Video game addiction goes beyond passion for video games. It is a pattern of addictive behavior, where playing digitally or video is the highest priority in a person's life. This intense attachment interferes with the subject's daily routine and affects his mental and physical well-being.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes video game addiction as a mental illness. The diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association does not consider it an official disorder, but recommends further study of this phenomenon. Symptoms, according to WHO, include a change in ability to control gambling, a prevalence of gambling over other interests and activities – to the point of resulting in discomfort or altered functioning – and a playful continuum, despite the negative consequences.
There are a number of warning signs that can be pursued in the concern that a child has an addiction to video games:
- Has the child withdrawn from sports, clubs, or other activities that do not involve video games?
- Does the child interact primarily with other members of the video game community?
- Has the child's academic performance diminished while increasing interest in games?
- Does the video game take up most of your free time?
- Do video games change the child's sleep patterns?
If any of the answers are affirmative, it is possible that the child is developing an addiction to video games.
It is also vital to pay attention to the child's emotional reactions when she can not participate in these video games. A video game person is usually extremely angry, anxious or annoyed when thinking that you should stay away from video games for more than a short period of time. By being an addictive disorder, it is difficult for those who have addiction in video games to reduce the amount of time they invest in them. When faced with time lost in the game, people in this situation generally do not admit that they need to reduce it and many insist that their behavior is normal.
It is also important to note that video game addiction can significantly affect physical health. Due to the sedentary nature of most video games, people with addiction tend to do little physical activity, which carries the risk of increasing body mass index. The result of such an increase may be Obesity, high blood pressure, liver problems and type 2 diabetes. People who have developed this condition usually do not take steps to deal with these health problems.
In this context, we must remember the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics on digital screens: Children under 18 or 24 months should not use social media, unless it is for videoconferences; in children 2 to 5 years old, you should limit the time in front of a screen to no more than one hour per day and a good quality program; As the child grows, the idea that something can serve everyone does not work very well and you will have to say how many social media the child uses daily, as well as the appropriate types.
If you are concerned about your child's health, make an appointment with your doctor. This professional can assess the situation, guide and, if necessary, refer you to a mental health specialist.
If you think your child's behavior does not reach the level of video game addiction, but you think it would be beneficial to lessen the time spent in front of a screen, try the following: Set up technology-free times during meals, for example, or activities and specific family outings. Make sure that everyone, including adults, moves away from the screens during those periods. Remove the screens from the rooms. Set daily and weekly curfews and curfews for the time that can be spent in front of a screen and have them applied. For example, let's say that all devices and monitors are turned off an hour before bed and carry the appliances out of the rooms at night.
Keep a conversation with the family about the time they spend in front of a screen at home, taking into account the values and priorities of the group. Talk about the importance of setting boundaries and the benefit of doing activities that do not involve electronic devices or video games, such as reading, playing sports, or talking cheerfully face to face. Remind your children that learning positive ways to connect and disconnect from screens and video games can often help them protect their safety and health.
About the author: La Dr. Angela Mattke is a specialist in medicine for children and adolescents at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (United States).