A recent report has revealed that 8.5% of children aged between 8–18 suffer from online gaming addiction. A 2018 study also revealed that the intensity of ADHD symptoms can be linked to the severity of online gaming addiction.
Here are the top tips for weaning your teen off gaming, as well as identifying the key signs in spotting addiction:
Increased agitation and aggression
One of the earliest signs of gaming addiction in teenagers and young adults is increased agitation and aggression. As with most addictions, people are prone to intensified mood swings when experiencing withdrawals, making times such as the morning and coming in from school or work periods of heightened emotion. Such agitation can be amplified by the type of games your teen is playing; consistent exposure to violent games can subconsciously promote such behaviour. Increased agitation can affect relationships both inside and outside the home environment.
Lack of concentration
Struggling to concentrate or seeming consistently detached and preoccupied is another sign that your teen is addicted to gaming. As a result of the intense visual and auditory stimuli of video games, the real world and everyday interactions become dull and unfulfilling in comparison. Such a detachment and lack of interest can quickly begin to affect performance in school and extra-curricular activities.
Changes to schedule
Increased screen time is continuously linked to a lack of sleep which in turn disrupts a teen’s routine. Such disruption to a teen’s schedule will amplify the other symptoms of mood swings and a lack of concentration. Alongside this with any addiction, you can become preoccupied with an activity to the point of neglecting essential daily tasks. Over time, a teenager will put less time into his or her appearance, cleanliness and overall health.
Tips to combat a gaming addiction
- Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the key when trying to alter someone’s behaviour for the better. Offering consistent praise for doing exercise, working hard at school and on homework, as well as helping around the house will provide gratification and motivation to keep up productive and social activities. Negative reinforcement in this instance could cause resentment and increase urges to play video games.
- Alternative activities. Prompting your teen to be social and try new activities will keep them busy and over time, make them more inclined to crave social interaction as opposed to digital stimulus, promoting a healthier relationship with gaming. Even small steps within the home like having dinner together or going on a walk will offer positive distraction and interaction.
- No gaming in the bedroom. No gaming in the bedroom is vital when trying to combat a gaming addiction. Having 24-hour access will inevitably lead to late-night gaming and disruption of schedule. Ensuring games are played in communal areas will reduce temptation and allow you to better monitor your teen’s gaming habits.
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