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Gaming addiction in children and how to deal with it

Gaming addiction, especially among children, has become a global malady, turned more ominous after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Children are increasingly exposed to gadgets during the pandemic not only for online classes but they cling on to them most of the time through the day. Children feel themselves as a part of the game, which is quite appealing to them.

They become deeply engrossed in the characters in the video game and imagine themselves as one of the characters. This type of over-indulgence can compound the risk for video game addiction, making them reclusive with sedentary habits.

Due to a gaming addiction kids tend to neglect their homework, activities at school and household chores. It can also hinder their social skill development, personality development and make them recluses.

Addiction is basically any compulsive behavior. Video game addiction in children can achieve a threshold meeting the clinical criteria for addiction.

Playing video game provides a sense of euphoria and relieves them from any distress or unpleasant feeling.  Kids often experience “withdrawal” when they are prohibited to play video games. However, gaming interferes with everyday life, including social relationships and academics.

Clinically, gaming addiction is about more than just spending time in playing games, but is also about gaining control over your child’s life. According to a study, nearly 8.5% of children and young adults show similar symptoms as that of substance abuse and alcohol addiction.

Children and teen with certain characteristics traits are at greater risk of gaming addiction such as:

  • Poor social skill
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lonely and bored
  • Mood disorder
  • Learning disabilities

Online gaming helps children and teens with poor communication skill, social skill and low self esteem to feel safe and happy. They avoid interacting in the real world. These games are programmed with multiple levels and give the player special ability and power after completion of each level. The visual effects make that child feel they are given additional powers in that virtual world, and start liking the virtual world more than the real world.

Negative Effects of Online Gaming

Children and teens fail to distinguish action or consequences of video games in the real world. In real life the fictional characters of the video games don’t have any relevance. Therefore, in the real world, social skills of children and teens become impaired, leading to depression and anxiety. Online games include and glorify antisocial behavior such as robbery, killing and crime to succeed in the levels. This impacts young minds in a very negative way. They develop a tendency to emulate the characters depicted in the online games in their real lives. Children tend to become aggressive and also aloof as a result of too much of online gaming. Children spending more time in the virtual world also feel disconnected from family members. They identify themselves with strangers—the online characters, which can prove to be dangerous.

How to recognize signs of addiction in your children?

Always look for the following signs to ascertain whether your child is addicted to online games. It is time to step up if you notice some of the following:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Absenteeism from school and decline in academic performance
  • Prone to accidents
  • Failed attempts to minimize gaming time
  • Increase in use of stimulants
  • Increase in aggression, tantrums and temper
  • Increase in violent behavior
  • Choosing to play games instead of spending time with family and friends
  • Losing sense of time
  • Neglecting chores, hobbies, personal hygiene and homework
  • Excessive talking about gaming and persuading others to play
  • Rationalizing online gaming
  • Isolation from friends
  • Becomes violent when steps are taken to stop gaming addiction 
What you can do as parents?

As parents you should be cautious while purchasing video games and set the limits for its usage. The following precautions should be taken before or after purchasing video games.

  • Make a brief discussion with your family, regarding the video game purchase, internet usage and electronic entertainment
  • Set up limit for gaming timing
  • Check for appropriate content of the game
  • Check rating and advisory of the game
  • Set up limit for usage of the game, like allowing it only for 3 days in a week
  • Set aside rules such as punishment and consequences for exceeding time limit
  • Never allow internet in bedroom
  • Check out monthly subscription of the game, so that you can unsubscribe when ever required
  • Install firewalls and purchase software that sets limits on computer gaming
  • Remind your child that online game characters are strangers
  • Keep a tab on your child’s online activities

If your child has already become addicted, consult professionals before stopping them from playing the game.

How we can help?

It’s imperative to maintain a supportive relationship trust with your child even while enforcing rules in context to gaming.

Children and teens already exhibiting antisocial behavior such as angry outbursts, delinquency, substance abuse, theft and truancy should be restricted from gaming. If you notice any unusual behavior in your child as a result of excessive game time then you should see a therapist.

We, at Athena behavioral health, are known for our customized treatment programs and compassionate care provided by our seasoned experts. We are among the best mental health treatment centres in India. Our services include mental health treatment programs, substance abuse treatment and co-occurring disorders. To know more about our treatment plans contact us today at our toll free number 9289086193.