Effect of online gaming on children's mental health

7 ways to prevent online gaming effects on your child’s mental health

While you as a parent understand that fun is only the tip of the iceberg in the online world of video games, young, impressionable minds do not grasp these concepts quickly.
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It is a known fact, that too much of anything might just be the beginning of an addiction. A glaring example of that is online gaming. In India, a growing younger population, increased use of smartphones and tablets along with inexpensive internet data has seen a huge spike in online gaming. The Corona virus induced pandemic also led to more people playing online games since they were stuck inside their homes for long periods.

It can be said without debate, that online gaming is here to stay, and so is its entertainment value. And the same can be said for its negative effects, especially on teens. Playing video games online is an activity that very easily takes on the form of an addiction for young minds. Gaming addiction has actually been officially recognized as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation.

While playing generally defines fun, be it physical or online, we as parents have to pay close attention to what becomes an addiction or obsession for our young.

Soulveda enlists a number of ways to prevent online gaming from affecting your child’s mental health.

Keep the game zone in a common area

This is a simple and effective way of keeping your focus set on your child and their ways. Keep the gaming console in a common area of the house and simply make it a rule to sit in the living room area when playing online video games. This seemingly plain rule will ensure many things – your children will not have any issue with the rule since they are getting to play what they want. Most importantly, you will be as present a parent as you can be in the gaming world of your child. This will make them more careful as a gamer.

Nudge them towards better games

The gratification of moving level after another in an online video game gives young adults super gratification in a tech savvy era. That is why we need to introduce them to games that are a combination of education and entertainment. Such games stimulate the intellect without affecting the mental health of teenagers.

In fact, a few universities are tapping into the ‘gamification’ of concepts to teach better. With proper guidance of teachers and guardians, video games can be a way to improve life skills like imagination and decision making. So help choose the right games for your kids and fix strict schedules around them in order to make the experience count.

Teach them basic rules of online gaming

Have the gaming talk with your child – it means you tell them, in explicit details how people who they know as ‘gaming friends’ are nothing but strangers. These strangers do not always mean well and have an eye out for your real identity and credit card details. Many fraudulent cases take place while downloading games or unlocking higher levels of widely popular games played across the world and teenagers are most susceptible to such frauds.

While you as a parent understand that fun is only the tip of the iceberg in the online world of video games, young, impressionable minds do not grasp these concepts quickly. So teach your teen the importance of deciphering the real motives of such gaming friends and how to protect themselves from any adverse situation.

Play with them

This simple formula can work wonders. You can instruct your child to play his or her game according to a time table. And when they do so, you also play with them. Pay special attention to the characters in the game because animated characters do not necessarily mean they are harmless or funny. Some characters are obscene and use vulgar or coarse language.

A lot can be learnt when you sit next to your child and play video games for thirty minutes. Young adults too learn to be transparent in front of their parents through such bonding activities. And on a positive note, they might find it mildly cool that you are taking an interest in what they see as a ‘youthful’ activity they love.

Understand technology

The time when technology was just an upgrade is long gone. Today, technology is a necessity that has seeped into almost every aspect of our daily life. The pandemic was a glaring example of how technology saved millions of children from being deprived of education for such a long duration. From online classes to tuitions, children picked up a life skill and became tech savvy in the process.

Unfortunately, it also came with its disadvantages. Staying indoors meant that children learnt to traverse the murky lanes of the internet that includes playing certain online video games.

Lately, do you find your child easily flustered and angered after starting to play a particular video game? Do you see your teenager withdraw from social interactions and activities thereafter? If the answer to these questions is a yes, then chances are your kid’s mental health has begun paying dearly for the online game they are now addicted to.

While you cannot turn back time, there are steps you can take to gain some control. Learn to activate safety features and parental controls in your devices. Make the home PC the only device for online gaming so that you can monitor it all the time. Use firewalls and antivirus programmes on your gadgets that will alert you in case of any truant behaviour. Installing an internet gateway is a great way to control what content is being consumed by all the members in your family.

Get help

The issue is that it takes a while for parents to understand an unhealthy gaming addiction. As parents, it also becomes difficult to toe a hard line after allowing offsprings certain freedoms.

If you identify the symptoms of a strong gaming addiction in your child, it may be better to seek professional help. A therapist can help in firstly diagnosing, thereafter affirming hard rules and solutions for your teenager to get back on a healthy path. Thus, it is essential to ask help from a professional instead of struggling or making things worse.

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