Parents Need to Be On The Lookout For a New Drug That’s Taking Kids By Storm: Video Games

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Kids these days may have an easier life than their parents or grandparents had. They may take certain luxuries and privileges for granted like computers, cellphones and for the purposes of this article, video games. For most kids video games are part of the fabric of every day life and offer a few blissful hours a day of escape and fun. Even parents have caught on to the sometimes therapeutic nature of spending an hour or two a day playing on a Playstation or Xbox. Some parents even join in and play with their kids to show them that they aren’t ignorant to the fun that some video games provide, these same parents also realize that there is a time and place for video games and don’t let the lives of their kids be completely taken over by a TV set and what’s connected to it. The issue here is that parents need to understand the symptoms, if you want to call them that, of a kid who has become far too immersed with the video or computer game of their choice. The usual culprits are known as “Massively-Multi-Online-Role-Playing-Games (or MMORPGs). The one that gets the most flack is World of Warcraft or (WoW) but the truth is it doesn’t matter which game it is. These types of games allow a kid or teen to adopt a different persona while online, and can lead to some very blatant changes in a child’s behavior, attitude and social life. Typically it manifests in a kid losing interest in the most important things in their young lives, such as: Keeping up their grades, seeing friends, playing sports and every kid’s worst nightmare, doing their required chores. In some cases teens with part-time jobs will end up quitting to focus more and more on their video or computer game of choice.

One of the factors that draws kids into the deep world of video games is the ability to do things in the virtual world that would be considered absolutely horrendous and no doubt illegal in the real world. Whether it be crashing a car into another, going on killing sprees or even commanding a host of ugly trolls to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting enemy. More to the point, these behaviors online or in the world of video games have no real life consequences. The result of having no consequences in real life can be a major factor in damaging a child’s emotional development and can result in serious ramifications down the line.

Video game and Internet addiction are not actual Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV classifications, although the American Medical Association is reviewing research in order to determine whether they should be included in the next update of the manual. Many mental health professionals feel that video games are similar to gambling as an addictive process. By some estimates, as many as 10 percent of gamers exhibit addictive behavior.

The escape that kids and even some adults find in video games may not seem as severe as smoking, drinking or experimenting with drugs, but when their entire lives become about logging into their favorite game for a tremendous number of hours and not being able to stop, we begin to understand why some are beginning to classify compulsive video gaming as a real addiction. While the addiction is most likely psychological, there are some physical signs that can manifest, similar to an addiction to a wide variety of substances.

The following are some symptoms for parents to watch out for in the case where they may suspect their kids have gone too far when it comes to their video game playing:

 

  • Most non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games
  • Falling asleep in school
  • Falling behind with assignments
  • Worsening grades
  • Lying about computer or video game use
  • Choosing to use the computer or play video games, rather than see friends
  • Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports)
  • Being irritable when not playing a video game or being on the computer

There also are physical symptoms that may point to addiction:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Backaches or neck aches
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Failure to eat regularly or neglecting personal hygiene

While the psychology and psychiatric communities may not have acknowledged compulsive video gaming as a serious problem yet, many families are experiencing this tricky issue. If you do notice a significant change in behavior of a child, it is important to seek help from a trusted therapist who many understand the issue. A guidance counselor may also be useful in helping a teen get back on track. If the problem persists, there are in fact professional rehabilitation centers that provide in-house programs to help your child.

 

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Sobriety Foundation

Parents Need to Be On The Lookout For a New Drug That’s Taking Kids By Storm: Video Games

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