Often, I have parents walking into my office, sharing the same frustrating and tiresome look, saying “It’s the games”. Students got tagged along do not usually give me eye contact – they prefer not to be here.
Why Gamers Game?
Like all other addictions, it’s because it satisfies the ABC within all of us.
A – Autonomy (it’s all about the gamer)
B – Belonging (sense of belonging in a community, more pronounced in on-line game rooms)
C – Confidence (gamers always win, won’t stop until the game is “conquered”)
In a 2-year longitudinal (tracking the same cohort of students over 2 years) study from Iowa State University tracking 3,034 students ranging 3rd and 8th grades, has found that about 8.5% of children who play video games are classified as pathologically addicted in Singapore. Other studies around the world identified the similar outcomes. Note that Singapore students generally have slightly greater access to games than their North American peers.
Recreational vs. Pathological Gamers. Where do we draw the line?
It’s about length of play. In the study, Recreational gamers net an average of 19 hours play time while Pathological gamers started with an average of 31 hours per week. Note that the hours suggested are not hard cutoffs. It’s the tendency that counts. As the number of screen time hours increases, so does the severity of addiction.
Pathological gamers exhibit issues such as increased social phobias, increased anxiety and generally received poor grades in school. Some have symptoms of several depression. The symtom severity increases along side the problems.
Sadly, there aren’t quick fixes. 84% of those who were first classified as pathological gamers remain in the same category after 2 years. During the same period, only 1% of the sample switch from recreational to pathological gamers. It shows this damaging addiction is very difficult to shake off without intervention.
What can parents do?
Limiting ACCESS is the key. Start with a curfew. One hour before bed-time in absolutely essential. Replacing screen time with meaningful activities that provide ABC we discussed earlier.
Does tutoring help?
It depends. One thing for certain, take away gaming altogether isn’t going to help. Quit cold turkey, especially when it’s forced upon, only increases the level of frustration and anxiety while animosity between family members manifests itself. Most often, students revert back to gaming (or other forms of addiction) quickly given the opportunity. Remember ABC? The trick is to replace gaming time with meaningful and productive activities, such as tutoring or sports activities. Tutoring could be amongst a basket of solutions and shouldn’t be seen as the only solution. In addition, there might be other important underlying issues such as depression and anxiety that lead to gaming addiction. Treating the underlying issues should be the priority.
The study cited in this article can be founded: http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2011/jan/addiction