Written by: Sophie Goodarzi, Library and Communications Coordinator
For many children and teenagers, online gaming is an enjoyable hobby that is played from time to time. However, it can be hard to tell when online gaming shifts from a simple pastime to an addiction that requires concern.
For a lot of online gamers, games can be used as a coping mechanism to escape from the real world. Players can create and name their own characters and essentially develop an online persona. But, this is not a healthy way of viewing online games. They should be for enjoyment and not a way to escape from problems faced in the real world. Moreover, games are not as friendly as they seem to be. Your child may run into hackers or predators when spending time on online games.
Behavioural signs of addiction:
Online gaming becomes an addiction once it impedes daily life. If your gamer child displays any of the following behaviour, it may be a cause for concern.
- Mood swings and anger fits
- Lying about time spent playing
- Prioritizing online games over other important activities
- Wanting to spend more and more time on an online game
- Worsening performance in school
- Losing interest in other hobbies
Physical signs of addiction:
The symptoms below can occur when one spends too much time gaming. Many of these symptoms are signs of neglecting one’s body which comes as a result of focusing too much on games. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, you may want to consider stepping in.
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, backaches, or neckaches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Problems with sleep
Eyes are heavily affected when playing games. To lessen eyestrain or help your child’s sleep problems, installing a software that adjusts a screen’s colour temperature on your child’s device will help. An example of this software is Flux (link: https://justgetflux.com/).
Things to look out for in online games:
Many video games, such as MMORPGs, are social. Gamers can make friends while socializing, however your child should not neglect their friends outside of games as well. Also, your gamer child should refrain from sharing personal information online. This information includes their name, age, location, and more. You and your child must watch out for hackers or predators on online games. These people disguise themselves as a friend when they truly have ulterior motives, intending to harm innocent gamers. Teach your child internet safety and monitor their online activity to prevent these problems from occurring and to help deal with them.
How can you help?
As a parent, supporting your child through this addiction should be something you should always keep in mind. As well as being patient and understanding, below are some ways to help manage your child’s gaming addiction.
- Talk with your child about why they game, this can help you find the root of the problem
- Create a routine for your child that they will enjoy
- Enforce limits with electronics
- Do activities with your child
- If none of the above work, you may want to consider therapy