Escaping video game addiction: Cam Adair at TEDxBoulder

Escaping video game addiction: Cam Adair at TEDxBoulder


Translator: Géraldine Géraldine
Reviewer: Queenie Lee For over ten years,
I was addicted to playing video games. This addiction affected
many areas of my life, including being a major
influence in my decision to drop out of high school
at the age of 15. Eventually, my parents got on my case
to get a job, so I got one. I say “got” because I pretended
to have a job for months. Every morning at 7 a.m.,
my dad would drop me off at the restaurant where I was a prep cook. After he drove off, I’d walk across the street
and catch the bus back home, sneaking in through my window
and going to sleep. I’d been up all night playing video games. The truth is I didn’t want
to do these things – I just did. The addiction controlled the behavior. Three years ago,
I decided to make a change. I just moved back home to Calgary, Canada,
from living on Vancouver Island, and I couldn’t get over this feeling
of immense disappointment in myself. I moved to Vancouver Island
inspired to take on new challenges, only to be left playing video games
16 hours a day for five months straight. I felt like a failure, and unfortunately,
this was a feeling I knew too well. So I did what anybody would do: I Googled it! And the answers I found – (Laughter) (Applause) and the answers I found
were incredibly frustrating. There were suggestions
like “study more,” when the whole reason I was playing
video games was to avoid studying, or to hang out with friends
when all my friends played video games. Not knowing what else to do,
I decide to quit cold-turkey, and after a few months, I learned key lessons that led
to major breakthroughs in my recovery. And knowing others
were struggling with this addiction, I decided to share my story. I wrote a blog post online titled
“How to quit playing video games forever,” and the response: overwhelming. But is video game addiction
really that big of a problem? I mean, we are talking
about video games here. Sure, I had my own
personal experience with it, but did this problem scale,
or was I just one of the unlucky ones? Current research suggests
that 97 percent of youth play video games, which equates to 64 million kids,
in the US alone, between the ages of 2 and 17, with the fastest-growing age
were kids aged 2 to 5. In the UK, 10% more kids aged 2 to 5 know
how to operate a smartphone application, then know how to tie their own shoes. Unfortunately, the debate
surrounding video games focuses on whether you should play or not, when that’s like saying
should you drink or not, if you can do it
in moderation, that’s fine. But what if you can’t, what if right now
you are stuck at home playing video games, and you want to stop and don’t know how. Imagine for a second
how this makes you feel. Do you feel a sense of pain? What about feelings of guilt, shame,
do you feel confident, anxious, depressed? Now, this wouldn’t be a good TEDx talk
unless I shared the lessons I learned and how you can use them to help yourself or someone you know
overcome this addiction. It’s not about the games;
it’s about why you play the games. If you can understand why you play games,
you can move on from them. There are four main reasons
why you play games. First, they are a temporary escape. After a tough breakup at the age of 18, playing games online
gave me the perfect way of not having to deal with the situation. I could simply get absorbed in games
and play for hours and hours. Second, games are social. Staying home on a Friday night
doesn’t seem so bad when you are at home playing games
with your friends online. Not only that, but games offer
a clean slate on the social ladder. Being bullied when I was younger didn’t exactly leave me feeling
very confident in my social standing. I felt misunderstood, unaccepted,
and unsure how to fix it, even though I want it too. Playing games online
gave me this opportunity; I could be who I wanted to be;
nobody knew my history, and I was judged based
on my ability to play the game and not on my current social standing. Third, games are a challenge. They give you a sense of purpose,
a mission, a goal to work towards. This is an achievement paradigm, achievements multiply the opportunities
to experience success. Finally, you see constant
measurable growth. This is a feedback loop.
You get to see progress. When you are at school, you struggle
to improve your social standing, but online you are able to see rewards
for the efforts you’ve put in. Consider how it feels when you’re finally
able to see progress in something; consider how it feels when you are able to see that the goal
you’ve set out for is achievable; combine these four areas,
and you have a very addicting process. So where do we go from here?
How do we fix this problem? Video game addiction
is a habit developed over time by becoming your go-to activity
whenever you’re bored. So parents, it starts with you. I’m sorry to say, but the iPad
is not the new babysitter. They need interaction, not entertainment.
Next, game was played for various – (Applause) Next, games were played
for very specific reasons. Identify their motivations and help them
find these in other activities, help them with their social skills. The truth is they struggle
to make friends. Lastly, don’t punish them
for their desire to play these games. Come from a place of compassion
and encouragement, not judgment. We are so caught up in asking
whether this is a real addiction or not that we’ve lost sight
of what truly matters: How do we help these people
stop playing video games? But there is another way. The truth is this is about the idea of feeling trapped in something
you want to move on from. It’s about the freedom
to live the way that you want and on your own terms, and sometimes all you need is permission. Permission to move on from something
you want to move on from. Permission to stop playing video games. So if you’re out there, whether in the audience
or watching at home, I want you to understand one thing:
you have permission. Thank you. (Cheering) (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Escaping video game addiction: Cam Adair at TEDxBoulder

  1. HI. I have just closed a game a came in here, 3rd vid I have seen. I am studying Ing and for diferente circunstancies I have started the year wrongly, right after I said "this year Will be the good one" a bunch of things came to my life. Family problems I was delivered to solve, My sweet cat developed cancer and I was taking care of her. During 2 weeks, non stop vet visits, so stressed and she end up dying anyway. Broke my heart. After that I had to find another baby cat to help my other cat, to not feel so lonely since I had to leave for study. Then that cat got ill, same symptoms as the dead one. Eventually everything solves up and I realized I am 1 Month behind and have to do such a big effort to catch up and I don't want to and feel angry. Because I felt I was really commited to not end up this way. So I found myself playing video games all day, sometimes loosing, sometimes winning. Just stopping 15 mins in between to eat and check up on the other game. And thinking everytime a round finishes "I have to study", and start again. I lie about it, I hide how many times I play by playing with different accounts. I wake up at 5 AM and start playing, shower at 7 pm, 2 hours before my boyfriend comes home, so It would look like I have done something out or wathever. I feel awful. Then he comes, without knowing anything and ask me if I want to play and I just cry inside because I really don't want to go on like this. Then I Say yes, because I know I can't do anything else knowing he is playing because my mind is thinking about it every second.
    I know I can stop this by deleting the game and I Will do it right now. I just wish I could be strong enough to have it and control myself.
    Lastly, I want to say thank you. That last sentence Made me cry and I don't even know why but thank you for letting me know I have permission. I feel I really needed to have it. Sorry for the bad English, writing from Argentina.

  2. It hurts when ppl find gaming addiction humorous. Ppl are hurting, and ppl want to be condescending about it. My husbands addiction lead him to get physical to me and my kids. When he was losing or when he was interrupted by our toddlers, he would get so mad. I could go to know one cos no one is equipped to help. No one takes it seriously. And telling me to join him so it could help my marriage was a kick in the teeth.

  3. I don't want to waste time playing games but it seems so sad not to experience my childhood games again. Never to level up in World of Warcraft again, never play attack power Malzahar in league of legends again and never get a legendary card in hearthstone again..

  4. I play games for hours a day… and the only reason why I play is literally because I'm bored all the time.
    Video games are also fun and I love talking with my friends.

  5. A really nice talk. I played video games all my life and I've been able to enjoy it healthily for the most part, however there are times where it does get a little too much or when I should be focusing on other things. So I'll definitely be trying to adjust my gaming to manage it in moderation a bit more. This speech was very eye opening, well done!

  6. Videogames addiction is awful. But playing video games like a normal human being for like an hour (MAYBE two? don't know) a day and after these hours say "ok im gonna stop now and i'll do something else" is absolutely healthy. You can't control your hobby? that's your problem,it's not the hobby that is at fault, but your personality and character.

  7. The amount of babies and kids I see that play with iPads at restaurants is sad. They aren't part of the family. These parents aren't aware.

  8. I'm a gamer but I spend time with my family and talk to my girlfriend and even read novels. So guess I can say I'm not addicted 😂. Glad u guys are doing other things rather then jus game.

  9. There should be a game that helps you stop game addiction:
    Achiements unlocked for hours not playing said game.
    Achievement unlocked for staying at level 1 for 7 days straight.
    Achievement unlocked for not beating the game for 12 months straight.
    Congratualations, you've now beaten the game.

  10. Moderation is key. If youre playing more than lets say 2 hours a day, then it can easily become an issue sooner or later and create health problems. Video games, as much as you might love them, just as me, should not become a full time activity or overdued. Millions of people are in that condition and dont even realize it. Just like i was. Nowadays i set a time limit per day to play. I set alarms till after 2 hours after i started playing and i respect those alarms religiously. Not only i enjoy games even more now during my game session as i also have time to improve my being in many other fields that make me healthier. Discipline your mind, guys. Can be tough but totally worth it and doable! 🙂

  11. Not real sure how this video was supposed to help. It's just like the Google responses he said he received. It's like saying go out and ride a bike to someone who's never ridden a bike before or telling a drug addict to go out and enjoy all the things they enjoy doing but without drugs.

  12. I do it for the social aspect. Im forced into moderation but i believe that it is causing more problems due to me being constantly thinking about it. I do have friends irl, but unless its in school, I usually am not leaving the house and therefore only see them online. Not only that, its just that you can make friends who will only judge you on your personality due to anonymity. So therefore like many, my personality online is vastly different than in real life. Due to me being 14, I am unable to drive and I don’t have options to leave the house so video games are basically all i enjoy doing after I have been bored of other mediocre activities. There are other things I can do, its just they don’t last for long, such as practicing my instrument, exercising, reading, fishing (occasionally), but if not playing games on my computer, I end up just watching movies.

  13. I'm sorry I don't play online games and I play video games all the time but it is not a social event for me and I dont have online friends can I play with just don't get into the type of games that are popular online like fortnite Battle Royale type stuff. I'm a very isolated gamer

  14. Is it bad if I have a full time job, work 50 hours a week and yet still play games everyday? Or would you consider addiction where it interferes its life?

  15. I play video games if im not working or sleeping. Ive spent ALOT of money on games and this all needs to stop. Im 34 yrs old and have always loved video games. Im addicted to rocket league, fortnite, and empires and puzzles at the moment. I literally play all day long and stay up till around 2 am and average about 2-3 hrs of sleep a night. I really enjoy them and i really have a problem.

  16. I’m 20 years old and I just quit video games. I’ve been really upset over the last couple days because I realized I’ve been wasting my life. I’ve missed out on so many experiences because I decided to sit in my room playing video games. To anyone reading this sell your gaming consoles / devices and you won’t regret it. I’m happy I stopped but upset I wasted so many years playing games.

  17. I disagree.

    By describing video games under the same terminology as a drug addiction or the like, you completely neglect and support the ideas and notions that video games are bad for kids. For some, they can negatively change their priorities, and change who they are. For others, they can have fun, with all the benefits you described in the talk. I understand the response to my counter will be “it’s not referring to the kids doing it for fun, it’s for the ones with a problem.” Well, the truth is that parents cannot and will not make the distinction, and it puts the people who benefit greatly from games in a bad light. Yes, addiction exists in some cases and should be treated, but possibly creating the false idea that people who play video games are outcasts who need help is dangerous.

  18. Very nice, informative quick and fact based talk to a rather serious topic imo. Plus, his perspective gave me some new insight

  19. I want stop playing it, but video games make me excited and my mom and dad had to take away my devices, every time I would get back on the games. I’m in the middle of trying to quit every time I try I become depressed, that’s why I’m trying to work on it.

  20. Video game addiction can suggest a behavioral addiction tendency, which can lead to worse addictions, so seeking therapy for it makes sense

  21. somehow I think this is the case for some addiction-related-temporary-escapes; they always have a hidden reason behind it. Tackle those reason; make their goals easier to do.

    Not to incentivize (reward or threat) them to stop playing; not to order them, but to encourage them to follow their goals.

  22. i use 2 play games allot now i am only paly few hours 3 2 hours or few missions and i quit depends how i feel am bored i never was fan playing games full 16 hours that isnt normal at all

  23. Bro the truth Is that I want to get really into gaming, and I really want to be somehow addicted to them but every time I get to play one I just get really bored

  24. You can track progress in life by tracking your bankaccount. The only reason people are addicted to video games is because their good at it. Try playing games for a living proffesionally where you have to get results. You're probably gonna hate it if you arent good at it.

  25. I was addicted to video games since I can remember , Took me 2 years to try and get out of it .
    since i quit i lost 25kg , traveled and lived abroad in 3 countries and keep evolving as a person , I hope you all find your way , some people can manage but I know for me I had to cut off the thing i loved the most .

    You have to cut it out , otherwise its impossible , I'll always love gaming but I cannot have it in my life .

  26. What can I do if I have these amazing friends online, but I don't want to wash them away so suddenly?
    I mean, I need to quit games now

  27. Recently quit playing video games after having a panic attack for almost 3 days.
    In the past I suffered when anxiety.
    Not sure what happened but,needed to end gaming.

  28. Congrats, you've shown your docility towards the older generation by agreeing with their negative view on gaming. You've gained an outdated lifestyle in return.

  29. of course because of my recent searches youtube gives me game ads after video.
    on another note, good points and clearly stated but can't say im happy with the length and depth.

  30. I’m not really addicted to playing games. But I have a bad habit where I’ll look at all the games I have and contemplate playing them, then I never do. I’ve realized I spent way to much time and money on multiplayer online games like cod, or madden. So I’ve decided I’m only going to play story driven games. That way I don’t feel the need to be on every day but if I choose to be on every day I also won’t be mad at myself. My friends are definitely addicted. They play 8+ hours a day. I’m lucky to play 8 hours a week lol.

  31. I'm 17 and for me the good gaming memories that made my life happier (for example playing with friends) , the skill that I have achieved and the understanding that the time I wasted just for nothing makes me hesitate on quitting gaming. But I believe that I will eventually quit. I wish you all the will and courage. Sorry for bad English 😀

  32. I like that he actively used the word addicted. You can be addicted to anything and people don't understand! There's nothing wrong with playing BUT for some it is a problem and I get that. I'm glad he recognized he was addicted!

  33. even though I am not an addcit since I only play for less than 6 hours a week I still feel like quitting gaming cold turkey would add major benefits to my daily routine and quality of life. I am a full time college student, a musician and work 2 jobs and those precious and very short moments I have for myself I spend them playing videogames instead of living my life the fullest by being more social, working out, doing outdoor activities, trying to get a girlfriend etc. and I feel like if I just stop playing Videogames my life would improve if, and only if, I implement those things into my daily routine with almost a military-like discipline. The question is: should I? are videogames worth it even for 2 hours a week? would I be missing out if I never play again for the rest of my life?

  34. I'm at a point in my life, 36 years old, where I'm not like a total degen but I still play too much. Here's the fact of the matter: that time is valuable. You don't get it back. There's no such thing as "free time" and if you grew up middle class, you're not going to stay that way if you have something that takes up four hours a day and also costs attention and mental energy. You won't have enough left over to compete for the things that are really important to you.

  35. The 'you have permission' at the end was simply brilliant. I can relate of having very strict parents, and the games were a way of escaping and doing what I wanted. (I was addicted to computer games from the age of 16 to about age 27. When I finally managed to escape from the 'want' and 'desire', I've managed to focus on all the things I've neglected. )

  36. Everybody says im kind of addicted but I finished a my schools, have 2 diplomas, and have a job, rent a house etc. Seems its not that bad as they say

  37. Great Talk cam! keep crushing! I was in a similar situation, I was gaming even do I like to stop and progress in life, But no more! I'm grateful for that! Are you between 20-35 years of age and are struggling with gaming too much? when all you want to do is focus more on the business or a new adventure in life, but you always seem to fall back to gaming, are you playing only because that's what you do in your free time? but in your mind, you would like nothing more than be able to instead of playing, working on that thing you want to change build or learn, This was my own case for some time, I now seek others with the same criteria of issue, to share my own autodidact experience and knowledge I've gathered. Maybe you don't know what it is you want to do instead of gaming, but you are certain that you wish to control your gaming and start the new chapter, then I have great ways for you to take action, I would love to speak to anyone that can relate to this specific issue on a closer level, If you have any thoughts or questions don't hesitate to DM me. @restoregamingcontrolmentors Best regards Niklas

  38. I created a program in Brazil for gaming addicts to spend a couple of weeks free of technology and reconnecting with real life.

  39. I have enough strengh to quit games and there are a few exceptions: Thief, Gothic, Witcher, Silent Hill hmm.. I can't erase it but time will treat it, hopefully :((
    At least there is really serious positive effect that I seriously expanded my English vocabulary..

  40. Reading the comments I realised alot of people play over 10 hours a day wow. I love video games but i only play 2 hours a day and sometimes dont play at all. I dont think I'm addicted I just like playing games I see it like reading a book it's just my thing

  41. I keep saying to myself I’m going to quit but then I keep giving myself excuses. At night time I will be like it’s ruining my life and then the next day I will be like 1 game won’t hurt and then when I’m not playing it I’m watching it. It’s so hard because it’s the only thing that keeps me happy in life but in reality I know that it’s actually taking away my life. But as of writing this comment I hope that I mean it this time and I will escape this addiction and that in five years time I will be happy and in some sort successful without video games in my life.

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