“Being part of the Nintendo generation taught me that turning on a game was an easy escape from reality. Whatever academic, social, or occupational problems haunted me during the day, there was always a place I could succeed: video games. For people who struggle in reality, gaming and technology can easily takeover as the watermark for success. How can we recognize problematic usage of technology and gaming? How can we help those who seem to be stuck in a pattern of abuse?” – Daniel Folmer, LPC-Intern
Can Gaming be Beneficial to the Brain?
- Video gamers show improved skills in vision, attention and certain aspects of cognition.
- Gamers perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking – (Daphne Beveller, University of Rochester)
- Facebook – Bullying, Gossiping, Predators
- Video Games – Violence, Drugs, Alcohol
- Twitter – Uncontrolled Communication
- Chat Roulette
- Text Messaging
Screen Time – How Much is too Much?
A University of Bristol study surveyed 1,000 kids ages 10 and 11. Over a period of seven days, the children filled out a questionnaire reporting how much time they spent either watching TV or at a computer – something doctors call “screen time” – and answered questions describing their mental state. An accelerometer measured physical activity levels.
Kids who spend more than two hours of screen time a day were 60% more likely to have psychological difficulties such as depression or ADHD. Those who got more physical activity fared better than their sedentary peers, those with more screen time still scored worse in behavioral areas such as hyperactivity.
According to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, teens who spend more time watching television or using computers seem to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers.
61% spend around 20 hours of screen time per week, on average
32% spend around 40 hours of screen time per week
7% are exposed to more than 50 hours of screen time per week
Source: American Heart Association’s 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.
Prolonged exposure to rapid image changes during critical periods of brain development (like on a TV show designed for an infant) may precondition the mind to expect high levels of stimulation. This may then make the pace of real life less able to sustain our children’s attention. The more hours a child views rapid-fire television, the more likely they will have attention challenges later in life.
- Kids under 2-years-old should not watch any TV
- Kids older than 2 should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics
TECHNOLOGY AND ADDICTION
Internet Addiction Disorder
Salience: Using the Internet dominates the person’s life, feelings and behavior.
Mood modification: The person experiences changes in mood (e.g., a “buzz”) when using the Internet.
Tolerance: Increasing amounts of Internet use are needed to achieve the same effects on mood.
Withdrawal symptoms: If the person stops using the Internet, they experience unpleasant feelings or physical effects.
Relapse: The addict tends to relapse into earlier patterns of behavior, even after years of abstinence or control. (Griffiths, 2003)
Iowa State University Professor Douglas Gentile found that 8.5% of 1,178 youths studied are addicted to video games, using the same standards for addiction used for pathological gamblers.
Youth included in the study played video games 24 hours per week. They were more likely to have video games in the bedroom. Youth addicted to video games were also twice as likely to have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Youth studied were found to have attention deficits in school, lower grades, were inclined to steal, and had more health problems.
Teens, who play violent video games, may exhibit lingering effects on brain function, including increased activity in the region of the brain that governs emotional arousal and decreased activity in the brain’s executive function, which is associated with control, focus and concentration. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Compared with the group that played the nonviolent game, the group that played the violent video game demonstrated less activation in the prefrontal portions of the brain, which are involved in inhibition, concentration and self-control, and more activation in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional arousal.
A study in China has shown that teens spending at least five- to 10-hours a day on the web are one-and-a-half times more likely to develop depression than moderate users
A loss of interest in social interaction and other symptoms of addictive behavior is present among teens who spend an excessive amount of time browsing or playing games online.
Some teens show signs of anxiety while away from the computer.
Why do Kids Play Internet Games?
What Can Parents Do
Few children are excited to have the activities they love taken away or limited. When making a change to the habits in your home, provide logical reasoning for placing a limit. Your child does not have to agree with you, but, by providing fact-based reasoning, you demonstrate working in the best interest of the child rather than a sudden burst of authority.
If you feel your child is engaged in TV or Video Games extensively and want them to do something else, help to give alternative activities to meet similar needs. Here is a list of more positive, real-world based activities to supplement your child’s technology usage:
SPORTS YOUTH GROUP SCOUTS
NATURE SCHOOL CLUBS FINE ARTS
Remember, you are the parent and the role model for healthy living. Help your child make healthy choices by setting an example and making a change for the family and not only the child.
Begin the conversation by identifying family and personal values, and then move towards negative behaviors you have seen increase/exist.
Meeting Your Child’s Emotional Needs
- Expect to meet with resistance initially and allow for your child to voice opinion and show emotion
- When setting a limit, provide a replacement activity for your child while making a transition to a new habit/behavior
- Be clear that you are setting a boundary rather than entering negotiations
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings and argument against making a change. Remember acknowledging is not agreeing, it just shows “you heard” your child
- Listen and show empathy without changing your position
- Be consistent in your expectations and have clear consistent consequences that are enforceable
- Provide verbal and non-verbal encouragement when your child is making appropriate choices
- Note positive changes you observe: better sleeping habits, increased productivity, greater patience and tolerance, respectful communication . . .
Concrete Limits and Boundaries That Can and Need to Be Set
- LIMIT SCREEN TIME TO 2 HOURS A DAY OR LESS
- REMOVE MEDIA FROM THE TEEN’S ROOM
- MONITOR USAGE OF MEDIA (PHONE, COMPUTER, X-BOX)
- USE LIGHT TIMER
- USE TECHNOLOGY AS A WAY TO REWARD TEENS FOR ACHIEVING ACADEMIC OR FUNCTIONAL GOALS
- ENSURE THAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE KNOWLEDGABLE ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DANGERS OF TECHNOLOGY
- CYBERBULLYING, SEXTING, PREDATORS
- TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT THEIR TECHNOLOGY USAGE
You can contact Daniel Folmer to schedule an appointment or arrange for Daniel to come speak to your group about Internet Gaming at: