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Addiction to video games and social networks – differences and symptoms

Addiction to video games and social networks – differences and symptoms


Video game addiction came to be considered a mental health problem by the World Health Organization (WHO), which included it in the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases).

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1. Symptoms of video game addiction

According to the WHO, the diagnosis can be made if, for a period of at least 12 months, the following symptoms are present:

  • Lack of control over the game (in terms of frequency, intensity and duration)
  • Prioritization of games over other activities and interests
  • Significant impairment of personal, family, social, educational and occupational functioning

This classification brought advantages, in the sense that having a specific diagnosis may help to apply an equally specialized treatment for this type of disorder. However, it is important to be careful not to use the diagnosis excessively and the tendency to stereotype the gamers.

2. Causes of video game addiction

Video game addiction, like other addictions, can be caused by a depressive condition in which the person feels unmotivated, sad and apathetic in relation to their surroundings, using the game to escape their negative reality. While it can be a cause, depression can also become a consequence of overuse of games.

The same happens with social networks. Although network addiction is not yet considered a mental disorder, its effect on the brain is similar to that of any other addiction. Both likes and comments also trigger pleasure triggers as they function as reward systems.

3. Consequences of video game addiction

Addiction to social media can lead to problems such as:

  • Anxiety and Depression

Images that demonstrate unattainable happiness, material goods and people’s lifestyle, as well as unpleasant comments, can lead to feelings of inferiority, frustration and inadequacy, generating anxiety and depression. The person may feel that their life is inferior and start to have a more negative self-image derived from social comparison. Also, negative news about the world and society can lead to increased fears about the present and the future.


  • Pressure

The person may feel pressured to “be productive” in order to achieve success or a dream life like those seen on social media, especially when accessing information, news, articles, professional pages is so easy.


  • FOMO:Fear of missing out (of not knowing something)

When observing the lives of others, the person may start to feel afraid that they are not being equally productive or that they are not enjoying their lives well – for example, because they are not traveling, going out with friends or having different experiences. .


  • Pursuit of perfection

To be a successful person in all areas of your life (personal, professional, social and family), and any “failure” may seem decisive to define your life as a failure.

Wanting to have a perfect body and a beauty identical to the following people is also a risk factor for the development of eating disorders. Also, diets and recipes, often with poor nutritional value, begin to be followed, often in a rigid and obsessive way.


  • Procrastination

Excessive internet use contributes to a sedentary lifestyle and to the postponement of tasks that I had to do. This procrastination will fuel the cycle of “not being productive” or that, once again, interesting experiences or activities have been missed, leading to increased frustration, sadness and irritability.


  • Isolation

Despite being connected online, people are increasingly disconnected in the real world. They feel that it is easier to find people with similar interests to theirs through the internet, ending up just interacting virtually. However, we are social beings who need physical contact to gain a sense of belonging and affection.

4. Strategies for dealing with internet addiction

Some of the strategies for dealing with this type of addiction are listed below:

  • Set a time limit spent using these gaming or social media platforms
  • Try doing a “detox” for at least an entire weekend without attending these platforms and see the benefits that can arise from it.
  • Plan pleasurable activities and/or that you have talent. If there is an end result, share it with family and friends.
  • Take care of body and mind: exercise and try meditation (you can also meditate while listening to music, resting outdoors, walking, among others).
  • Get together with family and friends.


It may be necessary to seek help from a professional or treatment clinic, as addiction is extremely difficult to manage on your own. Family members or friends may become, for the person, an obstacle to the continuation of these “sources of pleasure”, even if they are immediate and with serious consequences when they reach greater proportions.

So don’t try to face this problem alone, andtalk to us now so that together we can reverse the situation.


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