Video games, internet use and related activities can all have a negative impact on teens, and parents should be on the lookout for signs of such impacts, says Paul Weigle, MD, deputy medical director at the Natchaug Hospital, part of Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health. Network, who recently presented on this topic at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual conference.
Video games have been around for decades, but have become prolific in recent years, especially for teenagers, who saw their time spent playing quadruple between 2000 and 2019. The pandemic has exacerbated this phenomenon and doubled the time spent playing. average screen of Previous years.
“For most children, gaming can be a positive and enjoyable experience, but the increase in screen time we’re seeing has both pros and cons,” says Dr. Weigle, a national gaming expert. impact of screen time on children and adolescents.
One concern is that violent games can desensitize children to violence and lead to aggressive thoughts and behaviors, but Dr. Weigle said only a small minority of gamers are instigated to commit acts of violence themselves. These children need more intensive counseling and support, including family therapy sessions. A more common problem is video game addiction, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and social problems.
Gambling can be a problem if your child:
- Isolates himself.
- Ignore homework.
- Skip sleep.
- Gamble excessively.
- Shows signs of exhaustion.
- Withdraws from friends or family.
- Shows changes in mental health.
Dr. Weigle pointed out that gambling isn’t always bad, as some studies have shown a decrease in risky behaviors among teens since the rise of gambling. Teenagers have also been physically safer and less likely to be perpetrators or victims of violent crimes in recent years.
“When playing, children experience the pleasure of being fully immersed in an activity that requires their full attention and provides them with complete control. This is important during adolescence, as young people have a strong need to feel effective in their environment,” said Dr. Weigle.
Here are some steps parents can take to ensure their children play safely:
- Limit the game. Allow kids to reconnect with other outlets, hobbies, and peers, and prevent excessive play by requiring kids to join in on family dinner and turn off devices when it’s time to sleep. Note that confiscating video games is an option to avoid, as it can be perceived as threatening or upsetting and could lead to a negative reaction.
- Initiate family discussions. Be curious, rather than critical, and use this tool to find out more about the games your kids are playing – even consider trying them out.
- Maintain a predictable schedule. By allowing gambling to become part of family or social activities, parents can maintain control of the situation. This is especially important during the summer months when children have more free time and may be tempted to play video games excessively. “A plan that prioritizes structure for children is invaluable. A set routine is a powerful thing,” Dr. Weigle said.
“We know that youth engagement in video games increases and is habit-forming by design, but good parental supervision using positive interactions can prevent gaming-related mental health issues,” Dr. Weigle said.