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Addiction to computer games affecting teenagers PDF Print Email

Addiction to computer games affecting teenagers.

CGD, Computer Game Addiction, is the compulsive use of computer and game consoles that has our teenagers in its grip according to Dr Alex Yellowlees, Medical Director of The Priory Hospital and clinics.  He has identified not only the ‘at risk’ group of teenagers afflicted by this new addiction, but also the signs for parents to look out for that may indicate addiction.
CGD interferes with daily life and can lead to a teenager isolating themselves from family and friends and even to physical problems such as sleep deprivation, poor appetite, head/neck aches and hand problems. Other signs to watch for are spending increased hours on game playing (i.e. 6 – 8 hours daily); not socialising with friends or family in favour of playing games; decreased performance at school; lying about time spent playing games, and irritability when denied access to play games. Those in the ‘at risk’ group include: shy, socially avoidant and socially anxious teenagers; those who may be depressed, and those who may have family problems or other school or bullying issues to escape from. Teenagers who may be bottling up a lot of anger will also engage in aggressive video games. While Facebook, and other social networking sites, are now accepted as a normal form of teenage interaction, computer games isolate teenagers while giving them a sense of power and mastery over their 'world' and environment. This power and mastery over their otherwise powerless lives, becomes the place of escape from problems and their lack of self esteem.
Dr Yellowlees encourages parents to educate themselves about computer games and the internet; opening up a dialogue with their teenagers about gaming and even joining in with them; keeping a constant awareness of the time spent on the PC and having the console in a more public space in the home. Parents also need to be proactive in setting limits on the total time spent on the PC, encourage involvement in other activities which will increase the teenager’s sense of power and mastery over their world –e.g. sports, clubs, even gaming centres involving other teenagers and socialising opportunities. One of the biggest ways for parents to help is to remain open to listening to their teenagers no matter what – being non-judgmental and loving while enforcing boundaries and limits.