CHAPTER 25 - GAMING. Oh, GAMING.
An excerpt from my ebook for parents
Why is gaming addictive?
Gaming is addictive because the gaming companies have created GAMES to be that way. The games want you to stay in and level up, buy some figures or tools that can kill something and feel a type of euphoria. The gaming companies make more money keeping you hooked and buying another edition of the game. They want to challenge you to keep beating your scores and winning. Winning is what makes gamers addicted and throughout this process, rich.
There are two different types of gaming addictions. The first being, a single game addiction. So, a game where you are playing yourself and beating your own goal. The second is multiplayer, where you are playing against several different people, trying to beat all of them for the top spot. These types of games are highly addictive and cause people to lose jobs, careers, and drop out of school. The gamers feel they are in an alternate reality to escape real life.
... and cause people to lose jobs, careers, and drop out of school. The gamers feel they are in an alternate reality to escape real life.
There are short term and long term signs of gaming addictions.
I have recently been talking to several parents, teachers, coaches, and medical professionals about this issue. We do not have any Fortnite or Call of Duty in our house - just an old Xbox and need more insight. I have inquired about the types of games being played, the level of violence in games, the amount of hours kids can play, how does gaming affect their respective sports and school work. After speaking to all of these wonderful people, I was honestly shocked; I am still shaking my head learning about the gaming world and shocked that many parents set themselves up for failure for the nightmare that goes along with exposure to the gaming world.
STATS and IDEAS
- Children are spending long hours playing into the night. They drink caffeinated drinks to stay awake and be alert and once the rush is over, they crash. They grab sugar, easy snacks and stay in a room without anyone.
- Play with your children outside and inside, enjoy them. Here are some ideas for an outside village to keep kids playing. See Chapters 1-3 of ebook.
- Ask your teens to start a routine if they wish to play. If they wish the privilege to play, they must prove their maturity to you by following the rules of your house. See Chapters 1-3 for setting up routines and rules in ebook.
- Children can’t game, for 8 hours a day.
- The older the child, the longer they stay awake, but is this healthy? Not at all for teens, it sets them up for misery. For example, some teens are staying awake until 3 am. Parents need to step in to ensure good sleep hygiene habits are being followed. Sleep determines brain function. Some children are faking being sick and staying home just to play all day. This was more common than I thought. I interviewed high school teachers and many had been told kids are staying up playing Grand Theft Auto. If parents put controls on gaming centers, they would be able to monitor their child’s gaming times. 1 hour is allowed from the Canadian Paediatric Society.
What are the emotional and physical signs and symptoms of an addicted gamer?
Here are some of the Emotional signs and symptoms of video game addiction include:
- Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play.
- Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
- Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing
- Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming
- Migraines due to intense concentration or eye strain, headaches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse
- Poor personal hygiene
Here are statistics on Gaming and symptoms of addiction.
STATS FOR TEENS
- 66% of tweens aged 8 to 12 play video games for an average of 2 hours per day.
- 56% of teens ages 13 to 17 play video games for an average of 2.5 hours per day.
- Boys typically play video games more often than girls.
- Over 80% of both tweens and teens have a gaming console.
- Young children aged 2 to 4 play for 21 minutes per day, and those aged 5 to 8 play for 42 minutes per day.
- 64% of the U.S. population are gamers
- The average male gamer is 33 years old
- The average female gamer is 37 years old
- Males between the ages of 18–24 are most at risk for gaming addiction
- 94% of males and 6% of females represent the gender breakdown for gaming addiction
- 69% Caucasian, 13% Asian and 18% of other ethnicities is the ethnicity breakdown for gaming addiction
What some teachers have to say about Gaming
- When I interviewed teachers (high school and elementary), they said that children talk about staying up till 3am and gaming. Teachers worry about why parents are letting this happen. “What are parents doing?” teachers asked. Teachers shared that many students show up to school and can barely keep their eyes open at school. The students volunteered that it was because they stayed up late gaming or on a phone. Locking gaming consoles down by 9pm is healthier for them to sleep earlier. Bedtime is determined by bus pickup and practices.
- Teachers added that their students say they can play any games as late as they want. Teachers know not to believe everything they hear but when it is mentioned to a parent in a parent/teacher interview, parents say, yes, we don’t know what to do. There is a clear answer here, you are the parent and must control the gaming. When I asked parents during our sessions they seemed frustrated and out of their depth. Parents say they want to give their children something that the other kids have and let them play and just keep letting them play when they are the parent. Technology is happening so quickly some don’t know what it is, they are just buying it. One of the reasons we have a parenting crisis is partially related to materialism. They want to make their children happy and can’t say no. For centuries, we have become more accustomed to more material items and now parents want everything for their children without thinking of the consequences. To be fair, we didn’t know that all this technology was going to have these detrimental consequences that they do. Here we are now with a parenting crisis and child mental health crisis. I am pleased you are reading this, as it says you care and are a conscientious parent. I myself let some things slide until I realized I am the parent and needed to stop the phone use.
- Parents and Coaches that were interviewed mentioned children seem to be more interested in staying home and watching, “Youtube or gaming.” Children seem to be more like Zombies and don’t want to join any clubs, activities or sports as much as they did 5 years ago. This was a common observation here among coaches. Parents sign your kids up for everything that is free or use public programs that are cheaper, but the more active a child is the happier and more socialized they are going to be. Clubs, Drama, Music, Art, Sports, whatever one, just sign them up. It will start their social skills and self control to develop. Learning to navigate social challenges and allowing them to learn how to act in different situations is more vital for their growth as a whole. A child’s success is now directly linke to how much screen time they have.
SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES TO TRY
Parents have attempted many strategies to balance gaming. Here are a few ideas that many parents have tried and had success with. Give these strategies a whirl and see which ones your family needs. Keep in mind, sleep affects their mood, diet and exercise. Please see ebook Chapters on Routine setting and why sleep should be a child’s most important routine.
- One, take away the whole gaming console, several parents are keeping them at a grandparents or in a secret spot.
- Store games at a grandparents house until their grades go up or the unwanted behaviour starts to decrease. This works well at first, but is only an extrinsic motivator to them to retrieve their gaming console back. However, this will help them return to a screen routine, help their sleep hygiene return to normal, their anxiety and hormonal changes from cortisol and dopamine will decrease.
- Many parents found children just went on another device, an Ipad, or their phone. There is so much technology around, it becomes evident the child is using it to escape something. It is easier for children to just use a device so no one talks to them or argues with them or bothers them. Parents like being on their phones for the same psychological reasons. If children are motivated intrinsically, they can better balance their time on devices themselves. They will learn to self regulate if they are motivated internally not by an extrinsic reward, like bribing with ice cream.
- Choose a method that best motivates your child intrinsically, they will be more self-motivated and happier. Being intrinsically motivated is harder work but changes to a behavior that will last long term. This is a type of motivator to work towards.
Intrinsic Motivators: These are motivating goals that come from within. For example, if a child paints a picture and doesn’t want to sell it, but gives it to someone or, just to demonstrate their own skills this is intrinsically motivated. It lasts longer and develops a healthier psychology for the child. Self-competition with themselves proves they can do something to themselves. They can paint well, really well, they want to be the best.
Extrinsic Motivators: If you make your bed, I will give you money. This is effective for a while and for certain situations but ultimately fails. Telling a child to take pride in your room and demonstrate your organizational skills will help more effectively and last longer.
- Some parents have children that won’t come out of their rooms or basements to socialize with other siblings or family. Other than trying to turn off the gaming center or wifi, their children won’t come out and talk with them. Parents have let this happen over time knowingly or accidentally. I will reiterate the Canadian Paediatric guidelines here, 1 hour a day of screen time. Gaming is addictive and must be regulated. Currently, research is leaning towards Screen time determining emotional, academic, physical, and social development. Parents must regulate children’s routines and lower screen time dramatically.
- Other parents took away the games from the consoles until their grades went back up or behavior improved. There is a link between the increase in gaming hours and decline in grades, depression etc. It seems to be linked to depression and the feeling of isolation or anxiety-like feelings. See above link.
- I suggested to parents to set an egg timer. Starting from a young age. When the egg timer goes off, we can play a game of cards or go to the park or fish. Whatever they want to do outside or in a different capacity, like paint, draw, etc. This strategy yielded better results as it helped children in younger ages 6-12. Older children would set the timer ahead or deceive their parents to keep playing. They need to learn how to self regulate but children can’t that easily, their frontal lobes just won’t let them. Children who were expected to keep their grades up and play on a sports team seem to manage less time on a gaming device or phone. They also seem to be happier to socialize and hang out with friends.
- Which method of gaming routines works more 100% effectively? Not owning one is 100% going to ensure they are not gaming. But what does that teach them? Teach intrinsic self-talk motivators from an early age and try to develop those. A well-rounded child is usually a happier child. Start the self talk method building in intrinsic motivators from a young age. For example, “We need to stay active for our health” for a younger child. They just can’t comprehend the context of this statement, so you must place controls and rules for them until they are old enough to follow your gaming rules boundaries.