I’ve taken you on this leap into my past because it seems as though the same short-sighted, self-righteous state of mind still applies to teens today. His or her publication of meaningless Status Updates and uninformative Tweets are enough to drive any educated person up the wall. Taking it a step further, teen’s have begun a migration to Instagram, where they seem to think applying one of twelve preset filters to pictures of absolutely nothing makes them the next Ansel Adams. Should parents care? Not particularly if they know their child is keeping things appropriate and not destroying their chances to get into college in a few years. (Insider tip for parents: you don’t have to know EVERYTHING your teen is doing online, but social monitoring or using parental intelligence is always a good safety net.) But for some teens, this “constantly-connected” lifestyle is being taken to extremes, and I’m here to tell you about 6 key indicators that could point to your teen’s phone or social media addiction.
If unanswered texts or Tweets get your teen spinning into a tizzy, there’s a good chance that their smartphone is adding stress to their life rather than making it easier. It might be that his phone and his social media comes before everything else and is constantly interrupting his day — whether it’s writing a history paper or spending some quality time with the family. When your teen starts getting anxious about their inbox, Facebook wall, or Twitter feed, make him take a moment to step back, and remind him that it’s probably not as urgent as it seems. Often times, requiring your teen to sleep with his phone away from his bed or keeping it in his backpack instead of a pocket during class can gradually help to lessen his urge to be constantly checking for updates.
At times, you see your teen check his phone as if they have a new message, only to scrunch his face with a puzzled look as no new messages have appeared on their phone even though “they swear they felt it vibrate” Phantom cellphone vibration syndrome is a real sign of technology addiction — and it’s more common than you might think. A study conducted at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne found that 89 percentof undergraduates had experienced feeling nonexistent cellphone vibrations.
Is your child the mayor of your house, the nearest convenience store, the local pizza shop, the bowling alley and his high school? Yikes, they might need some time away from Foursquare. As an aside, make sure your child doesn’t have a public profile, or his check ins could be seen by everyone, including the people you definitely DON’T want seeing where your child is every minute of the day.
Is your child’s excuse for having his phone on them at all times always that he “Doesn’t want to miss out on anything”? Well, there’s an acronym for that: FOMO. It’s become common for teens who use social media and smartphones to experience a “fear of missing out”. When they’re unable to get to their phones or when they’re getting updates about all the exciting things that everyone in their social network is doing and feeling depressed about it, it’s time for a technology timeout.
If that mobile device has a name like a pet, your teen may want to keep it secret. The latest reports explain: 29 percent of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.” Catch your teen referring to their phone by persona or name? Maybe it’s time for a surgical-separation.
If your teen is having an increasingly difficult time focusing in his classes and eagerly awaiting the ringing of the bell so that they can check his phone and return that unanswered text, an Internet or smartphone addiction could be partially to blame for low grades. The uKnowKids dashboard offers an industry unique feature allowing parents to see when their teen is most active on their social media and smartphones. Seeing a direct correlation between digital activities and dropping grades has never been easier for parents.
Some might argue that it’s impossible to get addicted to video games on your phone, although it’s clear that it definitely has an effect on people whose lives soon revolve around apps in an unhealthy way.
Director of the International Gaming Research Unit Dr Mark Griffiths published a study about adolescent mobile phone addiction in 2013, and he said that financial implications can be the best way to judge whether or not you actually have an addiction.
“The crucial difference between some forms of mobile phone use and pathological mobile phone use is that some applications involve a financial cost. If a person is using the application more and is spending more money, there may be negative consequences as a result of not being able to afford the activity (e.g. negative economic, job-related, and/or family consequences).
“High expenditure may also be indicative of mobile phone addiction but the phone bills of adolescents are often paid for by parents, therefore the financial problems may not impact on the users themselves.”
Many games are marketed at children, but it’s also possible for adults to overspend. (After all, they control the money.)
In any case, despite his credibility, I think he’s wrong. (Or only half-right.) Money isn’t the only important factor, as the time taken playing games should also be taken into account. Since many games can make you wait, and most free apps are arguably a waste of time, you’re paying in one form or another.
People with addictive personalities are always going to be at risk, but how and why do they get hooked in the first place? From Reddit communities dedicated to staying away from online gaming, to the history of mobile gaming itself, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
We’ve spoken to developers, psychologists and gamers themselves to put together a comprehensive review of all there is to know about mobile gaming addiction, with enough tips, help and information to get a better understanding of the subject.
History of Mobile Games
Evolution of Mobile Games
Free to Play Structures
Ad Based Games
The Psychology of Game Addiction
Some people debate whether you can actually get addicted to gaming in the first place. We searched for some of the most relevant academic sources, to see what they would they thought.
Joe Hilgard, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science.
“Gamers who are really into getting to the next level or collecting all of the in-game items seem to have unhealthier video-game use.When people talk about games being ‘so addictive,’ usually they’re referring to games like Farmville or Diablo that give players rewards, such as better equipment or stronger characters, as they play. People who are especially motivated by these rewards can find it hard to stop playing.”
Razi, S. (2015) Level of Frustration Discomfort Tolerance and Social Interaction Anxiety in Online Gaming Addicts (B.S.). Centre for Clinical Psychology, University of the Punjab.
“Online gaming addiction, as other behavioural addictions, has been known to cause tolerance which causes the addicts to play more and more as well as the need to escape negative feelings, which are mostly frustration, anger, boredom as well as lack of social interaction. The low levels of frustration tolerance, in turn makes the gamers impulsive and ready to use their money to progress in the games.”
Langley, A. (2010). Correlates of Video Game Addiction (Master of Science). University of North Texas.
Langley (2010) states that video game addiction often leads to a tremendous burden on those afflicted with the condition, draining their time, resources, and life away until they have nothing left. The research a showed a high correlation between addictive video game use and a desire for escapism and lack of self-control.
Young, K. (2009). Understanding Online Gaming Addiction and Treatment Issues for Adolescents. The American Journal of Family Therapy
Young (2009) explained that addiction to online games can cause a tremendous amount of consequences to the gamer. Gaming addicts willingly forgo sleep, food, and real human contact just to experience more time in the virtual world. Gaming addicts must play for long periods of time to excel at the game, which makes them forget/ neglect their real life interactions and duties at hand.
So, it’s clear that experts across the world recognise that certain negative behaviours can be caused by mobile gaming, noting a lack of self-control that causes some user to part with heaps of money.
On that note…
Pokémon Go is the latest craze in terms of mobile gaming, and it has many similar features to some of the biggest and best mobile games.
There’s still a timer, but they’ve (rather cleverly) packaged it slightly differently. Walking is the currency most of us would like to bypass, and we can spend real money to make things happen a little faster. It becomes way more pronounced at later levels, especially when it comes to levelling up your Pokémon.
Does that sound familiar? It should, and it’s made worse because it comes wrapped in the nostalgic package of one of the greatest RPG’s of all time, with most of the best elements stripped away.
In my review of the app I spoke about how it’s strangely addictive, drawing you in as you start filling the Pokédex and levelling your first Pokémon.
Listen to this description of late game levelling, courtesy of Forbes:
“It might not seem very high to anyone that’s blown up to level 10 in a couple of days, but anyone who has made it level 20 knows how quickly the experience required starts to ramp up in this game.
“Few have made it to level 30, and it seems that it’s going to take a very long time to hit up to the supposed cap of 40.
“To put some numbers on that progression, it appears to take 5 million experience just to go from level 39 to 40: anyone who’s spent time min/maxing evolutions and lucky eggs knows that it could take months to get up there even under the best of circumstances.”
The number of Pokéballs you need to catch Pokémon will increase as you play, with one user confirming it took over 1000 to get from level 29 to 30. He notes;
“I cannot stress how ridiculous this would be for someone playing [without] spending coins on Pokéballs (i.e. playing the game [free to play] – which is the majority).”
It’ll take a while if you plan to catch them all.
Macquarie Securities discussed how the game draws you in, before incentivising players to spend money through nearly every aspect of gameplay:
“It has more (monetisation) than we expected; as users build their Pokémon inventory, spending money becomes needed to store, train, hatch, and battle.”
Of course, it makes sense to give the game longevity, but it would have been better if they focused on adding more actual content. Aside from gyms and catching Pokémon, it’s a pretty barebones experience.
The Good and Bad of FTP Gaming
Free to play gaming makes lots of people happy, and it’s a great way to pass the time as long as you do it in moderation. Most people are unaffected by the mechanics that keep a player suckered in for the most part, and there are lots of games out there that do things fairly, offering only cosmetic upgrades as optional extras. If it doesn’t affect the gameplay, it’s probably fair enough if the entry price was free of charge.
An article about mobile gaming addiction is never going to be a barrel of laughs. It’s comforting to think that the majority of us aren’t susceptible, and data supports the idea that only a minuscule number of users will pay the price.
Nonetheless, there are lots of great games to choose from, that will let you catch up with family or people you don’t often get to see if you play online.
If you’re looking for the TL;DR version, have a look at some of the main points below.
It might not sound like it, but there are lots of positives when it comes to mobile gaming. Virtual Reality could easily supplant augmented reality, but the games are expensive and it’ll be hard to monetise them effectively.
- Offers a chance to socialise with others
- Free at the point of entry, (and nobody is forcing you to pay)
- Some games are genuinely great
- Lots of choices
- Phone technology is constantly improving
- People do have fun playing without spending, depending on the game
Let’s just get straight to the not so good:
- A small number of people can get badly addicted, but most are just tempted
(The minority pay a reasonably heavy cost, in more ways than one. There’s the literal sense, but time and relationships can also be affected. If you’re the breadwinner in a household, is it worth spending time and money on a game that will never be complete? (Then again, there are worse vices in life.)
- Games are sometimes made solely to make money, and not necessarily to be played and enjoyed without spending
- Many games don’t have an ending (sometimes considered to be a perk)
- Mobile games can’t match PC or consoles in most areas
- Every store is stuffed with poor apps
- The idea of gamers being seen as whales
Put simply, there’s only one thing you can do to get free of the hooks carefully placed around you while playing.
Delete the app, and never play it again.
Legislation and Regulation
Planning to quit
If you really want to call it a day, here’s a short list with things you can do to shake off the shackles of a long term gaming addiction. (After researching this article, I’ve decided to limit my own playing time.)
- Cutting down should be the first step. Set an alarm if you don’t trust yourself, and stick to the time you said you would stop.
- Once again, the StopGaming subreddit has a lot of people that have similar experiences.
- Measure the time you spend playing games for a month with a productivity app and multiply it by 12. Is that really how long you want to spend gaming each year?
- It’s drastic, but selling everything could be useful if you know you can’t trust yourself.
- The app store allows you to limit spending, or even stop all IAP’s from your Google account.
- If you have nothing to do, you’ll probably end up gaming. Planning activities throughout the day could be enough to help see you through the week.
If you have any tips or experiences, please let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
In many ways, mobile gaming is a monster. A giant, unregulated beast that typically uses gambling techniques and psychology in an attempt to extract as much money as possible. It’s a cynical view, but there’s an argument that they’ve ripped any artistic merit from the game, because the point is that you don’t want to make it too fun.
If it’s too fun, people won’t want to pay, but if it’s boring they’ll just delete it. Therefore, it’s all about striking a balance, creating an addictive experience that gives the player an endorphin rush, while making them wait just long enough to be tempted to open their wallet.
Some people can play for free forever, and others lack the willpower to wait it out when the timer inevitably comes into play. It’s down to the individual, and it’s tough if developers are banking on a few players to pay for everyone.
There are lots of perks that have been forgotten in this article, but addiction isn’t a fun subject. If you feel like you’re spending too much time or money on gaming, check the subreddit for tips from people who have been through it themselves, or go through the list in the section above.
Has mobile gaming been positive or negative in your experience? Most of us can strike a balance and still have fun, but it must be tough for the people affected by a compulsion to keep spending or playing when the fun stops.
Source: Joy of Android