With the advent of smartphones, tablets, and computers, online gaming has become more accessible than ever. While online gaming can be a fun and enjoyable experience for children, there is a growing concern that it can lead to addiction. What is the right approach where children can enjoy online gaming in moderation and avoid the negative consequences associated with addiction?
The world of online gaming is forever expanding and has become extremely popular over the past decade among younger generations. Although online gaming can help children learn how to socialise and develop observational skills and problem-solving, it can also cause more harm than good if time is not monitored and addiction sets in.
Cybersecurity expert Lauren Mak at VPNOverview.com has put together some top tips on spotting gaming addictions in children and how to prevent them in the hopes that parents and guardians can allow their children to enjoy online gaming without suffering harmful repercussions.
How do children develop an online gaming addiction?
It is easy to try to pinpoint one reason why children and teenagers develop gaming addictions, but in any case, there may be more than one. Children may be exposed to gaming from an early age; for example, playing games like Animal Crossing and Minecraft can introduce children to gaming. As the child gets older and more advanced, they seek more challenging, engaging games to move onto.
Children can also be drawn to the graphics and stories behind games and use them to escape from real life. Not only this, but kids who are particularly anxious or have attention deficit disorders can be more inclined to become addicted to video games.
Warning signs of gaming addiction
Gaming addiction, also known as Internet Gaming Disorder, is a serious problem that affects a growing number of people worldwide. It is characterised by excessive and compulsive use of online games, leading to negative consequences in other areas of a person’s life.
Lack of interest: One of the common warning signs is a loss of interest in things they once shared interest in and have no desire to take part in other activities other than gaming. This can limit a child from being able to pursue other hobbies that they could be exceptional at and even go on to have a career in.
Withdrawal symptoms: Children who are addicted to gaming may experience irritability, hostility, mood swings, impatience, depression, anxiety, and anger when not gaming, even for short periods.
Absence of thought towards personal care: Children addicted to gaming may suffer from insomnia and disruption in eating patterns. These will have a detrimental effect on a child as they will struggle to deal with everyday tasks and even develop eating disorders.
Inability to look after personal hygiene: Children spending hours or even days in gaming neglect their basic personal hygiene needs, like brushing their teeth, or taking a shower. This can lead to unpleasant body odour, skin rashes, and even infections, ultimately affecting their mental health.
Concentration in school: A sudden drop in performance due to trouble when focusing could affect the schoolwork and studies are vital to helping children have successful careers and develop as adults.
Decreased amounts of compassion: A child who is addicted to gaming will show no empathy for his family or peers. This will make it harder for the child to create healthy social connections with people and can lead to serious mental health problems.
Physical consequences from excessive gaming
• Heightened chronic stress levels, resulting in lowered immune function. This puts children at a higher risk of catching infections and poor health conditions.
• Headaches and migraines might hinder their everyday routines and make the child feel exhausted and burnt out.
• Weight gain: A sedentary lifestyle could give rise of increased weight gain and obesity.
• Postural problems, leading to chronic back pain, joint disfiguration, and spinal issues.
• Seizures caused by graphics, lights, and colours in games, leading to possible injury, trauma, and other long-term effects.
Remedy for gaming addiction
Following are some of the effective ways by experts that can help parents to manage gaming addiction in their children:
Talking to the child: Spending quality time with children to help them identify their symptoms, and create a plan that might help them overcome their problems and symptoms is an effective strategy.
Encouraging healthy use of screens and downtime: It is important to encourage the child to spend less time online for example. The more engaging time they spend offline with their family and peers, the more they understand that offline time could be as exciting as they feel online.
Offering strategies for coping with withdrawal: Children might need support to deal with themselves when they are not gaming. An exercise or something that stimulates the brain would be a great help to keep their mind off gaming.
Parental controls: It is advised to monitor a child’s gaming for limited periods. However, parents should be open with their children, letting them enjoy their right to privacy while making them realise the need for parental controls.
A positive attitude to gaming: It may seem counterintuitive, but showing an interest in gaming could lead to more positive conversations towards making healthier choices and make them sympathetic towards parental wishes.
An expert from VPNOverview.com commented on the study:
“Whilst online gaming can be a fantastic way for children and teenagers to increase cognitive skills, develop social awareness and enhance creativity, there is a risk that the child can develop an addiction because of spending too much time playing online.
It is important to remember that whilst you want your child or teenager to have fun and explore online gaming, you want them to be safe and develop healthy habits when it comes to spending time online whilst not intruding on their privacy.
There are always ways to prevent, spot and stop a gaming addiction, healthily and safely, so if you think this is something your child is at risk of, you are not alone. That is why these tips are an excellent indication of the things to look out for in a child who enjoys online gaming and ways to start getting rid of an addiction that may be taking over both of your lives.”
Founder Dinis Guarda
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