The pandemic has been difficult in many ways and has had negative effects on the wellbeing of both the old and the young. Children and teens especially have struggled with having their routines disrupted, with many of them turning to screens to keep their minds occupied.
Video games not only provide children with a way to escape their day-to-day lives, but can help them connect with friends over the internet. While this shift towards the digital world wasn’t a cause for concern during periods of lockdown, could children’s pastimes be transforming into something more worrying?
As things start to go back to normal, some parents are becoming worried that their children are now addicted to gaming. But is the pandemic to blame?
What causes gaming addictions?
Gaming addictions aren’t simply caused by playing games for an extended period of time. Addictions are incredibly complicated and usually arise from a variety of lifestyle, environmental and emotional factors, some of the most common reasons include:
- Being bullied at school
- Feeling isolated at home or within social circles
- Family problems such as arguments and parent’s going through a divorce
- Difficulties making friendships in “real life” and feeling socially isolated
- Using gaming as a way to “escape” pressures of normal life and other problems
- They feel popular online and find more appreciation there
Of course, not all children will use gaming as a coping mechanism and be at risk of addiction.
However, the pandemic has caused everyone to feel more stressed and pressured than usual, with some people struggling more than others. If your child is suffering from gaming addiction, COVID-19 could have been a factor. The combination of spending long periods indoors with the fear surrounding the virus is likely to have contributed to your child’s low mood.
Can gaming addictions be reversed?
If you do suspect that your child has a gaming addiction, there are lots of ways to get help. The first step is finding a professional to help your child work through their feelings, but there are things you can do at home as well:
Spending time outdoors
As restrictions are easing, encourage your child to spend time out of the house. This could be socialising with friends, exercising, or tagging along on a family shopping trip. Try to organise activities with other family members who don’t live in your household so your child has something to look forward to other than gaming.
Set time limits
Trying to set time limits on your child’s gaming can be difficult if they’re suffering from addiction. Your attempts may be met with hostility, so it’s important you work with a therapist to help your child to find more balance in their life. When reducing your child’s gaming time, try to introduce new activities to replace it with. This way, your child won’t be feeling bored or purposeless and they’ll have something new to focus their attention on.
Take the console out of their room
When on the path to recovery it can be helpful to move your child’s gaming system into a more communal area. When children play video games on their own in their room it’s much easier for them to lose control and harder for you to monitor their habits. Putting their consoles in the living room can make them more aware of the time they’re spending in front of a screen.
Remember, gaming addictions won’t go away on their own or disappear overnight. Help your child get the treatment they need today.