Are Your Teens Playing Games with Their Lives?
We all know that gambling, and now internet gaming has been around for a long while.
What we didn’t know was about to happen with the internet and tech offerings and expansion that began in the late 80′ and early 90’s –that gaming and gambling options would be so accessible and continue to grow at a rapid pace as it has. No person better besides myself knows this than my dear friend and The Addiction Expert of Rev Kev’s Recovery World and now the new amazing coach, teacher, and trainer behind the new “The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online” .
So, I welcome and am honored to have Kevin Coughlin back to share some interesting facts about gaming and why parents need to be very privy to the time your kids are spending on their computers and what are they DOING on the internet …
Take it away Rev. Kev! ~ Advocate Catherine Lyon
“A good coach asks great questions to help you remove the obstacles in your mind and to get you back on track in life.” – Farshad Asl
Recently, The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to the International Classification of Diseases. This newly identified gaming disorder causes “impaired control over gaming,” according to The World Health Organization. The decision to include internet gaming as a mental health disorder has not come without controversy; professionals from the American Psychiatric Association and other professional’s in the industry have made clear that they believe that internet gaming disorder is a condition that needs further study. Some mental health professionals don’t agree with the “gaming disorder” diagnosis, they think the label is premature. Many clinicians voiced that they believe that young people are actually using video gaming as a coping mechanism for anxiety and depression, which are on the rise in teens, according to the latest national research.
This new process of addiction should not be determined based on a short period of behavior. The World Health Organization stated that a diagnosis of having a gaming disorder should be determined based on behavior over a period of at least twelve months. If an individual’s personal life, social life, family life, work environment, or if they’re a student, their school environment is impaired by excessive internet gaming, these should be considered warning signs of addiction. Comparable with other addictions, despite negative consequences, there is a loss of control and escalation.
Experts believe that the causes of gaming disorder are quite rare and that only approximately three-percent of gamers may suffer from this addiction. There is hope for the three percent; however, more help is needed. A former gaming disorder addict, Cam Adair, was quoted as saying, “First just more prevention, there needs to be more awareness in schools. Parents need to be educated, there is a need for better resources and a need for more professionally trained interventionists, recovery coaches and support services available.”
Many parents have referred to internet gaming as “digital heroin!” Don is twenty-five-years-old, who just had his second child thirteen months ago, he lives with his girlfriend and the children at her parent’s house. Don works part-time and spends more than ten hours per day playing video games online. He spends every dollar he makes buying online video games and counts on State assistance to feed his children.
Some nights, Don doesn’t even sleep, he plays video games all night and then goes straight to work in the morning. He doesn’t spend any time with his children or his girlfriend. He doesn’t give his family any financial or emotional support. His girlfriend is on the verge of leaving Don and taking the children with her. His life is totally out of control because of online gaming addiction.
Dr. Vladimir Poznyak from The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which proposed the new diagnosis to The World Health Organization’s decision-making body, said, that there are three major diagnostic characteristics of gaming disorder: “One is that the gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery.
The second feature is impaired control of these behaviors, even when the negative consequences occur, this behavior continues or escalates. A third feature is that the condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning. The impact is real and may include disturbed sleep patterns, like diet problems, like a deficiency in the physical activity.”
The main features of gaming disorder are very similar to the diagnostic features of pathological gambling disorder and substance use and abuse disorders. Gaming disorder is a clinical condition and must only be diagnosed by professionals who are properly trained in this mental health disorder. The majority of treatment and interventions for gaming disorder are based on the methods and principals of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and other added sources of support.
Co-founder of Restart (One of the first US inpatient treatment programs for gaming disorder), Hilarie Cash was quoted as saying, “It’s time to recognize gaming disorder as a legitimate medical and mental health condition.”
Dr. Vladimir Poznyak (from The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse) was quoted as saying, “Whatever the therapy, it should be based on understanding the nature of the behavior and what can be done in order to improve the situation. Prevention interventions may also be needed.” A licensed psychologist, executive director at The Telos Project, Anthony Bean was quoted as saying,
“The ICD diagnosis is not “appropriately informed since most clinicians — and the mental health field as a whole — do not understand the gaming population. And even most clinicians would probably agree that they don’t understand the concept for video games because they’re not immersed in that world or experience.”
Bean recommends that parents and other loved ones concerned about a much-too-avid gamer, ask questions to become as informed as possible. What games are they playing? Why do they find them interesting? Bean is the author of a guidebook for clinicians wishing to work with gamers; however, he has made it clear that he is not on team Poznyak when it comes to the latest thinking on gaming disorder. I believe that Dr. Poznyak is right on target!
Witnessing Don’s gaming addiction firsthand, there is no doubt in my mind that online gaming becomes a disorder when despite negative consequences, there is a loss of control and escalation and the person’s choices are even affecting his family in a negative way because of online gaming.
Anything that is out of balance in a person’s life that has negative consequences that are ignored is a potential problem. I think the writing was on the wall a long time ago when it came to gaming addiction. I’m surprised it wasn’t diagnosed sooner!
Some of the warning signs that parents can look for to help determine if there is a problem with gaming and their teen:
Long hours of playing video games.
On the computer or other online devices.
Poor personal hygiene.
Lack of self-care.
Not sleeping, playing video games all night.
Poor grades in school or skipping school.
Lack of interest in everything except video gaming.
Isolation and spending much time in their room.
Irritability and anger problems when not playing video games.
Compulsively buying video games and add-ons.
Not eating regular meals at regular times.
Unhealthy diet, impulsivity, and irresponsibility.
Life out of balance, obsessed with video gaming.
Depression, anxiety, or mood swings.
Remember, if you think that your loved one is suffering from a gaming disorder, this should be diagnosed and treated by professional clinicians. You should also remember that approximately three-percent of gamers suffer from this addiction and that behavior should be considered over at least a twelve-month period.
The last thing that anyone wants is a parent thinking that their teen has a problem because they played video games one afternoon for several hours and skipped lunch. It’s important to look at the big picture and not to ignore the facts. Should you have any questions, consult a professional who works in this field. Let’s all be informed and aware!
Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D.
Visit: “The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online” .
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