If you weren’t already concerned about the effect of video games on your kids’ health, get this: The World Health Organisation (WHO) just classified gaming disorder as an actual disease. It says people with the condition could see “significant impairment” in their personal, family, social, education, and occupational lives. Technology addiction, whether it’s playing games on smartphones, tablets, consoles or PCs, is a real thing in our Internet age, and we certainly don’t want our children to suffer from it.
WHO describes gaming disorder as being characterised by a “pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour” online or offline. It said gaming disorders include the following symptoms:
1) Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
2) Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
3) Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
Ask yourself some of these questions to determine if your child may be developing a serious video game problem. Do they play daily? How long for? More than three hours? Do they get angsty and restless if they can’t play? Are they playing and not doing their homework? Have they lost interest in other real-life activities?
The WHO also warns about “hazardous gaming,” which the organisation says “refers to a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual”.
The idea is not to cut them off entirely. There are benefits to games – it can help boost creativity and cognitive skills. What’s important is to set rules and limits and be clear to the children about them. Review this check-list on how you can take back control of your kids’ game time…
Text: Good Health, Bauer Syndication / Additional Reporting: Sylvia Ong