Many parents, realizing the almost obsessive passion of their offspring for their game console, are worried. Is this really a good hobby? Are video games dangerous? Are they likely to turn children into compulsive gamblers?
Today, a majority of mental health experts agree that video games can be a source of some form of addiction. However, few players are addicted and there is no point in demonizing all the games en bloc!
It is estimated that less than 5% of video game users have a problem and addiction cases in children under 12 are extremely rare. As a parent, however, it is important to be vigilant.
Indeed, video games can provide some excitement to the player and they are known to be responsible for the release of neurotransmitters associated with euphoria (dopamine, endorphin). Their effect, for some users, could be similar to the effect of a drug!
The danger of network games
Games like World of Warcraft, Second Life or Everquest, which are networked on the Internet and are popular among teens and young adults, are perhaps the most dangerous.
Deformation of reality
Indeed, these games stage a virtual world that can sometimes be more attractive to the player than the real world in which it evolves. A teenager who does not have many friends, but whose avatar is a real hero in the virtual world, may be turning away from reality more and more, less rewarding than the game.
Afraid to give up action
In addition, these games are somehow designed to encourage misuse; the players do not want to leave their avatar to himself for several days! The risks of compulsive use are therefore increased with this type of games.
Symptoms of an addiction
How does one make the difference between a healthy use of video games and a compulsive behavior, an addiction? Here are some clues that could be symptoms that your child is addicted to video games:
- He plays every day, often for several hours.
- He can not reduce the time spent playing.
- He is irritable when you forbid him to play or he does not have access to his game.
- He chooses video games to the detriment of social or sports activities and even his studies (neglected homework, truancy, etc.).
- He sometimes misses meals to play or play late into the night.
- He tries to hide the time spent playing video games.
If you find that your child has many of these symptoms, he or she may be experiencing some form of video game addiction. If this is the case, you must take the necessary steps to help it, because the consequences can be serious.
What to do?
If you believe your youth is on a dangerous slope, you can help him get on the right path. It is better not to wait before acting; the younger the child, the more receptive he will be to your support.
Listen to your point of view
First, it is important that you demonstrate an interest in the world of video games. If you try to help your child without having any idea of the object of his passion, chances are you will not be credible in his eyes.