know how your child is addicted to gaming
Today’s video games have become so high-tech that it’s hard not to be amazed. Not only do they have hyper-realistic graphics, they are now designed more intelligently. Equipped with a multitude of functionalities, players can run, shoot, jump, dance and create within a game.
What’s so bad about that? Aren’t video games educational?
It’s true that video games can have positive effects on children. Studies have shown that because of its interactivity, children develop useful reasoning and memory skills. They can also help develop creativity, critical thinking, as well as leadership and team work. However, studies are also in agreement that too much video gaming can lead to negative effects, far outweighing the positive ones. Too much gaming, or gaming addiction (which is now declared a mental disorder) has been found to lead to anxiety and depression. Furthermore, some games can harm the brain, damage long term concentration, and contribute to obesity and muscular and skeletal disorders when played too often.
It doesn’t help that most video games are designed to encourage continuous playing. They are designed for non-stop involvement – players aim to reach higher and higher levels to increase excitement or the feeling of accomplishment as each one gets more difficult than the last. They are also convinced to spend money to unlock each level (or to add more accessories to help them win). They get so hooked on the thrill and excitement that they get addicted to the game.
How much is too much?
A study found that playing video games more than five hours a day is considered dangerous and could be a sign that players are addicted (Kansas State University study). Another study says that spending three hours or more can take a toll on a child’s mood (Scientist discovers the ideal amount of time kids should spend playing video games) and would make them likely to have problems with hyperactivity, attention and relating to their peers. But there are always disclaimers to these studies. Results can depend on the child’s age (younger ones may not have as much tolerance or self-control), temperament as well as the type of games that they play.
Doctors advice that it’s all about balance. If your children already spend a bulk of their time at school and doing extracurricular activities, allowing them some down time to play an hour or so seems reasonable.
How do you know that your child is addicted to gaming?
- is always talking about the game
- gets bored, fidgety and irritable when not playing
- can play hours on end
- gets defensive when told about their excessive gaming
- gets angry or explosive when told to stop
- sacrifices basic needs like sleep, hunger or personal hygiene
- complains about chronic back, hand or wrist pain
- foregoes or forgets basic responsibilities like homework or chores
- seems distant or preoccupied when not gaming. May also have poor communication and social skills, and is not making eye contact.