“Gaming disorder” is now a thing, according to no less an authority than the World Health Organization. But how much gaming is too much? And how worried should parents be?
First things first: a gaming habit that reaches the level of “disorder” is rare. Experts estimate it affects no more than around nine percent of all gamers - adults and children alike. (No prizes for guessing that it’s far more common among males than females.)
That means literally billions of people around the world enjoy gaming safely.
But there are facts about gaming that every parent should be aware of, according to gamequitters.com.
For starters, games are designed to keep users hooked. The most compelling games are immersive experiences that stimulate dopamine production in the brain - as do all exciting experiences. But too much gaming can mean users become accustomed to a level of stimulation that, to be maintained, requires ever-greater exposure.
If that sounds like an addictive pattern, it’s because it is.
Game developers build in features that encourage what are essentially cravings for more: in-app purchases, microtransactions, loot boxes and the like.
Kids (and adults too) may be unaware that the companies who create games are not in it for the fun. They’re in it for the profit - and billions of dollars of it are up for grabs. In a nutshell, the more gamers get hooked, the more money they make.
What is "gaming disorder"?
In its International Classification of Diseases, WHO defines gaming disorder as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
Let’s break that down to a few simple questions.
What parents can do
If the answer to five or more of these questions is “yes” over a 12-month period, experts advise it may be time to seek professional help.
But what about cases where your child’s gaming is starting to concern you, but doesn’t reach the level of an actual “disorder”?
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