Posts Tagged ‘Addiction’

Should This Movie Be R Rated?

July 23, 2012

According to a new recommendation, films that feature smoking should receive an R rating. That would therefore deem the movie above, Lassie (1994), an R rated movie. It features teenagers smoking in a non-glorified way.

Whilst I agree that the film industry should be pressured to resist glorified presentations of smoking in family films, it is important that we don’t go overboard. After all, our children will see smoking frequently, if not at home, then in the street, shops, sporting events and restaurants.

Or will those activities get an R classification as well?

A recent study published in “Pediatrics” entitled “Influence of Motion Picture Rating on Adolescent Response to Movie Smoking,” explained how adolescents are affected by smoking in movies. The findings indicate those teens that watch movies featuring smoking are more likely to try cigarettes. The study goes onto demonstrate what steps can be taken by society to prevent this. But the health conscious study misses the point of raising a child.

The conclusion of the study states: “An R rating for movie smoking could substantially reduce adolescent smoking by eliminating smoking from PG-13 movies.”


Are you Addicted to the Internet?

June 21, 2012

Technology addiction is one of the most prevalent, yet socially acceptable addictions. It envelopes both children and adults and can ruin marriages, cost jobs and effect sleep.

Courtesy of Dr Oz and Dr. Kimberly Young, I have accessed a quiz to determine whether or not one is addicted to the internet:

1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
5. Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
8. Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

Other Symptoms Include:

• Failed attempts to control behavior
• Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities
• Neglecting friends and family
• Neglecting sleep to stay online
• Being dishonest with others
• Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior
• Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
• Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities


The Impact of Social Media on Kids

May 13, 2012

I agree with many of Jim Steyer’s points in regard to the need to educate children about using the personal setting on Facebook, as well as the addiction issues relating to children and social media. I am a big fan of his suggested “erase” button, which would enable children to delete any uploaded information they regretted putting on their pages.

Facebook’s big stock offering on Wall Street must be followed by an intensive debate on Main Street about social media’s powerful impact on children, an expert on the topic says.

Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco think tank focusing on media and families, said the technology that Facebook represents is having “an enormous impact” on youngsters, families and schools worldwide.

“We need to have a big national, if not global conversation about the pros and cons of that,” Steyer, a father of four who is also a civil rights lawyer and Stanford University professor, told AFP in an interview.

While social media such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter offer “extraordinary possibilities” in such areas as education, he said, “there are also real downsides in a social, emotional and cogitative development way.”

Steyer was in Washington to promote his just-published book “Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age,” which argues for greater parental involvement in their children’s online lives.

“Whether we like it or not, kids are now spending far more time with media and technology than they are with their families or in school,” – as much as eight hours a day on average in the United States alone, he wrote.

Children face the triple peril of what Steyer calls RAP – relationship issues, attention and addiction problems, and privacy issues – as well as cyberbullying, online pornography and, for girls, body image fears.

“There is an arms race for data, and to build things as fast as possible … but that’s not a great strategy when you’re talking about kids,” he said, accusing tech outfits for “not respecting the concept of privacy.”

Earlier this week, a Consumer Reports survey found nearly 13 million US Facebook users – out of 157 million, and 900 million worldwide – do not use, or are not aware of, the site’s privacy controls.

Girls are especially vulnerable, Steyer said, with studies indicating that many body-conscious teens are photoshopping images of themselves so as to look thinner and score more “likes” among their friends.

On a governmental level, Steyer suggested the United States follow Europe’s lead in privacy regulation and introduce an “eraser button” enabling users to wipe off anything they might have posted in the past.

“We need clear and simple rules (around privacy) for the tech companies, too, because right now they’ve dominated the debate and they’ve set the rules themselves,” he said.

But the immediate responsibility, he said, falls on moms and dads.

“It’s part of parenting 2.0 today, so you have to do your homework,” he said.

“You have to actually learn the rules of the road… and then you have to set clear and simple limits for kids, set clear rules of behaviour – and you have to be a role model.

“If you’re constantly addicted to your cellphone or your ‘CrackBerry’ then that’s not sending a very good message to your kids.”

Proof That Educational Programs Are Ineffective

April 11, 2012

At first glance, who would you think would be the least likely group to be calling for education against improper gambling?

CLUBS Australia is calling for responsible gambling education to be part of the national school curriculum.

The registered clubs movement, in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into problem gambling, is keen to see gambling education and awareness programs integrated into personal health and financial literacy lessons.

“Youth are at increased risk of developing a gambling problem,” Clubs Australia said.

“Research has found that education programs can be an effective tool in preventing the development of problematic gambling behaviours.”

Clubs Australia said the program should dispel common myths about gambling and educate people about how to gamble safely.

It would also highlight consequences of problem gambling and promote avenues of help and ways to intervene, it said.

But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Clubs Australia achieve two important objectives by supporting gambling education.

1. They can boast about how they are all about social gambling and very much opposed to problem gambling. This is potentially a great PR coup for them; and

2. It’s not as if they will lose anything out of it. Since when does a three lesson program on gambling behaviour have any effect in later life?

They have argued that such programs have proven effective. I dispute that claim. I don’t think they really believe it makes much of a difference either.

The bigger question is how many “good cause” programs are we going to have to put up with in the new National Curriculum? It’s all well and good to adopt educational programs, but a teacher cannot afford to spend too much time on them. Not only are they dubious in their long-term effectiveness, but they can potentially hijack the curriculum.

I personally am sick of the abundance of such programs. It takes so much teaching time away from maths, science, reading, writing and history, that it ultimately, for all its good intentions, puts teachers under greater pressure to cover important skills in a reduced amount of time.

Clubs Australia will get a lot of good press out of this story. Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be more problem gamblers as a result of the positive spin of this story that there will be responsible gamblers as a result of educational programs.

The Worrying Trend With Children and Alcohol

March 18, 2012

It really bothers me when there is a real problem facing our children and instead of tackling it head-on we get distracted by minor factors. A disturbing number of kids are turning to alcohol and instead of getting to the crux of the issue, experts are worried about alcohol advertising::

ALCOHOL is fast becoming the No. 1 threat facing Australian children and there is no adequate system in place to stop them being exposed to alcohol advertising, Australia’s foremost child health expert, Fiona Stanley, says.

The former Australian of the Year will chair a new alternative alcohol advertising review body, which health experts say is needed because the industry-based code is failing to protect children.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board will assess complaints from members of the public about alcohol advertising, and will look at areas not covered by the current code, such as sponsorship or advertisement placement.

My tip: You could ban all advertising of alcohol and it still wouldn’t have a meaningful effect on child consumption. I really respect what Fiona Stanley is doing, I just don’t think much will come of it.

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 in February 2012.

Charity Wants Us to Teach About Gambling to Our Students

December 4, 2011

There’s no limit to good causes, but at some point teachers have to put these to a side and concentrate on their main responsibility – teaching Maths, English and Science.

It’s really frustrating to be told to put the ever-packed curriculum on the backburner to teach about road safety, internet safety, sex education, fire safety and for some, gambling ed. It’s not that these causes aren’t important. On the contrary, they are very important!

It’s just that it leaves us precious little time for doing what we are evaluated to do – teach the curriculum!

Schoolchildren as young as 12 should learn about “responsible betting” to tackle problem gambling, the Government has been told.

Pupils should be taught about risk and probability, and how to gamble responsibly, in the same way they are taught about the risks of drinking alcohol and taking drugs, according to a charity that supports gambling addicts.

I’ve got a novel idea. How about we ask the parents to teach some of these skills?


Video Game Addiction is Real and Very Serious!

November 27, 2011

I am not one to use therm “addiction” lightly.  Many would dismiss video game addiction as merely a bad habit or a product of an anti-scocial personality, but it is very real.

Video game addiction can take over a child’s life and deeply affect their relationships, schoolwork and daily routine. With role-playing games such as World of Warcraft now in vogue, the video game addiction has become far more serious.  Because these games have no designated end point, the game goes on indefinitely.  This means that kids struggle to put the controller down in order to eat, sleep or even go to the toilet!

It is an addiction which at the moment is relatively hidden:

In fact, in 2007, a Harris poll found that 8.5% of youths between the ages of 8 – 18 in the United States could be classified as video game addicts.

“The excitement, the thrill and the challenge, for some people gets greater and greater, and then it takes on a life of its own.” Dr. Anna Bacher, a therapist in Sarasota, treats patients with addictions — including those who have a hard time putting down the controller. “It can go to the extreme, where they stop sleeping, they stop eating, the person becomes irritable, lethargic, depressed, highly anxious and very difficult to be around.”

It is absolutely essential that parents are aware of the consequences of an addicted child before the odd game of World of Warcraft and games of its type, become an obsession. Parents should not feel that copious hours in front of the computer amounts to innocent fun.

Yes, gaming addiction is better than drugs. But not as much as some parents may think.

Internet Addiction and our Children

October 26, 2011

We all love our internet connections and mobile phones and would find it extremely difficult to live without them.  However, addictions are still addictions, and there is no doubt that our children have grown a deep addiction to the internet.  So bad is the problem, that children have become more addicted to the internet than to TV:

Just 18% of children would miss TV most, compared to mobile (28%) and Internet (25%), finds Ofcom research

A new research by communications watchdog Ofcom has revealed that more young British teenagers can do without TV but not without mobile and the Internet.

Ofcom research found that just 18% of children aged 12 to 15 would miss TV most, compared to mobile (28%) and the Internet (25%). However, the research suggests that the teenagers are also watching more TV than ever before, with viewing figures increasing by 2 hours since 2007.

In 2010, children aged 4-15 watched an average of 17 hours and 34 minutes of TV per week, compared with 15 hours and 37 minutes in 2007. Nearly one third (31%) of children aged 5-15 who use the Internet are watching TV via an online catch-up service such as the BBC iPlayer or ITV Player, said Ofcom.

Ofcom’s research said that 95% of 12-15 year olds now have Internet access at home through a PC or laptop, up from 89% in 2010 and 77% in 2007.

Social networking is still one of the most popular uses of the Internet amongst 12-15s. Ofcom said that children are visiting social network sites more often on their mobiles. Half (50%) of 12-15s with a smartphone visit them weekly compared with 33% in 2010.

Children aged between 8-11 are more likely to use Internet for gaming, with 51% saying they play games online on a weekly basis, up from 44% in 2010. 8-11s are also spending more time playing on games players/ consoles compared with 2010 (9 hours 48 minutes – an increase of nearly 2 hours), said Ofcom.

In my school days television addiction was a problem.  Now we have another addiction which comes with the same side-effects.  It creates tired students who have been up so late they can’t concentrate.  It has compromised our children’s capacity to have healthy social interaction.  Playing with a friend has now become messaging a friend.  It’s just not the same.

As soon as people go from the moderate to the obsessive, they lose control of themselves.  Children today are certainly showing the signs of a lack of control, to the point where they are smuggling mobiles in their bags so they can reply to Facebook messages as soon as they receive them.

Kids require rules for their internet usage.  Rules that outline when, how and where they can use it.


Kids Are Addicted to the Internet

July 4, 2011

If kids are addicted to internet, Facebook and Twitter, it’s not as if their parents have no options. Reading about how fearful parents are about theeffects of their children’s addictions, I couldn’t help but wonder why they felt so powerless.

A third of all UK parents believe that their children are in danger from the internet and 80 per cent think it is possible to become addicted to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, a new study suggests. It also found that a third of parents even believe that the web can “rewire” a person’s brain.

Internet charity the Nominet Trust, who commissioned the research, say there is no evidence that social networks are harmful in themselves, and that there is no neurological evidence of the web changing brains.

Facebook and Twitter, they suggested, usually in fact reinforce existing friendships, while even playing video games has been show to improve coordination and ‘visual processing skills’.

Parents can take control over their children’s internet access.  Some recommendations include:

  • Capping time on the internet
  • No internet access in their bedrooms
  • Ensuring that they do not have a Facebook page if they are under 13.
  • Imposing strict bedtimes.

If you do not hinder access to the web and have no rules or involvement in how it is used, you have something to worry about.  This addiction is very real and requires a proactive response.

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