When you look at the kinds of trouble teens can get themselves into, gaming may not seem like a bad idea. Your children are safe and sound at home and they are quiet and occupied in their rooms. But don’t be fooled: too much gaming can affect almost every aspect of your child’s life from academic performance to social development and health.
Consequences of gaming addictions
The sedentary lifestyle encouraged by gaming can lead to childhood obesity and all its related problems. From the BBC: “Up to 90% of school leavers in major Asian cities are suffering from myopia – short-sightedness – a study suggests.
Researchers say the “extraordinary rise” in the problem is being caused by students working very hard in school and missing out on outdoor light.”
Coordination and muscle development can be stilted in students who choose to game rather than play sports or get active.
Disrupted sleep patterns mean your child is more susceptible to illnesses and has trouble paying attention.
Social development is negatively affected when online interaction is the only way your student socializes.
Is your child addicted?
Just because your child plays a lot of games doesn’t necessarily mean that she is addicted to gaming. The Center of Online Addiction outlines several warning signs to look out for:
- Playing for hours every day
- Thinking and talking about gaming even when engaging in other activities
- Lying to conceal the amount of time they spend playing games
- Feeling irritable or angry when they are not able to play games
- Playing online games to avoid dealing with real life, with problems, anxiety or depression
What to do about gaming addictions
The first step is to ascertain whether your child is just fond of gaming or whether they have an addiction. Most kids love to play games and will do so whenever they get the opportunity. It’s ok if they play games from time to time, but gaming should not take over their regular activities, hobbies and sports or socializing.
If you suspect that your student is addicted, start keeping records of how much time they spend gaming, the issues they are avoiding by gaming and the problems their habit causes.
If you are not able to curb your student’s gaming by setting limits or encouraging a wider range of activities, it may be time to seek professional help. Treating gaming addiction is similar to treating any other kind of addiction; it takes time, patience and perseverance.
The trouble with gaming is that it’s impossible to avoid using computers. Gamers who are addicted must learn to use computers without being tempted to play games. A professional can help your student to deal with any social or emotional issues which encouraged them to seek shelter in a game in the first place.
You also need to replace the excitement, interaction and social world that the gamer experiences online with similar ‘real life’ experiences that are positive. Perhaps the thrill of online gaming can be substituted with sports, or hobbies that are new and exciting. Replacing the gaming time with other rewarding activities will help your student to move back into the real world.