Excessive video game use and high rates of video game addiction lead to much anguish from concerned parents. Many parents never saw the addictive pull of video games as an issue when they bought consoles for their kids or allowed them to have a computer in their bedrooms. I read a very interesting piece by writer, Scott Steinberg, on the major issues relating to children and video games.
He examines some of the most common concerns parents have about video games:
- Amount of Play Time
- Age Appropriateness
- Health and Obesity
- Safety Concerns
- Violence, Aggression and Misbehavior
The issue of particular interest to me was the video game addiction section. Video game addiction is not a term we hear very often, but I’m afraid it will be widely familiar in the next few years.
- Addiction– For some kids, there is a real danger of becoming too involved in playing games, or even in living too much of their lives in the virtual world of the Internet. In rare cases, true symptoms of addiction can develop, and such kids can require direct help from their parents, peers, and professionals to have a healthy, balanced life. While a change of environment and routine can sometimes be enough to break kids out of an addictive mindset, the reality is that it’s hard to prohibit kids from using technology on a regular basis, since it’s such an integral part of daily life. Many experts encourage parents to become more engaged in the addictive activity in an effort to better understand the problem and prospective solutions. They also encourage families to seek out professional help should children exhibit warning signs of addiction. Several of these warning signs, according to the Search Institute, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to creating healthy communities, and other sources, include:
- Playing for increasing amounts of time
- Lying to family and friends about video game usage
- Thinking about gaming during other activities
- Using video games to escape from real-life problems or bad feelings, as well as anxiety or depression
- Becoming restless or irritable when attempting to stop playing video games
- Skipping homework in order to play video games
- Doing poorly on a school assignment or test because of time spent playing video games
I urge parents to spot the signs before the addiction gets completely out of hand. It may even be worth reading Mr. Steinberg’s book, “The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games,” which will be free to download at www.ParentsGuideBooks.com in February 2012.