What to Do If Your Child is Addicted to Video Games
WhatToGetMy Instructional Article
- First you will need to identify significant behavioral changes in your child resulting from video game content. Then you will have to monitor the amount of time your child is putting into video games and determine how this is affecting their schoolwork, friendships, and overall other aspects of their life in order to determine whether or not your child is addicted to video games.
- Once you have determined how negatively video gaming is affecting your child and are sure that they need help, you will proceed to intervene by following the steps outlined in this article to help your child minimize or even quit playing video games altogether.
- However, if your child does not harbour any of the negative effects resulting from video gaming then chances are high that they just enjoy playing video games and they do not allow it to overshadow other aspects of their lives.
Below is a video game statistics from 2019 showing some facts about video gaming in the United States of America.
Video Game Statistics
VIDEO GAMES MOST POPULAR WITH TEENAGERS IN THE UNITED STATES
Fortnite is a shooter game that depends on character survival. The players are dropped in an open environment and they have to battle other players until they are the last player standing. Some variations of the game include Zombie-like creatures who the player has to shoot or else they get eaten by the Zombies if they are outnumbered.
Assassins Creed is an action-adventure game played in POV (Point of View) and has aspects of historical fiction and science fiction.The person playing is the “assassin” and they have to kill whoever they have been assigned to on a given level of the game.
CALL OF DUTY
Call of duty is a shooter game in which the player has to go to war and kill enemies in war zones. Some of these war scenes are set in futuristic worlds and outer space.
GRAND THEFT AUTO
Grand Theft Auto is an action-adventure game where players choose missions and play around cities robbing banks, hijacking cars, and racing other cars with the intention of rising up the ranks and becoming the ultimate crime lord.
Mortal Kombat is a fighting and action-adventure video game known for its graphic violence where the special move combos show you the impact of the player’s hits and blows on the human anatomy.
Almost all of the games listed above have “Blood and gore.” “Intense violence.” “Strong sexual content.” “Use of drugs.” as phrases used to describe the content and warning rating for the violent video games. In most cases, children who play violent video games are more likely to imitate what they see and control in the game.
Percentage of students involved in physical fights
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF VIDEO GAMES ON TEENAGERS
Almost 97% of teenagers in the United States play video games, 65% of the games played are aggressive and violent and this can affect your teenage child negatively by:
1. CAUSING AGGRESSION Children who play violent video games are more likely to be aggressive than children who do not play violent video games. This is because the violence in the video game desensitizes the child and they no longer fear causing others harm. Oftentimes, these children will try to “practice” what they see and control in the game on other children, making them prone to violent behavior among their peers.
2. POOR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: Children who play video games excessively will eventually start to neglect their school work as they dedicate their time to gaming, this will lead to poor performance in school. The more time a child spends gaming, the less time (s)he will have to study or prepare for any academic work.
Percentage of US teens who say they spend too much time playing video games
3. ADDICTION TO GAMING: Although not yet classified as a disorder in the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), gaming addiction (also known as pathological gaming) is a widely discussed topic that has been classified as an addiction by the World Health Organization. Teenage gaming addicts are likely to develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. They also tend to isolate themselves from family and friends and this can lead to social isolation.
WHAT IS COMPULSIVE GAMING ADDICTION?
Compulsive Gaming Addiction is characterized by a person’s inability to control their impulse to play video games. People with a gaming addiction prioritize gaming over all other aspects of their lives including their health and social life. If any of the characteristics define your child it is time you intervened and seek them help before the problem escalates. Escalation of the addiction can have long lasting negative impacts on their life and overall mental health. This means that your child will likely suffer dissociative disorder the deeper they dive into the gaming universe and might eventually develop other disorders such as:
- Eating disorders – most children either forget to eat when they have been immersed deeply into a game and this can develop into unhealthy eating habits, or they eat too much junk food which can lead to obesity and many other diseases.
- Mental disorders: such as dissociative personality disorder, anxiety, and depression all which, if left untreated, can seriously hinder the development of your child to become a productive and functioning adult member of society.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to monitor your child’s gaming activity and making sure that they do not fall into the rabbit hole of online gaming addiction because it stems into other problems that can potentially challenge your child’s growth and future. The good news is that now that you know how to identify a video game addiction, you can easily take the necessary steps into helping your child adjust back to reality and help them beat their video game addiction.
HOW TO BREAK A CHILD’S VIDEO GAME ADDICTION
If you have reason to suspect that your child might be addicted to video games, here are some things you can do to help your child overcome his addiction.
GET YOUR CHILD TO STOP PLAYING VIDEO GAMES: This is perhaps the most radical way to make your child quit playing video games. Take away all of their gaming equipment and curb any other access to video games that they may have. This includes consoles, phones, and any other devices that have access to the internet. Although effective, this method is also hard to monitor especially since we live in a digital era and most games are easily accessible through smartphones it would be hard to monitor all of your teenage child’s phone activity and you might want to invest in parental control software.
When you make your child quit cold turkey, however, you should expect them to go into gaming withdrawal because like any other addictions, gamers will find it hard to completely curb the habit in a short period.
GAMING WITHDRAWAL: WHAT TO EXPECT
The following are symptoms of gaming withdrawal, please pay close attention to your child in the period following after you cease all their gaming activities: anxiety (characterized by restlessness and fiddling with ones’ hands), low mood, sadness and despair, irritability, anger (often directed towards the parent), strong desire to get back online and play video games (trying to bypass the child protection codes, search for the game consoles that were confiscated), and defiance (such as refusing to eat, sleep, or do chores unless they are given back access to the confiscated games).
Note that these symptoms are only temporary and they will subside as time goes by, starting off strongly at first then slowly fading as time goes by. This can span between weeks or months varying from person to person. It is important to be strong and not give in to the tantrums that your child will inevitably throw during this time.
HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD COPE WITH GAMING WITHDRAWAL
Being a parent, it will only come naturally for you to want to ease the discomfort your child might be facing during withdrawal. Here are some things you can do to help your child adjust and deal with gaming withdrawals in a healthy manner:
1. Spend time with your child – preferably in an outdoorsy setting where their minds won’t wander off into daydreaming about video games. Here are a few ways on how you can utilize this time.
2. Introduce your child to other activities that they might find enjoyable that could replace video gaming. Activities can include, but are not limited to; playing soccer, reading books, writing fiction, listening to music, and dancing.
3. Set up play/hangout dates for your child so that they can see and interact with their friends and are not isolated from people their age group.
4. Monitor your child’s gaming time: In a less aggressive attempt, you might prefer to monitor the time your child puts into gaming. This includes setting up times they can play and times that they can focus on their schoolwork and socialize/interact with other people in the real world. By doing this, you will be able to prevent your child from experiencing gaming withdrawals, and also your child will be able to learn to better control their impulsive need to play video games.
5. Establish an incentive: With this method, you will treat gaming time as an incentive for your child, trading gaming time with some goal set to be achieved. For example, let your child know that they can only play video games after they have finished doing their homework and you have checked it. This way, your child will accomplish something for the day and still get to play video games.
6. Therapy: In extreme cases, you might have to take your child to see a specialist. In this case, you have tried all the above and nothing has worked and your child has gotten worse and the withdrawal is affecting their schoolwork, social life, and posing a threat to their mental health. A child therapist will guide your child professionally and help them overcome their video game addiction.
HOW TO PREVENT VIDEO GAME ADDICTION
Of course, another way of preventing video game addiction is to get ahead of it and stop it before it becomes a problem. You can do this by
1. Playing video games with your child: This way you get to control what kind of video games your child gets to play in terms of content and style. This way, your child will not be exposed to video games that are highly addictive such as online interactive games.
2. Signing up your child for extracurricular activities: Sign your child up for other activities such as music lessons, dance lessons, ballet, or sporting activities that will consume most of their time and tire them out so they do not have time to play video games. Between school, the extra activity, getting homework done, and getting enough rest, they will have no time to even think of video games.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How can you break video game addiction?
There are several ways to break video game addiction. Just like any other kind of addiction the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Once you have admitted this to yourself, you will then be able to take the next steps into breaking your addiction. The most common way that you can do this is by gradually stopping playing games, this means that you cut down the hours you spend on playing video games if you used to play for 10 hours, cut back by playing 5 hours only a day for 31 days. And after 31 days, cut 5 hours down to 2 for another 31 days and so on.
2. What can parents give to a gaming kid?
Assuming your child only plays video games moderately and they do not affect other parts of his/her life negatively, there are a variety of things that you can get them as gifts and these include but are not limited to: consoles (such as Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo), video game merchandise (such as Pokémon T-shirts, sneakers, etc.), and new gaming controllers.
3. Are all video game players addicted to video gaming?
The short and straightforward answer to this is, No. not everyone who plays video games is addicted to them or is guaranteed to be addicted to them in the future. However, it will be wise to note that most teenagers use video games as an escape from reality and this can easily escalate into addiction because they might feel more welcome or at ease with their online “friends” than they do in real life.
Discovering that your daughter or son is addicted to gaming can be very difficult to comprehend and it might lead to a lot of unpleasantness between the parent and the child. The most important thing to remember is to always treat your child with empathy, let them know that you still love them, and assure them that they will overcome their addiction. Additionally, when you make them quit cold turkey or take them to a therapist, let them know that you are doing it for their good even though it might seem like you are punishing them. Be compassionate throughout the whole process and you and your kid will make it out on the other end just fine, and that is how you can help someone with video game addiction. You can also check out teenage behaviour management strategies to help you better understand how to help and approach your teenage child throughout their withdrawal period from video gaming.
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