Video Games and your child's Mental health

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Video Games and your child's Mental health

The level of gaming can impact mental, emotional and physical health in a variety of ways

Video Games and your child's Mental health

“Five more minutes!”, this is the sound you hear every time you tell your child to get off the video games for the night. But you don’t hear it once. You hear it over and over again.

If you think your child’s love of video games has taken over his/her life and are worried about their wellbeing, it could be headed towards what the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially classified as a mental health disorder- gaming disorder.

Simply enjoying video games and playing them off and on, or easily getting caught up in video games for hours on end but eventually turning it off and returning to other activities may not signify gaming disorder or video game addiction, according to the WHO.

However, when the technology starts interfering with personal, family, or social health, it can officially become a “problem” that leads to other negative consequences.

Signs of video game addiction that you can look for as a parent include:

  • Impaired control over gaming (e.g. onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
  • Increasing priority is given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities.
  • Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences

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“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months,” said WHO.

Kuldeep Sharma, a parent of two kids says, “Excessive video gaming is found to be associated with positive emotions and social relationships while playing. However, its addiction can cause maladaptive tendencies, negative emotions and attitudes, low self-esteem, loneliness, and poor academic performance.”

Anita Gulati, a mother of an 11-year-old boy, says, “My kid plays a lot of video games and I’m worried because I feel video games are bad. They affect human behaviour and health. It has several negative impacts, such as eyestrain, sleep disorders, mental disorders. Moreover, video games can also cause violent behaviour.”

How can video game addiction affect health?

Puja Roy, Therapist of Mental Health(MSC in Psychology, Gold medalist), says, “When video game usage gets out of hand and becomes video game addiction, it means the person playing can’t stop even when continued playing causes negative consequences.

This level of gaming can impact mental, emotional and physical health in a variety of ways, including:

  • Increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol from a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise
  • Neglected social skills due to lack of engagement with others outside of an electronic environment
  • Problems with concentration and attention due to rapid movements and fast-paced action of video games
  • Developmental problems due to avoidance of tasks that promote learning, self-discovery, and personal development
  • Seizures and repetitive stress injuries from flickering graphics, lights and colours that may trigger episodes in epilepsy patients
  • Increased aggression or violent behaviour due to the content of some types of video games

Is there anything good about gaming?

After discussing the harms of gaming, it is only fair to mention the benefits. Aside from being a fun pastime, gaming can provide a way for people to interact with each other in a virtual community, as they interact with each other. Our society suffers from an epidemic of loneliness, and gaming can be help people who find it difficult to connect with others in traditional ways.

There is mixed research that there are some cognitive benefits to gaming, such as better control of one’s attention and improved spatial reasoning, though it isn’t entirely clear how much these benefits extend outside of the video game sphere into the real world. Finally, video games have medical applications, such as training people with degenerative diseases to improve their balance, helping adolescents with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to improve their thinking skills or training surgeons on how to do technically complicated operations.

Just like other enjoyable activities like gambling, drinking alcohol, or even eating food can be completely safe when done in moderation, video game playing can be fun, enjoyable and safe when used in healthy doses. It’s when gaming begins to take over one’s life that it can lead to harmful consequences and even be diagnosed as a gaming disorder.

As video games and technology become increasingly popular, they have proven to have a massive impact on cultural attitudes, psychological development, and lifestyle choices of both children and adults. However, it’s important to note that only a small number of people play video games to the extent they would be classified as having a gaming disorder or video game addiction as outlined by the WHO.