Teens spend a fair part of their day in the online world. There is a vast array of Social Media sites and Apps, to explore and to be part of. This has now become the primary method of staying in contact with friends, a way for them to express and define who they are. Social media has become a platform for teens to develop new friendships and interests. But when you spend so much time online, does it eventually have an effect of you mental health. Or even perhaps on your social skills
What is Gaming Addiction?
Also known as Online Gaming Disorder, this occurs when children become addicted Gaming either on or off line. Game designers have created the games, in such a way as to encourage hours of play to advance in a game. The games are based on a reward system. The player is rewarded for the amount of time spent in the game. This excitement that a player feels after gaining a level up, or advancing to the next stage, of the game releases Dopamine in the brain. This feeling a player experiences, is similar to what is described as the kick a person addicted to substances experiences. Player over time seek to experience the feeling of attaining the reward again, and again. Reward seeking behaviour, combined with a lack of self control, can lead to addiction problems.
Games are different to those in the past, in that many games have no ending. Games also reward multi-player interaction, making the games a very social experience. Some games are designed to punish players who leave the game. The game continues while the player is off line. Some may return to the game and discover all of their hard work and hours of play destroyed. There are numerous factors in gaming, which can lead to developing attictive patterns of play. Being fimilar with the type of game and the game objectives, can help parents decide if the game is suitable for a child. Ireland now has centres offering treatemnts for Gaming Addiction
Advice for Parents
- One of the first steps to take, is to establish is there a problem, is the child socially withdrawn, spending countless hours playing games, neglecting themselves and responsibilities. Do they react aggressively if there is an attempt made to break or interfere with the gaming cycle. If so then there may be an addiction problem
- Encourage children to reduce the time playing the game. Suggest they engage in some other interest preferably a physical activity
- Parents should be supportive and encourage efforts of a child who wishes to withdraw from games if this has become an issue
- You can restrict access to devices, or set a period of time before the device can be used again
- Set time limits for how long children are permitted to play the games
- Remember that the gaming console is not a child minder. While games can encourage the development of some skill sets as with any thing in life moderation is key. Over use or exposure will have a negative impact on the child
- Stay involved when their child is gaming. Ensure it is not the primary source of entertainment. Try limit game play to no more than 2 hours a day
- Access to these devices for children is a privilege, Not a Right
- The most important message we can give you is that it is OK for a parent to say ‘NO’