EDIT: For more information about problems with mental health and addiction see http://www.olganon.org/forum/discussion-parents-olg-anon-members-only/mental-health-and-gaming-addiction
First, I want to share I am a recovering video game addict. I didn't begin playing video games regularly until my stepson introduced me to them when I was in my 40's. I was an adult, life was good, I was unaware that video games could even be an addiction. I am also a recovering alcoholic and had been sober for years and so know to stay away from mood altering substances. I have alcoholism in my family tree and know addiction is genetic and to be cautious.
All that said, no one told me or you or your kids that video games could be addictive. I started gaming and within 8 years, my life was as if a nuclear bomb had dropped on it. In many ways my video game addiction was more severe and caused more destruction both in my external life as well as internally in my sense of identity, self-esteem, ambition, etc, than my alcoholism.
I have been free of video games for almost 2 years now and can say that for this recovering alcoholic/addict, from what I experienced, from hearing other recovering video game addicts share similar experiences, from doing the research into the latest findings in scientific and medical journals which are showing that video games can affect the brain chemistry and structure (via MRI/catscan images) similar to excessive use of stimulant drugs like methamphethamine or cocaine, I have zero doubt that video games overstimulate the brain and are a digital drug which, like alcohol or other drugs, will cause a percentage of the population to become addicted.
The only solution when this happens is abstinence.
When addiction happens, the outward symptoms mimic a lot of mental health diseases. As an addict, whether I am 16 or 55:
* I will lie, blame, threaten, act antisocial, be depressed, anxious, etc when I am gaming.
* I will con you or any therapist and make you believe the problem is my "depression" or you or anything other than my video games. I will be successful in conning you and doctors for the simple reason that I believe it myself when I am actively in my addiction.
* No amount of psychiatric drugs or therapy will work.
The amazing thing is, once the drug (video games) is completely removed, I will become a normal, sane, social, healthy person - it might take a little time (recovery on average takes about 9-24 months for brain chemistry to detox/stabilize).
I see the tremendous number of young kids and adults and the parents of them whose lives are in chaos - who have been told they/their child have some mental illness simply because no one recognized they were in active addiction.
I guess my purpose of sharing this to parents is to let you know you are doing the right thing to remove video games completely from your child's life if you suspect they are playing a role in the problems and to not let anyone, especially your child, convince you you aren't being fair or that the problem is something else.
If video games can take down someone who had a healthy life and was in their 40's, 50's, and 60's, the way it has to a number of us recovering video game addicts, I cannot begin to comprehend the damage it is doing to young people, especially those whose brains are still developing.
Hugs, Lisa Video game free since 4/17/2014