A Parent’s Guide to Video Game Addiction in Children

In the age of the smartphone revolution, more and more people are taking up gaming, especially children of all age groups. In fact, they can be some of the most impressionable ones and easy targets for game developers. Parents should know is that many of the games are designed to be addictive. They are designed to hook children, this is how they make money. So, children are being targeted by these game designers.

Parents should look for warning signs to know whether their child has gaming addiction or not. Potential warning signs are-

  • Prioritises gaming over other activities and letting it take precedence over their interests and daily activities
  • Increasing use of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
  • Becomes irritable if not allowed access to the internet
  • Spends time online in place of homework or chores
  • Loses track of time while playing
  • Sacrifices needed hours of sleep to spend time online
  • Loses interest in activities that were enjoyable before he or she had online access
  • Becomes irritable, moody or depressed when not online
  • Prefers to spend time online rather than with friends or family

If parents notice these potential warning signs, they should realise the harms these games can cause. There are some severe problems which can arise due to this addiction both physically and psychologically, especially due to violent games like PUBG. Here are some of the harmful effects of games like PUBG-

       1.Health Issues

There are many health problems which can arise due to long hours of playing online games. It can increase the chances of obesity, weaken the muscles and joints, cause incorrect posture, weaken eyesight and even cause headaches.

  1. Behavioural Problems

Violent games like PUBG can trigger aggressive thoughts, emotions and behaviour affecting the mental well-being of the players. They are extremely harmful for the young, impressionable minds of little children as their long-term behaviour gets affected.

  1. Social Life gets Affected

People spend long hours playing PUBG which means they end up becoming less socially active, go out less and prefer to spend time in the virtual world instead of interacting with others in the real world.

  1. It disrupts your sleep pattern

Spending long hours in front of the screen disrupts the sleep pattern. Sometimes, people sleep less just to play the game.

  1. Exposure to Wrong Values

Violent games are not for children as it contains excessive violence, profanity, racism, and many other aspects that kids should not be exposed to. They sometimes don’t understand the difference between the real and virtual world and try to emulate the same behaviour as portrayed in the games.

  1. Hampers Academic Performance

Playing video games has an adverse effect on children’s academics as well. They may skip homework or studying for exams and choose to play video games.

In order to break the gaming habit in their children, parents need to make some relentless efforts to regulate the amount of time their children spend playing games online. Here are some effective steps which parents can follow:

       7.Monitor your child’s gaming behaviour

Remove games, computers, consoles and phones from your child’s bedroom as it is impossible to monitor children’s gaming behaviour and usage if the devices are in their bedroom. Instead, keep them in the living/common room. Discuss with your child before setting up rules regarding the same. Explain to your child that gaming is just a mode of entertainment or a past time, and it is not what his/her life is about. But once the rules are in place, you must ensure that you all stick to them. The rules should apply to the whole family. Parents have to be positive role models for children.

     8.Show them your Love!

Parents should not blame or criticize their children. Many a time, questions by parents are often interpreted as blame and criticism by children. Parents should reassure children that they are not being condemned. All the issues regarding their gaming behaviour should be addressed affectionately and in a calm and composed manner. Tell your child what changes you have noticed in his/her behaviour like declining grades, social withdrawal, giving up hobbies, etc. and why increased screen time is becoming your concern.

Set specific screen time and encourage children to be self-responsible. If they honour the rules then you can use the free time to engage them in varied interesting activities. If left unengaged, they can go back to their gaming addiction.

   09.Look at the behaviour pattern of the whole family

It is important to understand your own family system and how it contributed to the current issue.  Sometimes parents use online games as a parenting tool. They feel that children are sitting at one place, not disturbing them so they can continue with their household chores or other tasks an that’s what stems up this addiction. So, it’s important that parents first realise what they are doing wrong and then think about the solutions.

   10.Be Tech-Savvy

Technology has its own pros and cons, it just depends on how one uses it. Checking history folders and internet logs, learning about parental monitoring software, and installing filters all require a degree of computer savviness. It is important for every parent to be comfortable with the computer, at least enough to know what their child is doing online. There are many parent control apps which can be installed on mobile phones, computers or smart TVs to restrict children’s screen time. Keep browsing the ‘Web History’ as well.

      11. Be friendly & spend more time with kids

Parents should provide a listening ear to their child. They should be approachable and friendly. If your child is feeling bored, spend time with him/her instead of letting him/her sit in front of the screen. It will also strengthen the parent-child relationship.

       12. Encourage Outdoor Activity

If your child is getting lost in the virtual world of online games to the point of neglecting even the most essential daily tasks, encourage him/her to go out. Plan family outings. Take them outdoors.

     13.Digital Detox

Plan a day every week as Digital Detox Day. This applies to both parents and children. Remove access to any type of digital device—no smartphones, no computers. Parents can regard this opportunity as a way to reduce stress or focus on studies and social interaction in the physical world. They can plan a variety of other entertaining activities such as cycling, playing cricket, etc.

     14.Seek Professional Help

If the problem is severe, and parents are not able to control their child’s gaming addiction, they should not delay seeking help. They can talk to their child’s teacher or the school counsellor and share their concerns with them. Together as a team the parents and the school can work together to solve this critical issue.

Gaming Addiction is a very serious issue and we should try to clip this habit in the bud before it becomes something bigger and gets out of hand.

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