There is nothing wrong with gaming in moderation, but if you are concerned that a young person in your care has problematic behaviours toward gaming, it’s best to seek support. So far there have been several treatment options identified including therapeutic counselling, medication and/or self-help groups. Healthy habits can support young people to maintain positive gaming behaviours.
What is Gaming Disorder?
The NHS has launched a new service which will tackle behaviours associated with ‘gaming disorders’. The new ‘Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders’ will support young people who are ‘seriously addicted’ to gaming.
According to WHO, ‘gaming disorder’ involves patterns of behaviour so severe that they result in a ‘significant impairment’ in education, social and family activities for at least 12 months.
The WHO have offered reassurance that ‘gaming disorder’ will only affect a small proportion of those who play games. Setting positive boundaries around game playing can support young people to develop healthy gaming habits.
“Put parameters down when it comes to how long they’re allowed to play- don’t allow them to have tech in their rooms after lights out and ensure that they have alternative activities whether they be sports or clubs that make them engage with their peers in the real world- if you are still concerned then seek the help of a professional counsellor.”
It’s important to note that young people with existing mental health needs incl. depression, anxiety, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be more susceptible to ‘gaming disorder’.
What do you need to look out for?
Symptoms of ‘gaming disorder’ can be:
Choosing to play games rather than socialise or do activities they previously enjoyed
Lying about how the amount of time spent on gaming
Inability to concentrate or focus on learning or participating in school or sports
Feeling irritable, impatient and restless without access to games
Excessive desire to be alone to play games
Constant tiredness, low mood and an inability to sleep
Headaches, eye strain, neck pain and repetitive strain injury caused by gaming
Where can I go for help?
You may want to speak to your GP in the first instance or a parent’s advice line.
For confidential parenting and family support you can contact Family Lives on their website or on 0808 800 2222.