Therapist says new addiction has some unable to unplug - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Therapist says new addiction has some unable to unplug

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(WMC-TV) - A new kind of addiction has mental health counselors worried.

"I'd come home, and if there was a day where the wife's not home, I'd just go in and play for hours and hours," said Nate Hall.

Playing a video game may be common, but Hall realized he was not healthy.

"I would fully say I was addicted," said Hall.  "I would probably say I'm still kind of addicted."

Hall would try to quit playing for a week or two, but would find himself getting stressed out and irritable.  This behavior is not surprising to therapist Pamela Sanabria.

Sanabria said "media addiction" may soon be added to the official book on mental disorders.  She said parents should keep an eye out for warning signs among children.

"You may notice headaches and backaches just because of the physical posture necessary to do these games," said Sanabria.

Sanabria suggested limiting video games to an hour or so a day and never letting it interfere with homework.

Nate Hall's brother, Evan Hall, admitted he played games so much he did not go to class in college.  However, he rejected the "addict" label.

"I never really saw myself like that," said Evan Hall.  "I haven't really seen others like that because I don't really meet a lot of people."

Sanabria said that is a warning sign.  Games interfered with Evan Hall's education.  Coming between relationships and work are also sings for a problem, as well as having to use the media device more often to feel satisfied.

Sanabria said other warning signs were lying about or hiding how much you use it and getting irritated or depressed if you try to stop.

This does not just apply to video games.  Smart phones can also be addictive.

"Relationships require sacrifice and require time investment," said Sanabria.  "So when we invest our time in a device or activity that doesn't involve others that are important to us, it can have negative effects on the family and our relationships."

A relationship is exactly what got Nate Hall to break his gaming habit.  His baby boy was born weeks ago.

"Now that I have a son, you can't just go online," he said.  "You can't keep playing a match of Halo and your baby crying in the background.  I just haven't really had much reason to play, haven't really had much want to play."

Therapists suggest cutting back video game and smart phone use little by little and rewarding yourself if you reach a goal.

If you feel that you do not have much self-control, a counselor may be able to help.

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