Anyone with children knows the allure of video gaming – fast and exciting, it can and does hold players’ attention for hours.
While some parents “don’t see the harm” and would rather see their kids indoors and in a safe environment than playing outside or hanging out with their friends, there are many downsides to spending excessive amounts of time staring at a screen.
In fact, computer gaming has long been linked to poor sleep hygiene, dehydration, obesity, and even anxiety and depression.
However, a new study from the Heart Center for Children in Australia has shown that playing action-packed video games can actually be extremely dangerous for people with heart disease, triggering life-threatening arrhythmias in children with no history of health problems.
The adrenaline rushes that come from the excitement of playing, especially in multiplayer war games, can be very problematic.
Study leader Claire Lawley says parents should look out for warning signs when their children are at play.
“Video games may pose a serious risk to some children with cardiac arrhythmia; They could be fatal in patients with predisposing but often previously unrecognized arrhythmic conditions,” she said.
“Children who suddenly lose consciousness while playing electronic games should be evaluated by a heart specialist as this could be the first sign of a serious heart problem.”
Ollwyn Moran, CEO and Founder of Cognikids, has two teenage sons, Matthew, 17, and Alex, 15, and has long been an advocate for controlling and limiting the time they spend playing video games.
“During lockdown, there were a number of very compelling reasons for the increase in screen use – for everyone in my house, not just the kids,” she says.
“Thankfully we are now back to pre-pandemic usage levels so my boys have little to no access to online gaming on school days. And on weekends, if they want an hour or two, they have to earn it.
“Housework must be done, homework and studies done, and outdoor activities must have taken place as well. The limit they have is two hours and I’m strict about that.
“I limit their gaming and screen time because I know the impact it has on the brain and body. Our children’s health, mentally and physically, is being significantly impacted and there is absolutely no denying it – with a mounting body of research telling us clearly the impact this is having.
“Of course there are benefits too and it may depend on what is consumed. But essentially, the research is clear: Our children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being are negatively impacted by unlimited screen time and gaming.”
Aoife Halpin agrees, saying she decided to limit the time her children spend playing after finding her daughter in tears in front of the screen.
“I’ve always been very aware that the kids (ages 13 and 10) don’t waste their days playing computer games, but as so often in life, our best intentions fall by the wayside when we’re busy and keeping the kids need to entertain,” she says.
“They have a range of different games in the playroom and my daughter recently got them Fourteen daysShe really put her heart into it.
“Then one day I called her for dinner and there was no answer so I went into the playroom and she was crying and crying while still staring at the screen. I thought something terrible had happened and then I realized she had messed up something in the game and was upset.”
The Dubliner decided that this kind of reaction to a computer game was not healthy and immediately gasped. Not only did she remove the game, but she also limited the time she allowed her children to play.
“It was a real eye opener,” she says. “While I was busy doing chores and getting dinner I didn’t pay attention to what the kids were doing and here was my daughter going almost hysterical over a silly game.
“She went mad when I took it from her and begged it back and promised she wouldn’t get upset again. But I told her that she wasn’t mature enough to play it and that it was a waste of time and energy.
“I have introduced some strict rules that there are no computer games at all during the week and one hour every day of the weekend.
“My son agreed as he prefers to play outside but she was angry at first and didn’t want to talk to me. I almost broke down and gave in because it was really quite uncomfortable being with her, but I stood my ground and within a week or two she had moved on and accepted it.”
Ollwyn Moran, who is also an expert on child development, says taking on the screen allowance is “our role as parents”.
“It’s not fair to expect kids to be able to monitor and control their own use – games are designed to make sure they stay and play,” she says. “Also, their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until they’re about 21, so our kids are literally not wired enough to withdraw from play.
“I think the way to do that (limit screen time) isn’t to make them go cold turkey, but to give them a 15 minute warning and gently pull them back into the real world.
“Then give them 10 minutes and finally five minutes. And we shouldn’t give them extra time.
“It might be a struggle the first few times, but it’s really worth the short-term pain.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/if-your-youngster-is-addicted-to-gaming-you-need-to-wrest-control-from-them-before-more-damage-is-done-42071120.html When your child is addicted to gambling, you need to take control of them before more damage is done