Are you the parent of a fan of video games? Do you have a child who spends 6 hours a day playing video games? If so, chances are that your child is addicted.
Some parents might be hesitant to allow their children to play video games since they might wonder how much of an influence video games might have on their kids. On the other hand, Some gamers may sever close relationships in order to focus on playing video games rather than spending time with their family. This phenomena is frustrating to the parents of gamers, and as people become more engrossed in games, the consequences are concerning on the teenage population. Do video games that involve violence, sexual content, and strong language influence the behavior of teenagers? How should parents, or even the players themselves, fix this?
Teenagers are pouring money into the gaming industry. This is already a problem itself, as most video games are fairly expensive for teenagers. In some cases, where teens do not have enough money to purchase a game, they have even taken money from their mother’s purse. An article by Tom’s guide reports that in 2010, a 12-year-old boy took his mom’s credit card and spent $1400 on FarmVille, a Facebook game. After the incident, the boy was shocked by the final amount processed, but the mother said that the boy knew what he had done. When she asked him why he did it, he responded with, “it brought out good stuff that I wanted.”
A video game addict can easily lose control of his or her finances. Firstly, top tier gaming equipment is required to operate games smoothly and are very pricey. Additionally, video game addicts would also like to subscribe to video game content monthly in order to unlock exclusive items that would make the gaming experience more entertaining. Teenagers may not need to worry about these factors as their parents are often the ones keeping track of anything that they purchase–notwithstanding extreme cases where a teenager steals money from their parents. On the other hand, parents who regularly purchase video games for their children or for themselves may influence the teenagers’ view of importance towards the price of video games.
In most cases, teenagers will simply beg their parents to buy the game they want but they might also continue playing a free-to-play game for an excessive amount of time. This is due to the fact that playing free games requires non-paying players to spend lots of time to advance. Both of these possibilities may change the lives of a teenager, since buying games or begging their parents to buy them will eventually lessen the value of money from their perspective. This can also have an impact on how the kids develop financial skills as they grow up. On the other hand, teens who avoid the costs by playing free-to-play games may pour in hours and hours of time in a particular game, only to feel unsatisfied and frustrated.
Are all video games addicting and harmful to teenagers’ developing skills? Not necessarily, as some games are meant to help children in learning and polishing various kinds of skills, such as hand-eye coordination, problem solving, planning, resource management, multitasking, quick thinking, accuracy, strategy, situational awareness, and so on. For example, Human Resource Machine is a game about computer programming which the player is given a task and must complete it with given blocks of codes. This game makes computer coding very convenient as the player can just drag the code blocks into the script instead of typing it yourself. Some may argue that all of these skills can be attained through other means, which is true. However, the world is developing in technology everyday. Teenagers are introduced to engaging computer technology which may lead to a potential successful career. Video games also make learning fun; teenagers often play games that are colourful, attractive and have great animation.
Temptations of pleasure and satisfaction from video games may attract players to constantly be involved in gameplay, thus becoming addicted to a particular game. Video game addiction can be caused by constantly playing a video game that is particularly attractive and interesting to the player. An average teenager who is addicted to a game will most likely place playing video games as their top priority, which can cause the teenager to be distracted in school. In addition, game addicts usually tend to stay up late to play even more. This can have a substantial impact on the teenager’s health since he or she is not getting enough sleep and will not be as alert and may struggle to focus. These could result in student to not be able to show their fullest potential in school.
As the addiction worsens, video game addicts tend to spend more time playing and less interacting with the outer world including friends and family. This can lead to the teenager building up social anxiety, loneliness, depression, feelings of shame, and anger. Also, they may neglect personal hygiene, eat irregularly, and lack exercise, all of which are essential activities that each person should complete every day. There was an incident in Michigan where a student was so obsessed with video games that he dropped out of school to isolate himself from society and engross into gaming. His parents tried to take his computer away so that he would stop playing, but it only contributed to stronger resentment.
For parents who may be struggling to stop their children from playing video games or developing a video game addiction, there is still hope. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Brent Conrad, author of a book called “How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games”, discusses a few principles that you can follow to prevent your child from developing a video game addiction. Firstly, monitor your child’s priorities. As teenagers grow, they become more self-dependent and may drift away from family relationships. It becomes harder and harder to persuade them into realizing that they have a video game addiction. As soon as you find any signs of your child developing an addiction, you should give advice or guidance to your child. They must realize that they have an addiction and should take a break from playing video games every once in a while to avoid worsening the addiction. Secondly, you should try guiding your child in building interest in other hobbies that may have a more positive impact on their life. Lastly, avoid shaming or scolding your child as they may develop hatred or annoyance towards you or the entire family which can cut off social ties between you and your child. In the teenage years, your child can be very sensitive to your wordings or ideals that are directed to them. Use patience, casual advice, and guidance to maintain a healthy relationship so that your child can grow peacefully without any disturbance.
Addiction can be very impactful on a teenager’s time management, social skills, health, emotions, and finance. If approached carefully and precisely, even the most extreme video game addict will abide your wishes. Similar to drug addicts, there are facilities that can be used to help open up addicts into a brighter mood and away from their addiction. On the other hand, some video games that are for educational uses can be very intriguing as well. However, long hours of having a computer screen sitting in front of a teenager’s face may be harmful to their eyes and other parts of their body. Instead of playing video games, how about taking a nap?
COVER ILLUSTRATION BY Larry