Video games have come a long way, from being simple 8-bit arcade games to the elaborate, cinematic experiences they are today. They introduce us to a world of amazement, adventure and fantasy, turning us into heroes on make-believe journeys. They teach us to think strategically, solve complex puzzles, communicate well with peers, and pick up leadership skills. Games even teach us about cultures and civilizations. Games hold a special place in the lives of children. We must let the younger generations enjoy the specialties of its time like the ones before did. Maybe you love gaming too. As a parent, it is a great way to bond with your family.
To game or not to game
Gaming, like other great things, can be bad for us when consumed in excess. Gaming addiction, although very extreme cases are rare, seems to be on the rise. A debate is currently raging on over banning PUBG in India, due to displays of extreme behavior like suicide and threats of suicide by children and teens addicted to the game. We should ask ourselves if a ban is the solution to the problem, or a mere distraction from a deeper issue.
Signs of gaming addiction
Signs of gaming addiction, like other forms of addictions, may not be evident initially. Being vigilant is key to finding a way out. Check if your child is:
- 1.Withdrawn and aloof
- 2. Filling up every bit of available time with games
- 3. Barely participating in outdoor sports and activities
- 4. Neglecting school work
- 5. Showing a lack of similar enthusiasm for other activities, including ones they used to enjoy
- 6. Responding with rage or defensiveness when confronted with the subject
- 7. Avoiding real world peer interaction.
- 8. Neglecting their personal hygiene
Handling the addiction in a positive way
It is easy to fall into a cycle of self-blame or blame your child for gaming addiction. Devices have become very accessible to all of us. Video games too, are now designed specifically to target our need for achievement, belonging, competition and completion, by targeting the brain’s reward system. Gamification is, in fact, a field that grew out of the study of game mechanics. It is now being applied very successfully to business, and e-learning platforms.
Concern for your child’s physical and mental health is paramount. When a child’s self-worth becomes tied to in-game performance, things take a turn for the worse. A gaming addiction can affect normal development. It can cause poor eating and sleeping habits, and lead to a lack of exercise. It can leave a deep psychological impact and might encourage violent behavior.
It can be scary to step in and intervene, if you believe that your child might be addicted. Here are some measures you can take:
- Setting an example starts with examining our own behaviors. Can we set aside our own obsession to candy crush and try a healthier activity?
- Listen to your child’s view on why they want to play their favorite game(s). What exactly are they trying to feel or escape? Do they feel that they are getting the attention and support that they need from family and friends? Help them understand the long term consequences of their pastime, such as poor academic performance, lack of social skills, isolation, anxiety and other ill-effects. Show them that there is much more to life than video games.
- Create a reward system for games. Did they help you around the house? Did they do something thoughtful for another person? If the assignments get done, or study topics get covered within time, let them experience their favorite game.
- Game time should be limited to certain days and specific times of the day.
- Consequences of exceeding fixed gaming time could be loss of gaming privileges for a full day.
- Planned outdoor activities like hiking, (real world) football, and old-fashioned picnics, are great alternatives to staying glued to a tablet or phone.
Technology is a great tool that can be leveraged to our benefit. TRIO - an International School in Bangalore,incorporates the use of technology into our international school curriculum, in a smart and purposeful manner. Our iPad programme creates engaging learning experiences for our students, through audio, visual and tactile interactions, with rich educational content. It provides access to online assessments and delivers quick feedback. It also reduces the size of their school bags. We teach responsible and controlled usage of technology from a young age. To know more about our programmes, visit us at Best International School in Bangalore