Internet Gaming Disorder

With the increasing popularity and accessibility of online games and the rise of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), it’s essential for parents and caregivers to learn how to approach this sensitive topic with their kids.

The world of technology and gaming has become an integral part of the lives of children today. With the increasing popularity and accessibility of online games and the rise of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), it’s essential for parents and caregivers to learn how to approach this sensitive topic with their kids. Addressing IGD in a supportive and understanding manner can help children develop healthy gaming habits and cope with the challenges that may arise from excessive gaming.

Guide to talking to your kids about Internet Gaming Disorder

1. Acknowledge their feelings

Start the conversation by acknowledging your child’s interest and passion for gaming. Recognise that gaming is a normal and enjoyable activity for many young people. By validating their feelings and interests, you create an atmosphere of trust, making it easier for your child to open up about their gaming habits.

2. Educate yourself about Internet Gaming Disorder

Before talking to your child, take the time to educate yourself about Internet Gaming Disorder. Understand the symptoms, risk factors, and potential consequences associated with excessive gaming. This knowledge will empower you to have a more informed and empathetic conversation. Problematic gaming occurs when an individual’s gaming habits become excessive and negatively impact various areas of their life. It may lead to a loss of control over gaming time and engagement.

Some signs of problematic gaming include:

  • Excessive playtime: Spending an excessive amount of time playing video games to the detriment of other essential activities, such as work, school, social life, and physical health.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Prioritising gaming over responsibilities, resulting in neglect of academic, professional, or personal duties.
  • Withdrawal from social interactions: Problematic gamers might withdraw from real-life social interactions, preferring to spend most of their time in virtual gaming environments.
  • Negative impact on mental health: Compulsive gaming can lead to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and mood swings, especially when unable to play.
  • Physical health issues: Long gaming sessions can lead to physical problems, such as eyestrain, backaches, and sleep disturbances.
  • Escapism: Using gaming as a way to escape from real-life problems or challenges, leading to a cycle of avoidance and increased gaming.

Understanding the underlying needs that gaming fulfills for an individual is crucial in developing effective intervention or resource-building plans that can help meet those needs in real life. For many gamers, gaming serves as an escape from stress, a source of social connection, a means of achievement, or an outlet for creativity. By identifying these specific needs, tailored strategies can be designed to incorporate healthier alternatives and activities that address those requirements in the real world.

For example, if social connection is a primary need fulfilled through gaming, intervention plans could focus on promoting social clubs or group activities in the community. Similarly, if gaming provides a sense of achievement, resource-building plans might involve setting and accomplishing personal goals in academics, sports, or hobbies.

By bridging the gap between virtual fulfilment and real-life experiences, these comprehensive plans empower individuals to strike a balance between gaming and other aspects of life, ultimately fostering a more well-rounded and fulfilling existence.

3. Set boundaries & limits

Work together with your child to set reasonable boundaries and time limits for gaming. Involving them in the decision-making process will make them more likely to adhere to the agreed-upon rules.

4. Model healthy behaviours

Children often learn by example. Model healthy screen time habits by demonstrating a balanced approach to technology use in your own life. Engage in activities together that do not involve screens, fostering quality time and bonding.

5. Celebrate non-gaming achievements

Encourage and celebrate your child’s achievements outside of gaming. Whether it’s excelling in academics, sports, or creative endeavours, recognising their accomplishments in other areas can boost their self-esteem and reduce the reliance on gaming for validation.

Discussing Internet Gaming Disorder with your child requires empathy, understanding, and open communication. By addressing the topic in a supportive manner, you can help your child develop a healthier relationship with gaming, promoting overall well-being and balance in their life. Remember to stay patient and be a source of support as they navigate the challenges associated with gaming in today’s digital age.

If you are concerned that your child or adolescent needs more support with respect to their internet gaming, reach out to Shane Southwood who has a particular area of interest in Internet Gaming Disorder and is a RES@T-A program facilitator (external website).

Practitioners experienced in therapy for Internet Gaming Disorder

To make your first appointment, please call us on 4363 6600.

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