If you use Facebook, then you’ve seen them, whether you wanted to or not. Online games. Ones that require “real-time” interaction, growing crops, robbing your fellow mafia members, crushing candy, or raising zombies. All these games can be a lot of fun, but they can also be addictive. According to CNN, the American Psychiatric Association has proposed that “Internet Use Disorder” be further studied and possibly included in a future revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “Globally, we spend 1 billion hours per year inside games.”
So how can you avoid getting addicted to these highly addictive online games?
Avoid starting Internet games
This one might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not. It’s so easy to start a game with the intent of not getting addicted, or thinking that this game just won’t take up that much time, but in reality, we all know better. It’s easy to start, and it’s easier to continue. I spent way too much time playing Mafia Wars way back when, and it taught me to avoid any new games that might suck me in. I don’t garden, I don’t farm, I don’t do anything that might require me to keep logging in and checking on things, interacting with people I don’t know, or sending requests to friends and family members to try to grow my empire/farm/town/zombies. Even if you’ve already started one game, limit yourself to just that one. It is much easier to not start than it is to stop.
Limit your own online time
If you find that you are becoming addicted to online games, use a timer to keep yourself under control. They make apps for most phone operating systems (Android/iOs/Windows) that will work as a timer, or go old fashioned and buy an egg timer! Set yourself a limit per day – say an hour. Then use that timer to make sure you don’t use the game any more time then you’ve allowed. It is hard at first to pare it down if you are already playing games, but if you’re interested in getting started, this is a good way to make sure that you don’t spend too much time and get addicted.
Develop “real world” hobbies
Computers are awesome. Video games are awesome. I could spend my life on the computer. But that’s just the problem. Instead, figure out something productive to do with your time. Take a class to learn how to draw. Buy cross stitch, knitting, or crochet kits. Find books or movies that you like, then find a group that meets and talks about them. You can find groups at your local library, book store, even through Yahoo! Groups or Meetup.com. Don’t limit yourself, either. There are also adult sport leagues, including softball and kickball. Find a real-world game or even a group of board game enthusiasts. My local Barnes & Noble has a “Go” group that meets and plays games on a regular basis; maybe yours does, too!
China Fights Online Gaming Addiction
Use games as a reward, not a habit
This is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you don’t get addicted to those games (or that you get away from them if you are already addicted). Instead of going to the game every time you get bored or when you know you need to check those crops, make it something that you give yourself in return for something else. You can use to-do lists to help you. What do you need to accomplish during the course of a day? Make that list, and after you’ve done two or three things, rewards yourself with a limited amount of game time. You may find that working for 45 to 50 minutes (generally the longest anyone can focus on a task), taking a ten minute break to play a game helps to let you relax and reset, ready to work more. Just be sure that you aren’t interrupting your work to play your game. The game is a reward, not a habit.
Your Online Gaming Habits
Ignore peer pressure
Just the other day, I was watching TV and there was a commercial for a particular game that I won’t name but I will say it involves confectionery treats and what you can do to destroy them. I almost choked on my drink. Online games have taken to the television to advertise! Like it wasn’t bad enough that we saw them every time we went to search or opened a browser, now they are invading our evening television viewing. Well, that’s okay. Ignore it. You don’t need to play it just because other people are. Remember how your mother used to ask if you’d jump off a bridge? Well, don’t just off this bridge, either. The games are just that – games. And a true friend won’t force you to play them.
All that being said, don’t be condescending or mean to people who enjoy their online games. Feel free to block them in Facebook, but there’s no need to post a rant about how horrible the games are and how much you’re bothered by game requests. Think of the like spam or junk mail: toss them and move on with your life. Or share your own tips to help get your friends off the games.
Firoz from India on June 29, 2013:
Impressive hub on How to Avoid Online Gaming Addiction. Voted up.