is at risk from computer game addiction?

Computer game addiction can occur regardless of gender and age. However, children and adolescents are often affected, who have several hours of computer games every day and unrestricted access to computer games.

Sufferers often try to escape other problems by gambling. Stress at school, with friends or with parents and disorientation during puberty are common reasons.

How does addiction to computer games arise?

As with all mental disorders, several factors work together, such as:

  • Neurobiology
  • personality
  • coping with stress

Brain psychological studies prove that excessive computer games can become an addiction and are based on comparable mechanisms, such as alcohol or cannabis addiction.

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The addiction process is similar: the reward center is activated and positive experiences are saved. Over time, the body learns, for example, to regulate stress levels only in this way. As a result, the body needs more and more of the "drug" so that the positive effect occurs.

Personality is also crucial: self-esteem problems often go hand in hand with behavioral addiction. In the online world, those affected often find the recognition they may seek in vain in the real world. Affected people can thus increase their self-esteem. The majority of those affected try to cope with other psychological problems with the help of gaming.

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What are the signs of computer game addiction?

It is not easy to tell whether someone is addicted to computer games or not. There is currently no generally applicable definition and no corresponding criteria that differentiate between healthy and addicting gaming behavior. Strictly speaking, addiction to computer games cannot be diagnosed at the moment, as it is not listed in the ICD-10 (= international statistical classification of diseases).

However, the WHO would like to include gaming disorder in the 11th classification of diseases. Scientists are currently orienting themselves towards the criteria for pathological gambling. Accordingly, the following criteria indicate computer game addiction:

  • Positive effect on mood up to euphoria when exercising the behavior
  • Important place in the life of the person concerned, so that feeling, thinking and acting are dominated by it
  • Repetition compulsion
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Loss of control
  • Despite massive conflicts in the family, among friends, at work or at school, the problem behavior continues.
  • Withdrawal from other areas of life

What are the effects of computer game addiction?

Computer game addiction also affects physical health. With those affected, the sleep-wake rhythm is often mixed up, resulting in overtiredness and concentration problems. A lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet often lead to obesity. Other physical consequences are improper skeletal strain, headaches and eye problems.

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What can parents do about computer game addiction?

  • Show interest and play with your child. In this way you can get a differentiated picture of your child's play behavior.
  • Give the child a framework as early as possible, set playing times and duration, and be consistent in doing so. A duration of 1.5 hours per day should not be exceeded. Between the days there should always be days without play.
  • Establish rules for media consumption (this also applies to TV and cell phones) - and be a role model yourself.
  • Promote alternative leisure activities in order to have a sense of achievement and fun, to experience adventures, etc. away from the computer (e.g. sport and exercise, active circle of friends, music, new hobbies).
  • Make sure that the computer games are age-appropriate.

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Silke Brenner
Medical review:
Dr. Dominik BatthyƔny
Editorial editing:
Tanja Unterberger, Bakk. phil.

Status of medical information:

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