Posts Tagged ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’

Issues Relating to Kids and Video Games

January 3, 2012

 

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
- Addiction
- 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.

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Prescribing ADHD Drugs to 4-Year Olds Seems Irresponsible

October 17, 2011

I am not a doctor, so I do not have the expertise to comment on the ADHD diagnosis becoming a regular feature of classrooms across the globe.  But I can’t help but get agitated as kids younger and younger are being given these drugs.  The cynic in me suspects that this has more to do with pharmaceutical profits and less to do with responsible medicine.

Children as young as 4 years old may now be treated with medications such as Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, under new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The recommendations, the first in a decade, expand the age range of kids who may be prescribed the drugs from preschoolers through 18-year-olds. Earlier guidelines included children ages 6 to 12. ADHD affects about 8 percent of children and youth and is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Expanding the age range will help ensure more children get the appropriate therapy, according to the guidelines. Treating preschoolers may increase their chances of succeeding in school and targeting teens recognizes that ADHD is a long-term condition that may even extend into adulthood.

“Because of greater awareness about ADHD and better ways of diagnosing and treating this disorder, more children are being helped,” said Mark Wolraich, lead author of the report and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City, in a statement.

For preschoolers with the disorder, it’s recommended that parents and teachers first try to manage children with behavior therapy that uses a system of rewards and consequences. If that doesn’t work, then doctors can prescribe medications, according to the recommendations being presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

I have three major issues with the last paragraph in particular.

1.  I don’t believe you can determine such a disorder at such a young age with such confidence as to justify prescribing a Ritalin-like drug to them.

2. The idea that some “behaviour therapy” is all that is tried before a child gets a prescription is just shocking.  There should be many steps before a child warrants a prescription.  Prescribing drugs to a child should be the last resort.  And who checks whether the behaviour therapy was properly administered?  How many teachers say they have tried everything, when you know they haven’t even come close?

3.  This leads me to my third point.  Teachers should not have such a big say in the decision to prescribe drugs to a child.  Teachers are often too easily motivated by the need to teach a civil and restrained class.  Their need to see students calm and manageable often gets in the way of a more considered approach when it comes to the question of ADHD drugs.

Four year olds on ADHD drugs!  Do we really want this to become the norm?


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