|Addiction to the internet and video games is becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly among teenagers. Gaming and use of the internet becomes a problem when it interferes with the social life, personal life and work life of the individual. Many people turn to the internet or video games as a way of coping with problems in their lives or stress and depression. This can quickly become an addiction. In particular, video games provide a fantasy escape from real-life problems. As such, video game addiction is commonly suffered by teens who are shy or socially awkward.
|Signs, Symptons and Risks of Internet and Gaming Addiction
|The first warning sign of an internet or gaming addiction is spending increasing amount of time online or playing games. Addicts might begin to fall behind at school or at work. They may become less sociable and start to neglect friends and family. They may get irritable when they’re not sat at their computer, and experience a sense of euphoria while involved in computer or internet activities. Internet and gaming addicts often feel anxiety, depression, guilt and shame as a result of their behaviour. The nature of the compulsive behaviour can lead to sleep deprivation and physical symptoms such as back and neck pains, weight loss, carpal tunnel syndrome and headaches.
|Top tips on Dealing with Gaming Addiction
- Have the computer in public room such as living room.
- Check the content of the game before you buy.
Provide games that are educational rather than violent. Just as you wouldn’t dream of allowing your children to watch an 18-certificate film, ‘18’ games for the X-Box or PlayStation will also contain inappropriate content, graphic language and violence. Suggest games like ‘Mario’ or ‘FIFA World Cup’ which don’t contain violence.
- Encourage gaming in groups, rather than as a solitary activity. This will lead to children and adolescents talking and working together.
- Come to an agreement about time limits. Gaming can be a great release from homework and other pressures but so can kicking a ball about or riding a bike. Resist using gaming as a substitute babysitter when you’re busy or for a quiet life.
- To avoid arguments on both sides, parents need to understand that online games often can’t just be ‘stopped’ in mid-flow – players may be part of a ‘team’ or need to get to a certain place in the game to ‘save’. Rather than a ‘Right, time’s up’ approach, remind them when there’s 10 minutes left so they can start thinking about when and where to stop.
- Make sure children sit at least two feet from the screen, play games in a well-lit room, never have the screen at maximum brightness, and stop when they’re feeling tired.
- To avoid your child/teenager playing at night when you’re in bed, don’t let them keep the computer in their rooms, advises The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Keep it in a family room. This also allows you to monitor the games they’re playing.
- Get involved: Talk to your child about what they’re playing and how they should behave when they are gaming. They should be encouraged not to accept ‘cheats’ or talk to people that they don’t know in the real world. If anyone asks them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable they should come straight to you.
- Make sure you continue to do things as a family, such as sitting down at the table to eat meals together or, if possible, having a weekly cinema/DVD night.
- Establish some computer house rules: No meals at the computer, homework must be done before playing etc.
- Talk to your child about why they are spending so much time online, and what they are doing. Try and find and encourage your child into an offline activity that links in with their online interests. For example children who enjoy role-play fantasy games might equally enjoy reading fantasy fiction or playing traditional fantasy board games.
- If all else fails, temporarily prohibit gaming and then allow them to play again on a part-time basis when appropriate.