Children love video games and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Video games can help a child develop eye-hand coordination and computer skills.
In fact, a survey found that surgeons who play computer games commit fewer surgical errors than non-game-playing surgeons.
But when kids start obsessing about video games to the point of neglecting their schoolwork or refusing to play outside, it’s time for parents to step in.
To help you out, we’ve listed some ways to spot video game addiction and share suggestions on how to deal with it.
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Top 3 telltale signs of video game addiction
1. Neglects his basic needs
If you have trouble getting your child to the dinner table even though his favourite dish is waiting for him, you may have a problem.
Children who have a video game addiction often end up ‘forgetting’ their basic needs like eating, sleeping and drinking water. This can even lead to death, like in the case of Chris Staniforth, a 20-year-old who died from a blood clot that formed because he sat in the same position for hours, playing with his Xbox.
2. Withdrawal from friends and family
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Kids with a video game addiction will often choose to play video games indoors instead of joining their friends for a fun outdoor activity.
So if your child starts spending less time with his close friends or completely ignores family members because he’s playing his video games, you need to take notice… before it’s too late.
3. Ignores his schoolwork or chores
If your child’s teachers are constantly calling you to complain about your child’s inability to finish his homework, or you see that his grades are dropping, or he neglects chores which he used to do diligently, it’s time to get help. Nip his video game addiction in the bud before it’s too late.
How to help cure your child of his video game addiction
Find healthy alternatives
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Try to enrol your child in a new sports or enrichment class that he has shown interest in before. This will provide a good distraction for him.
If he is reluctant to leave his computer, tell him you will only let him play his video games if he attends a new class regularly or goes outside to play more often.
Of course, it would also be good to spend more time with your child, by taking him out regularly and involving him in more family activities.
Often, kids with a video game addiction just need to know that there are more worthwhile ways to spend their time — and that you’re willing to spend that time with them.
Set reasonable time limits
Instead of making your child give up his video game addiction and quit ‘cold turkey’, set time limits for him to play his video games.
Remember that it’s important to stay firm and put your foot down if he tries to bend the rules. You may be met with crying or even a full-blown tantrum, but remind him that it’s for his own good.
To show him you are serious about this time limit, set an alarm or timer next to the computer so that he is aware of how much time he has left.
If he refuses to stop playing, remember to deduct that time from his next playing session. For example, if he goes overtime by 10 minutes, deduct 10 minutes off his agreed playing time the next day.
As frustrating as it can be, try not to yell or grab the game away from him as this may aggravate the situation.
If all else fails, keep games locked up
If the child is not making a conscious effort to follow the rules, parents may choose to keep his video games locked up. Take them out only during stipulated ‘gaming times’ and never leave them unattended.
At the end of the day, monitoring your child’s time playing video games may require a bit of effort on your part, but at least it will ensure that he doesn’t waste away in front of the computer or TV screen for hours.
Lastly, don’t despair if your child has a video game addiction — there is always hope! You just need to take action as early as possible. Remember, it may be challenging at times but you can do it!
What other suggestions do you have for helping kids who have a video game addiction? Leave a comment and share them with us!
Sources: Additude Mag, Ezine Articles