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Replacement Activity List Made By People in Recovery for Video Game Addiction

Replacement Activity List Made By People in Recovery for Video Game Addiction

Replacement Activity List Made By People in Recovery for Video Game Addiction

Top Replacement Activity List Developed by Mental Health Providers and Former Gamers

 

When choosing an activity, it’s all about intent

Time. It’s a commodity we all have at our disposal. For chronic online video gamers, streamers, tech users, or social media influencers, time offline feels empty and boring. This is one of the reasons why trying to replace acitivites like video gaming, Internet surfing, snap chatting, or streaming with offline activities often fails. For a heavy user, the brain rewards received by your online activity of choice far outweighs the rewards received by engaging in offline activities, even ones that should be rewarding.

Our recommendation is to plan offline activties with an intent in mind. For example, a parent might say, “go outside and play.” Sure, this is an excellent actvity for many reasons. That said, a person whose brain is highly rewarded for online video gaming may feel depressed when offline, and going outside just doesn’t seem to help them feel any better.

Having an intent behind “why” you’re doing a particular activity might make all the difference when participating in even simple activities feels challenging. Each of the activites listed in this guide have an intent behind them. Eating healthier has been shown to lead to less depression. Thus the intent behind the actvity is not only to lesson the amount of time spent online, it’s to reduce your symptoms of depression. When you feel like giving up because it feels boring, you can rise to the challenge when you understand that engaging in the activity over time will improve your mood, and help you feel better.

The following activity list is designed with the mutual intent of reducing time spent online while improving your overall well-being.

First, drop the fantasy reading

In 10 years of working with people in treatment for video game addiction, we have found that one of the first replacement activities they turn to is fantasy reading, fantasy drawing or other related activity. While we pass no moral judgement on fantasy books, or these type of activities, we do suggest for your consideration that these replacement activities are a way for the brain to continue providing the neural stimulation and rewards which was occurring while video gaming. Thus, if you really want to change your online use habits, pick up a self-help book, or engage in non-fantasy related activities.

Suggested replacement reading activities:

  • Self-help books related to ending a tech obsession
  • Read a book in a genre unfamiliar to you to build new neural pathways

 

Second, get moving

Online pursuits involve a significant amount of time being immobile; sitting, neck looking down, and body fairly still. The human body is designed to move in order to stay physically healthy. Of all the activties which promote a healthier mind and body, movement tops the list.

Activities which promote movement:

  • Start by getting outside more
  • Go for a walk
  • Eventually go for a run
  • Join a gym
  • Visit a climbing gym. Ask for a trial lesson.
  • Hit the swimming pool.

Third, start to eat healthier

Online pursuits involve a significant amount of time being immobile; sitting, neck looking down, and body fairly still. The human body is designed to move in order to stay physically healthy. Of all the activties which promote a healthier mind and body, movement tops the list.

Activities which improve healthier eating:

  • Go through your fridge and throw out all the junk
  • De-sugar your environment. 
  • Spend time reading the ingredients on your food labels. 
  • Find a recipe book with food you’ll actually cook
  • Throw out the pop, soda, and energy drinks.
  • Sign up to take a cooking class
  • Invite someone over to cook with you. Making pizza’s together is a good place to start.

reSTART your life.

call 800.682.6934

Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

We Help Folks With Mental Health Conditons and Screen Dependence

Internet Addiction with Co-occurring Disorders is a very clinical way to talk about what we treat at reSTART. Being less clinical, we can just say that most of the folks who come to reSTART have more than one problem. Yes, their lives have fallen apart because of their gaming and other Internet activities, but when they come to reSTART most of them are depressed, anxious, and many have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some of them show traits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And many have physical problems such as severe sleep deprivation, under weight or over weight, and physcially deconditioned.

Our philosophy of care is to take a holistic view of each individual and address the whole person. The difficulties that our clients have are usually social, physical and psychological.

For those with a Video Game Addiction, Physical Health is Foundational

If you’re sleep deprived, sedentary (yet highly aroused), eating an impoverished diet and not taking care of your self-care needs like brushing your teeth, your health will quickly deteriorate. If this has been going on for years, you’re likely to be in bad physical health. You may find that you can’t sleep even when you try; you’re severely underweight or overweight; your body is not physically fit; and your teeth may be rotting. There are some gamers who have lost control to such an extent, gaming nonstop for 40 plus hours at a time, that they collapse dead at their computers from throwing a blood clot or from organ failure. If you’re someone whose absorption in digital media has caused you to lose appetite (or, not pay attention to hunger), you could end up like one of our clients who arrived at reSTART weighing 115 lbs. He was 6’2”. Another client was so chronically sleep deprived that he had waking hallucinations. Another had to have caps put on all his teeth.

So, one of the first things we address are these physical health needs. Regular sleep, healthy diet, lots of physical exercise, all in an environment that is screen free and stress free, go a long way toward restoring a sense of physical and emotional well-being. Our Naturopathic physician checks vitamin and mineral levels, blood sugar, and other components of health. She has consistently found low Vit D levels, and she has been successful in helping a number of clients reverse their pre-diabetic condition.

Without Mental Health We Cannot Attain Our Full Potential for Happiness

Along with the physical problems that our clients typically have, there are mental health problems beyond their compulsive Internet use. The vast majority of our client arrive depressed (sometimes suicidal) and anxious. Many come with a prior diagnosis of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). About a third show traits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We’ve come to anticipate that some of these diagnoses will change over the course of their stay with us. Most of those who are depressed report not feeling depressed after the first month or so. This is because they are detoxed from screens, their physical health is being restored, and they are connecting to others. Those with ADHD may find that they really don’t need medication, or can reduce it, for the same reasons. Symptoms of anxiety and ASD often reduce, as well.

Self-esteem is built on, among other things, a sense of competency. As our clients gain mastery over the many simple things that they must do (like caring for the animals, learning to cook, caring for their physical living environment) they begin to feel better and better about themselves, which, of course,

contributes to a sense of wellbeing reversing the depression and anxiety they were experiencing before coming to reSTART. As they advance in the program, going into the Open World transition program and, perhaps, beyond that into Sustainability, their competencies accrue. They learn time management so they can get up in time for their paying jobs. They learn to be good, responsible employees. They learn to function as independent adults and, wow, does that ever feel good!

We All Need Real-life Social Connection, Face-to-face

Another component of self-esteem and well-being is being able to connect socially in a positive way. Many of our clients, from spending too much of their childhoods in front of screens, have either never developed good social skills or have lost confidence in their skills. They have friends online, in gaming communities, but those communication skills are often not pro-social and, even if pro-social, they may not translate into face-to-face social competence.

A beautiful thing happens at reSTART. In safe and intimate spaces, first at the Ranch and later at Heavensfield and Open World, our clients learn the skills of friendship-making. And their friendships are not the usual male-bonding friendships just covering gaming, sports and other external things. Instead, our clients learn to be honest and vulnerable with each other. They develop a capacity for real intimacy, a deep level of friendship that is unusual in our culture. This lays the foundation for the future, both in building friendships with men and women, but also in developing healthy, romantic relationships.

Treatment for Screen Addictions like Internet Video Game Addiction  Improves Health and Happiness

Long-term happiness and well-being are built on developing health in the realms of the physical, the mental, and the social. reSTART understands this. By providing the ingredients necessary to build health in all of these realms, our clients are able to grow and flourish in the rich environment we offer.

reSTART your life.

call 800.682.6934

Replacement Activity List Made By People in Recovery for Video Game Addiction

Is Video Game Addiction Stealing My Child’s Motivation?

Is Video Game Addiction Stealing My Child’s Motivation?

How Do Video Games Affect Motivation, Leading, Potentially to the need for Video Game Addiction Treatment?

Video games may distort a person’s perception of effort, achievement, reward, progress and growth. While the extent of this impact on people could vary, prolonged exposure certainly has the potential to exacerbate these effects (up to 4% of all gamers become addicts, according to a conservative estimate by the World Health Organization last year). This is because video games are created to keep a player’s attention through sustained, instant gratification. There will always be another level to overcome, better armor to find, more items to collect, a score or leaderboard position to beat, etc. At all times throughout the game, there will be multiple achievements and an intertwining, low-effort/high reward dynamic that is in no way reflective of principles of achievement in the real world.

Can Video Games Affect My Child’s Brain, Making Him or Her Vulnerable to Video Game Addiction and the Need for Treatment?

Our brains are constantly changing to our environment, adapting so that it can most optimally operate. The way that the brain changes refers to a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, the ability to change neural structures as a result of learning and experience. Because of the brain’s ability to adapt, it is possible that video games can condition a mind to learn that growth and progress are instantaneous, sapping the motivation and energy to engage in long-term planning and delayed gratification. If the brain learns that instant gratification through video games satisfy its need for reward, how can energy for sustained effort through long-term, meaningful pursuits ever become realized?

What can I do? When Do I Need to Seek Treatment for Video Game Addiction?

Internet Gaming Addiction is a “pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences (World Health Organization, 2018).” Like other addictions, significant impairment in educational/occupational pursuits, family involvement, and social/personal functioning across a 12-month span needs to be observed for a diagnosis to be rendered.

If you or a loved one appears to be engaged in chronic gaming, affecting functioning and taking away from the motivation to engage meaningfully in life, treatment may be necessary in order to restore balance, health, and a real sense of growth, reward, and accomplishment.

 

World Health Organization: Gaming Disorder. (2018, September 14). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/

reSTART your life.

call 800.682.6934

Brief Internet Game Screen for Parents (BIGS-P)

Understanding your son or daughter’s gaming behavior this past year

Instructions: This screen assists people in making decisions about the way their son or daughter engages in gaming activities. Please answer these questions based on your son or daughter’s engagement with gaming over the past year (i.e., 12 months).
For clarification, “games or gaming” are catchall terms which include online (i.e., the Internet) and offline engagement with games (e.g., video games, console games, handheld games, cellular phone or tablet games, computer games) or use of any other device capable of playing games, and includes the viewing of current or past games being played or broadcast (e.g., eSports).

*This tool is adapted from the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) developed to measure gambling behavior, and the DSM-5 criteria for IGD. Developed by Cosette Rae, MSW, LICSW, ACSW

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