Problematic video gaming not only affects the gamer, but also causes a ripple effect that impacts their family and others who care about him or her. Their gaming can become the source of conflicts and arguments. Those close to the gamer often feel helpless when it comes to the power that video games seemingly have over the gamer. They may also have concerns about behavioural or mood changes they have noticed in the gamer, or that their gaming is having a detrimental effect on the gamer’s job, studies or social life.
Family members and partners can be an important driver and source of support to help those with gaming problems take control over their gaming and motivate him or her to seek help. How you talk to the gamer about your concerns can be very important in relation to effecting a change in behaviour.
As a family member or partner of someone with a video game addiction, you may be entitled to specialist treatment. You must first obtain a referral from a GP or NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) to receive such treatment.
What can you do as a family member or partner?
It can be difficult to understand what a video game addiction entails. Getting more of an insight into the nature of addiction can help you reduce or better manage any fear or frustration you may be feeling, reduce the number/severity of your conflicts with the addict and help you both develop a more solution-oriented focus. An addict often goes through a lot of different emotions, not least shame, guilt and fear of rejection. These emotions can manifest themselves as anger, frustration or reclusion, and it is naturally hard for a family member or partner to deal with such behaviour. Learning about the nature of the addiction, however, can make it a little easier. The person who has developed an addiction can similarly benefit from learning more about their addiction. We recommend learning about the addiction together. It is important for family members and partners of video game addicts to understand and accept that the manner in which they behave stems from the addiction and not the person themselves.
It is normal to feel a sense of guilt or bad conscience when you discover that someone you care about has developed a problem. In practice, codependency entails you providing care to the video game addict based on your own sense of guilt, as opposed to what is really best for the addict.
The gamer must personally contact their general practitioner and other support services to get help with their gaming problems. Learn more about how to get treatment here.
Where can family members and partners get help?
The family and partner of a video game addict may also require help to cope with the difficulties they face. As a family member or partner of someone with a video game addiction, you may be entitled to specialist treatment. You must first obtain a referral from a GP or NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) to receive such treatment. There are several places in Norway where specialist health services offer help for family members and partners of video game addicts.
Familievernkontoret is a low-threshold service where you can seek help if you are going through serious relationship problems. Because this is a low-threshold service, you do not need a referral from a GP to contact them. You can call them directly to book an appointment.
Family members and partners of addicts can also book appointments at video game addiction treatment clinics. Talk to your GP about getting a referral.
It can often be helpful to talk to someone who is in the same situation as you. Spillavhengighet Norge is an organisation for gambling and video game addicts and their family/partners and organises regular network meetings across Norway for family members/partners. Spillavhengighet Norge also has a helpline where you can talk to someone going through the same experience.
Their helpline is a service aimed at the video game addict as well as their family or partner. Family members/partners can also make an anonymous call to 800 800 40 for advice or visit pages with information specifically written for them.
Spillkontroll.no has a useful online self-help course for family members and partners of video game addicts. Among other things, the course teaches you how to talk to the gamer about their gaming problems, how you can help and support him or her and how they can also take care of themselves.
Medietilsynet (The Norwegian Media Authority) has helpful information and advice for parents who are worried that their child is spending too much time on video games.
- Take the self-assessment test together. You can take the test here.
- Talk to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about options such as blocking internet access for certain periods of the day.
- Keep in mind that there are many video games that are free to play, but try to entice gamers to purchase items, perks, etc. within the game.
- Reach out for help.