Technology has completely transformed the gaming experience for modern-age kids. From massive game consoles in arcades to hand-held multiplayer internet-based games, gaming has gotten a complete makeover in a matter of years. While it is fascinating, parents are rightfully concerned about online gaming addiction in young kids. Let’s explore what it means and why you must look out for your teens.
What is Gaming Addiction?
The advent of hand-held devices paired with an ever-growing reach of the internet has turned human beings into tech addicts, and kids are no different. Though it is a relatively new phenomenon, online gaming addiction is (officially) recognized as a mental health issue by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Several studies suggest that online gaming addicts exhibit symptoms similar to other addictions, such as gambling, drugs, alcohol, etc. The next logical question is what makes online gaming so addictive, especially for young teens. Let’s take a closer look to understand it.
What Makes Online Gaming So Addictive?
Several factors make online gaming attractive for young minds. Teens with low self-esteem, poor social skills, boredom, loneliness, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, etc., face a greater risk of developing online gaming addiction. Such teens are more vulnerable to its adverse impacts too.
Online gaming seems like an alluring escape for teens. Young teens feel safer, less hesitant to speak their minds, and part of a community without worrying about in-person interactions. Moreover, numerous multiplayer games, such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings, Call of Duty, etc., require their players to level up.
As teens complete assigned tasks/quests, they receive rewards for their avatars, like enhanced skill sets, specialized equipment, increased powers, etc. That provides teens with a sense of accomplishment, thus improving self-esteem. Often multiplayer games require players to become members of a guild (organized teams usually led by a player). Becoming a member of such a team satisfies the need to belong and fit in with teens.
While all this sounds good and positive, it can quickly spiral into uncontrollable addictive behavior. How could that be? Let’s find out.
Negative Impact of Gaming Addiction on Teens
Teens with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, poor social skills, etc., may find it difficult to separate the virtual gaming world from reality. The avatars they take on in games have no real-world consequences. Moreover, online games often include violence, like killing others to gain victory over resources, land, armies, etc. Therefore, allowing teens to play violent games may expose them to severe mental health issues.
The more they interact with others online, the worse their real-life social skills become. Teens may get immersed in their games to the point where they can develop antisocial behavior. They may become indifferent to others’ pain and suffering.
With that in mind, parents must monitor their teens’ online activities. Doing so can help them intervene at vital moments and help their kids before it is too late. Here are a few tips to help parents prevent teens from developing online gaming addiction.
How to Prevent Online Gaming Addiction in Teens
Parents can utilize several preventive measures to ensure their teens do not develop an online gaming addiction.
Introduce Internet Rules
When your teens ask for more freedom about internet access, social media, online gaming, etc., know that it is time to modify house rules. If your teens have been bugging you for an Xbox or a high-speed internet connection so they can enjoy their gaming experience, call a family meeting. Listen to their demands, learn more about the games they play (or want to play), approve/deny their requests, and give them reasons why you are allowing/denying their demands.
Encourage Responsible Behavior
Form a plan of action. Encourage teens to read parental advisories of games themselves, or you can read them together. Do not allow internet access in bedrooms. Set consequences in case rules aren’t followed. Do not hesitate to employ parental control app (like FamilyTime) that can help you set firewalls and security features for teens’ online activities.
Keep A Watchful Eye on Teens
Establishing an open relationship with kids is paramount. Gain their trust; so they know you are on their side. It will help them understand why parents need to monitor their activities instead of seeing them as an invasion of their privacy. Use parental control apps like FamilyTime to help you in this matter.
How Can FamilyTime Help?
FamilyTime parental control app offers features like Internet Filter, Internet Schedule, App Blocker, App Usage Report, Screen Time Limit, BedTime, Screen Time Schedule, and so on. Parents can see what their kids do online and establish firewalls and safety nets accordingly. They can manage everything from their parental device too.
Parents must sit down with their kids and gently talk to them about their favorite games to prevent teens from developing online gaming addiction. Tell them that the avatars are simply fictional and that spending too much time with them is unhealthy. Technology is an integral part of our modern-day lives. Since we cannot stop our kids from using it, we must lessen their dependence on the internet and digital devices to help them manage healthy relationships.