What leads to excess gaming

Boys play more videogames than girls.

  • To really play well, one must play a lot
  • When one plays a lot, one reaches good levels, and it’s hard to stop, one wants to continue getting better
  • Your teenager plays with other players, online. They’re part of a group, of a community. If the group’s other players want to keep playing, it’s hard to leave them. The other players count on your teenager to continue. If he or she doesn’t, it feels like abandoning their friends.
  • Sometimes, games don’t end. One can play a game, again and again, without limits.
  • Some games keep running even when one is absent and offline: this is called “persistent world”. Your teenager may be scared to miss something that might happen in the game while not being there. That’s why they stay in front of the screen. Also, each player has a role to play in the game, and the players are connected between themselves, it’s a social bond. This persistent world is opposed to our real world. Parents need to talk about these two different worlds to their teenager.
  • Games change, are updated, which means there’s always something new to do
  • When one plays, one becomes part of rankings. One wants to become always better, stronger than other players, it is motivating. One can´t stop playing.
  • When one plays, one is the best, one is valued. The game can seem better than “real life”.

When one doesn’t feel well, it’s very hard to stop playing. And during adolescence, sometimes,

  • one isn’t comfortable, lacks self-esteem and doesn’t trust oneself enough
  • one experiences change, or goes through a crisis, or conflicts, accident, break-up, house move, wedding, a new child in the family…
  • one can experience difficulties at school
  • one lacks support, has no friends
  • one doesn’t find projects yet, lacks motivation for the future.

Understanding why one’s teenager plays (too much)

Your teenager spends the whole time in front of the screen: he/she is isolated, nothing else matters, the screams from the room worry you, or irritate you. Try to understand what happens in the game. If you understand what they’re doing, you’ll be able to talk to them.

Ask what games he or she plays:

  • Is it an action game? A role-playing game? An adventure game?
  • Do you have to think, or mainly decide?
  • Do you play alone or online?
  • Do you know the other players? Have you played other games with them? In what country do they live? Do you have online friends that you have never met in person?
  • Do you have to create characters in this game? Can you choose? Who decides, you or the game?
  • How can you get elements from the game? The elements are the materials, cosmetics, boosters, experiences…
  • Can you buy elements in the game? Have you ever spent money? Why?

Try to find out why the game is so important for your child. The game may be attractive because:

  • your teenager obtains results and rewards in the game – and no rewards at home?
  • your child lost some friends, he/she suffers from being isolated. Maybe in the game they’re able to make friends more easily?
  • your teenager has bad grades in school. In the game, he/she gets rewards;
  • at home there are too many problems, conflicts with siblings, between parents.

Try to find help and resources to overcome these difficulties.