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Could a video game addiction be the source of anxiety so fierce that it causes a headache and dizziness? In an 11-year old?

Could a video game addiction be the source of anxiety so fierce that it causes a headache and dizziness? In an 11-year old?

Is it possible that anxiety about what was (not) going to happen the next morning cause a headache and dizziness?

At 10:30 PM, my son’s friend was complaining of a headache and dizziness. That’s a little scary. Here’s a quick analysis of the day to try to figure out what was causing it.

  1. 8 AM soccer tournament: team got annihilated for the third time in the tournament weekend. Could be enough for an evening headache right there!
  2. 2 hours of mindless video game: fun with friends as they throw balls of raging energy at each other to destroy and conquer.
  3. 4 hours in the sun at a crowded beach: soccer in the sand, swimming in the rough surf. Strong sun and non-stop activity.
  4. Traffic, shopping, driving: let’s just get this day over with, please. Whew!
  5. Violin practice followed up by a pop quiz on Chinese grammar: just kidding!
  6. Another hour or so of brain-numbing sound effects and moronic battles: but they’re having fun with their friends, right? Also, it’s weekend. They’re not allowed to play during the week.
  7. Dinner, bed, confiscation of electronic devices: this might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Books, night lights and sleeping bags for the two visiting friends and lights out. I reminded the boys that they couldn’t get on any screens until 9 AM.
Just say yes. Just one more game. Just a little more. C'mon, it won't hurt.

Just say yes. Just one more game. Just a little more. C’mon, it won’t hurt.

He’s a very sweet boy and I don’t for a second think he was faking it or making it up (consciously, anyway) to get his way or con us into some plot to achieve his goals (like, well, my own son would do!).

We texted his mother and then called and his father said he was on his way. Headaches and dizziness are a little scary. You never know. You hear terribly stories about what could happen. Let’s let his own parents decide what to do.

But the next morning (now), I was trying to figure out again what happened. Here’s a theory.

“He does have bouts of anxiety.”

His mother said he got anxious about things. When I told the boys that they couldn’t get on screens until 9 AM (which was really for the guests’ information as my boys know it’s our house policy), one of the boys was confused.

  • “But what if I wake up at 6? Sometimes, I get up really early. What am I supposed to do if I can’t play video games?”
  • “Yeah, I understand, but I don’t really want the other boys to wake up. Here are a few books and I’ll attach this reading light here next to your bed. Oh, here’s another magazine, too. Hey look, it’s even about video games, cool!” This didn’t seem to comfort him. He looked sincerely worried and confused.
  • “But that’s a long time from 6 until 9,” he said as he scanned me for an answer.
  • “Why don’t you read for a while and then you can come downstairs and have breakfast if you’d like, I’ll be up.” But I could see him searching his rational mind for a solution, for an exit from this sleepover hell. “See the button on the light? It’s right here. Yep, that’s it. Great, you got it.” I looked at him and he understood the light switch just fine, it was the bigger issue of no video games first thing in the morning that he was a little caught up on. My wife and I went downstairs.

Part of my reasoning is also that I don’t want my own kids exposed to the idea that this even happens, that it’s even possible to turn on video games the moment their eyes open in the morning.

A little later, we went upstairs to check on them, turn off lights and call it a day. He was awake and sitting up. He told us of the headache and dizziness. We went over the activities of the day and all of the sun and the slight sunburn he had, the soccer game first thing and how it was now late and he was overly tired and how sleep would probably fix it all right up.

But he seemed more concerned. Enough that my wife texted him mother, then they talked on the phone and her husband came over. We’ve known them for years, our kids sleep over at each other’s houses all the time, but their son hadn’t been at our house for a while. This morning, his mother texted that her son was feeling much better.

Please note, dear parent, that I’m trying not to pick on this boy. I genuinely like him and he’s sweet and caring and thoughtful. I’m picking on his anxiety.

So could it be that because he wasn’t sure what was going to happen the next morning that he became anxious about it? That it led to the headache and the dizziness? I don’t know if the subconscious mind is cunning enough to play it out to the point where he has enough discomfort to have his father come get him so that, again, maybe subconsciously, in the morning he could play his video games. Could it be?

How about a teddy bear instead?

Let’s remove the evil video games for a moment. What if said friend didn’t have his favorite stuffed animals with him and he became anxious and … got a headache and dizziness to the point where it concerned the host parents enough to call his parents and enough to have them come get him. If this were the scenario, I’m sure we would all say, “Ah, how sweet. Poor boy loves his stuffed animals so much that he’s physically altered through the anxiety of missing them to the end that he gets to go home to them.”

With the stuffed animals, it’s a sweet story. There are feelings of love and longing and childhood. But with the video games, I have visions of drugs and addiction, night sweats and going cold turkey.

Am I taking this too far? Should I just shut up and sip my tea and go rake the yard and move on? Sure, maybe. But I’m not saying that I’m staking my parental reputation on this or that I’m going to do a PhD thesis on it, I’m just wondering if it’s possible that this is what happened.

So what do you think?


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