The Teenage Gaming Epidemic : 7 Ways to Help Protect Your Son

Families are locked in a fierce battle against teenage sons who are addicted to a world of online bloodshed.

Online gaming is turning teenage boys into violent thugs, forcing families to take out domestic violence orders against their sons.

Multi-player online gaming is affecting boys much more than girls, primarily because girls are far more interested in social media.

Boys are literally assaulting their moms and dads when they turn the game off at night.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists spokesman, Dr. Huu Kim Le, a child psychiatrist specializing in gaming addiction, reports to News Corp that he is currently treating several children who were violent towards their parents.

“I had a kid last week who had an ornamental knife on his desk.” Dr. Le said.

“He was shouting at his online game and his mom walked in and said he’d better keep it down, and he threatened her with the knife. He said how about I slice your throat?”

“Kids are getting desensitized to violence; there’s a shutting down of empathy.”

Internet addiction expert and teen psychiatrist Dr. Phillip Tam warned that kids using online games “have become increasingly cranky with their parents and are getting violent.”

“Parents are afraid of their children,” he said.

“Kids are literally assaulting their dads when they turn the game off at night. I had a dad end up at hospital because he got punched in the face.

Violence orders have been taken out – I’ve had parents call the police because their 15-year-old son was violent.”

The psychiatrists have spoken out amid growing alarm about the impact of digital services on children’s physical and mental health.

In 2018, the USA alone recorded $44 billion (+7.2%) in sales of video games, according to Ibis World.

Dr. Le said that he recently had a pediatrician refer a boy to him that kept soiling his pants without any physical explanation.

“The boy just told me that he was so immersed in the game,” Dr. Le said.

“Children will soil themselves rather than leave the game and go to the toilet.”

Dr. Tam said internet addiction looked “very similar to drug addiction.”

“Parents are frustrated that some kids have completely dropped out of school because they’re gaming all night and sleeping all day;” he said.

Dr. Tam also reported that “some games are so addictive that kids were hacking school Wi Fi systems to play on school lap tops during classes.

“I’ve had one class with three quarters of the students all online at the same time playing a game and the teacher didn’t know it.”

Addiction researcher at the Queensland Brain Institute, Dr. James Kesby said many online games trigger hits of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

“They’re copying casinos and gambling games that try to get people to spend more money by giving little bonuses. Dopamine is the key to keep players wanting to get that reward again and again.”

So, in the face of all this worrying evidence, what can parents do to help ensure that their teens avoid becoming another gaming addict? Let’s find out together.

 

7 Ways to Help Keep Your Teen Safe from Gaming Addiction

  

    1. Have rules for computer use

To begin with, the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that children aged 6 and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use.

Unfortunately, many parents fail to follow these guidelines and allow their children to spend countless hours in front of a screen, in this case, playing games.

However, though video games, depending on the type, can enhance the child’s patience and problem-solving skills, they may become a problem when the child finds it difficult to stop.

Since it may be all too overwhelming for a youngster, begin reducing their video gaming gradually. Explain to them the major reasons why they need to cut back on their screen time like abusive language, poor academic performance, disinterest in other hobbies, etc.

Tell them the game does not have to completely go away if they follow the rules you have put forward. If they do not, you can delete the game for good.

     2. Do not rush the use of electronics

Of course, in today’s world where electronics seem to rule our lives, it has become challenging to not give our child access to a phone or a computer much earlier than the age of 6. However, this may be pivotal in the prevention of video game addiction.

Kurt and Olivia Bruner, married since 1985, and book authors with four children and writers for Family Life Today, emphasize that the earlier your kid begins to play games on the computer, the more is he/she exposed to addiction-causing patterns.

For example, the child who is used to eating junk food from early on will lose their appetite for healthy food and in a similar fashion; they may become too attached to video games because of the dopamine high from prolonged playing of video games if they start gaming from young age.

Consequently, they may become more attracted to virtual rather than natural play which is important for their growth, happiness, and health.

    3.  Family time matters

In addition to having limited internet and computer time, it could also be beneficial to set up a family time. Make this period entirely about your family and spending time together. And, most importantly, make sure there are short-term consequences when someone is not participating.

Sara Bean, M.Ed. and a certified school counselor and former parent coach with over 10 years of experience in working with children and families encourages parents to motivate their children to participate in some activity they would enjoy, for example, to play some sport, enroll in some club or participate in a youth group.

Let the final decision be theirs and until they find some activity that they can enjoy, minimize their time in front of their computer and emphasize that spending time with family and friends is what matters the most, especially during weekends when there is no school.