You may be asking yourself, does my teen actually have a GAMING DISORDER or just like playing games constantly on devices? Or, ok I know he's on the Ipad or XBox a bunch but is that really so bad? At least he's at home. I mean, technology is all around. What's the harm?
A lot, actually... Too much gaming and technology exposure is like a brain on crack. Young brains need give-and-take (reciprocal) interaction with other humans, opportunities to make eye contact, give a hug, high five or pat on the shoulder for a job well done. Appropriate human physical touch is crucial for self-regulation and the development of empathy.
If gaming is primarily used as a way to interact with peers instead of face-to-face interaction, teens are in real danger of losing the ability to care about and show empathy for others. Did you know a lack of empathy is a core component of Conduct Disorder?
TETRIS: A CASE FOR VIDEO GAMES
Even so, there are some benefits to playing video games, in moderation. Playing Tetris is actually GOOD for your mental health! It blocks sugar cravings and PTSD flashbacks by 25%. It has also shown to increase grey matter in the brain and improve eye corrdination, spatial reasoning and depth perception. Created in 1984, it is one of the most widely researched video games.
I was first introduced to Tetris in my second grade home room class. I loved to play Tetris and was fascinated by manipulating the geometric shapes to fit perfectly in a line. Hours at home were devoted to perfecting my skills and finding ways to make it to the next round. I taught my dad how to play, however he told me it was no longer fun when I kept winning while playing with one hand. I learned ot play on a computer as we couldn't afford a Gameboy or Nintendo.
Like most teens, I would often become engrossed in playing video games on the computer. Yet, the final score really mattered little to me. When it was dinner time or game night, I happily stopped the game to go eat dinner or play fun games with my dad and brother. Spending time with my family always won out over playing a video game by myself. ALWAYS!!! Scrabble, Connect Four, Gin Rummy, Sorry, Monopoly, Risk, King's Corner, Twister, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Uno, playing whiffle ball in the backyard, we loved it all.
WHEN DOES GAMING BECOME A PROBLEM?
"Gaming disorder" is defined as a pattern of persistent or recurring gaming behavior (digital or online) that includes the following:
1.) impaired control over gaming
2.) making gaming a priority over other life interests and daily activities
3.) continuation/escalation of gaming despite negative consequences
4.) results in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational
areas of functioning
Here are some signs your teen may have Gaming Disorder:
1). Your teen exhibits tantrums or disrespectful behavior often when you ask your teen to turn off the game.
2). You or your teen have difficulty eating dinner/engaging with others without playing a video game.
3). Your teen continues to play video games instead of doing homework or chores, regardless of negative consequences.
4). Your teen would rather play video games than go outside, hang out with friends, become involved with school or engage in other activities.
5.) Your teen has a sense of entitlement, that he/she is owed the right to playing on devices if they do the minimum necessary to pass their classes.
3 Tips To Treating Gaming Addiction
1.) Establish Code of Conduct for Electronic Devices. This includes "tech breaks", no tech at the dinner table, a set time to turn in devices for the evening.
2.) Set a good example by limiting the amount of time you are on your phone, Ipad or computer while in front of your kids and teens.
3.) Replace time spent gaming with another enjoyable, non-tech family activity.
If you would like to learn more or schedule an appointment, please call 913-244-8786.
Until next time,
The Happiness Expert