Staying home is the best thing we can all do to stem the spread of Covid-19 but this brings its own struggles as parents deal with a heady mix of anxiety and youthful energy, making gaming feel like both a blessing and a curse.
It can offer much-needed distraction, but something that can serve as an activity to relieve boredom or a way of socialising with friends can turn soon turn into an unhealthy habit, leading in turn to guilt and doubt as to whether our parenting skills are up to scratch.
Gaming does have positive attributes, providing a chance to socialise with friends and create virtual playdates as we look to keep in touch with those who are important to us. For single-child households this is particularly helpful as they get the chance to mix with people of their own age.
Rewards in the brain are released which provide feelings of happiness. These can come from winning a game, completing a level, getting the desired item from a loot box or winning virtual currency. The player then keeps on playing as the brain craves that feeling more and more.
The only fully formed part of the brain in a teenager at this age is that which seeks pleasure and reward. The need for the reward is instant so negative actions fail to register loudly enough to make them not stop and think about the consequences of their actions.
The gaming world can also create FOMO – the fear of missing out – with the virtual world continuously evolving, even when players are not online, and children so engaged in excessive online play that they are not aware of their actions or behaviours.
We have drawn up a list of signs to look out for that could indicate potential harm during the lockdown period. These do not necessarily mean your child is addicted to gaming but being aware of these signs can help you start monitoring patterns, changes in behaviour and have conversations with your child.
- Ensure they have finished online at least 30 minutes before bed to allow their brain to wind down.
- Encourage family time by introducing a tech-free zone where all devices are put away whilst eating so that everyone can sit and talk over dinner
- Take an interest in what they are doing. Spending time with your child 1 on 1 without the distraction of gaming is really powerful.
For more information on our advice please contact Amanda Atkinson – Head of Parental Engagement. firstname.lastname@example.org
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