Although not officially recognized by the American Medical Association, to any mom that has struggled with a teen who just will not leave their video game system to do homework or eat dinner, gaming addiction is real.
While some teens can play a video game and balance school, sports activities, and friends, some get wrapped into the graphics, the fantasy, and the action.
When teens begin to neglect family, school, work, and friends, they might be addicted to gaming.
How did my teen become an addict?
Video games are designed to lure teens in for hours on end. Most teens feel a sense of power and achievement when they play games. In the real world, they have no financial independence and are caught in the awkward gap between childhood and adulthood. Gaming gives them an escape from reality. In a world where they have very little control over their environment, a video game allows them to control the car they are driving, design a character the way they want, and conquer various battles.
Video games give the sedentary child a sense of excitement. Some kids get an addictive adrenaline rush when they are facing a new challenge in a game. Most games also have various skill levels that work to lure the gamer in. With each new level reached, the gamer receives a reward and feels a sense of accomplishment. Games like massive multiplayer online role-playing games (also called MMORPGs) are especially addictive. These types of games force the player to perform tasks in order to advance, and often players must work together as teams in an online forum. Missions are scheduled, and players must attend.Some parents don’t see any harm in their children playing video games, as the risks may not be overly apparent. The more time your child spends in front of a television or computer screen means the less time he has for homework or socializing with friends. They are also more sedentary, which can lead to health problems.
Some children spend so much time playing video games that they miss out on sleep or skip meals. Children also suffer backache, eyestrain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches from excessive play. If your child chooses to play video games instead of participating in sports or physical activities, he will be an easy candidate for childhood obesity.
Gamers often feel ashamed about the amount of time that they spend playing video games. They may lie to loved ones about the amount of time that they spend gaming. They may start to feel isolated from their friends when the only subject that they care to discuss is video games. As adults, gamers may have intimacy issues with their spouse because they spend more time gaming than with loved ones.
Kicking the habit
Getting your child or teen to kick his or her gaming habit is difficult, but not impossible. As a parent, you will play an integral role in getting your child out of the house and into more productive activities. First, it is important that you show your child how his gaming has affected his life. For example, his grades have dropped, he hasn’t spent any time with his best friend, and he refuses to take part in family gatherings.
Next, you may want to make a list of attainable goals that you perceive as more productive than gaming. Some examples might be practicing the piano for twenty minutes each day or helping Mom cook dinner once per week. Give plenty of positive feedback when the goals are achieved.
You will also want to set some parameters for game playing. Some parents find it helpful to keep the computer out in the family area, as opposed to the child’s room. That way, you can monitor their usage. Either way, set your teen some time restrictions on gaming. Set an egg timer to one hour, and they can only play after all homework is completed to your satisfaction.
Lastly, get your child involved in the community. If they aren’t keen on competitive sports, have them sign up for art or photography classes. Get them out socializing with other kids their age. Eventually, you can gradually decrease the time spent gaming and replace it with more pro-social activities.
Recognize as a parent that your child or teen may be addicted to video games. This means that cutting them off of games entirely may result in rebellion. Be patient and understanding. Work with them instead of against them. Make small changes to their habits, and eventually you will be able to show your child that plenty of greatness exists beyond the fantasy world of video games.