Whether it’s through consoles, PCs, smartphones or, of course, the internet, video games consume our everyday lives. Games are particularly appealing to teenagers, offering a chance to escape reality and, for a short time, forget about the stresses and strains of adolescence. However, impressionable teenagers are mostly likely to succumb to addiction. I have a fourteen year old who had gone through this phase so, trust me, overcoming video addiction does take a lot of time and patience.
Addiction is an illness
A video gaming addiction, just as any other kind of addiction, is an illness and should therefore be treated as such. Studies have shown that playing games produces endorphins in the brain that result in highs similar to those experienced by drug and gambling addicts. If you are the parent of a teenager that you suspect to be suffering from a video game addiction, it is essential that you approach the matter with care. Attempting to tackle the problem by removing games from the equation immediately could lead to the problem worsening and a child becoming aggressive. Instead, you should recognize the symptoms and educate yourself before putting an effective treatment plan in place.
If your child is suffering from any of the following symptoms, then a video game addiction is likely:
- Spending vast amounts of time playing games. Is gaming taking up every minute of spare time?
- Falling behind in school and suffering from a drop in grades.
- No longer spending time with family – eating meals in their bedroom, etc.
- Depressed, angry, or aggressive when unable to play video games.
- Going to excessive lengths to play video games, such as getting up in the middle of the night.
Do your research
The more you know about the video games your child is playing, the more you will understand about why they are playing them. Research what games are suitable for teenagers to play and put yourself in charge of buying the games for your child.
In treating a video game addiction, sensitivity is essential. Rather than having a teen go cold turkey, you should attempt a weaning process. Put a reward system in place that involves doing household chores or homework for gaming minutes. For example, tidying a bedroom could be worth 30 minutes of gaming time.
Make sure that your child has plenty of breaks in between gaming sessions, where they are active. Always encourage physical activity.
Remove a console or PC from the bedroom and into a family room – this will help prevent a child from becoming separated while allowing you to check on gaming habits. Finally, make sure you educate your children on gaming and highlight the risks of over playing.
If you’ve been through similar experience and have found alternative methods of curbing video addiction in your teen, please feel free to share.