Parents & Teenage Online Gaming
In my previous post I discussed 8 reasons why teenagers are increasingly likely to struggle with addiction to online gaming. Knowing the reasons is one thing, knowing what to do about it is another thing entirely. This post is a place to start for parents who have teenagers who are into online gaming.
Before I go any further just let me say from the outset that online gaming is a lot of fun, and it should not be construed from this post that there is anything inherently wrong with it as a hobby. But as with anything moderation is the key.
So what should be our response as parents and guardians of teenagers?
A good way to start may be to know the warning signs. There are tones of potential indicators, and some are listed below:
- Losing track of time online
- Having trouble completing home tasks/chores
- Falling grades at school – as homework becomes less of a priority (if one at all!)
- Isolation from family and friends
- Increased anger upon removal from the Internet
- Depleting general communication
- Negligence to eat and come out of the study/bedroom (away from the computer/console)
- Reluctance to communicate with family members after school/at the dinner table etc.
- Physical symptoms such as migraines, weight gain, dry eyes, strained vision, and sleep disturbances
If you suspect that your teenager is becoming increasingly attached to online gaming, the following pointers may help in re-connecting and directing them to a more stable digital diet:
- Encourage other interests and social activities: Get your teen out from behind the computer screen. Expose them to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, and afterschool clubs.
- Monitor computer use and set clear limits: Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s online activity, and limit time online. This will be most effective if you as parents follow suit. If you can’t stay offline, chances are your children won’t either.
- Talk to your child about underlying issues: Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is it possible that your teen is suffering with deeper underlying issues? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress?
Gaming, like most past-times, is more than acceptable in moderation. Keep a watchful eye on your teen as they play games online, and even consider joining them.
Participating with gaming teens is becoming more accessible these days, as companies such as Nintendo have innovatively introduced titles such as Wii Fit that not only promotes a healthy, non-couch-potato lifestyle (and gaming style), but also encourages social playing with family and friends. Finding a way to keep the channels of communication open is of a high priority if parents are to help direct their teenager towards a healthy lifestyle.
Image by KRISnFRED