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The Gaming Monster: Is it Hiding Under Your Child's Bed?
by Alyson Schafer

It's 2:00 am and you see light coming from under your son's bedroom door. You go in to check and find he is still up playing his favorite video game. Has he been playing all night? Is he an addict? You find you are filled with panic, as you just know this can't be good.

Understanding the Problem
People do get addicted to gaming; it's a realistic concern. It's as serious a problem as any other addiction. While it may not have the specific harmful bodily effects of say, being addicted to a substance, additive behaviors like gaming and gambling still ruin lives.

All addictions work on the same principles, and their warning signs and symptoms share the same quality. Addictions are a method of escaping or finding a false "buzz", "joy" or "pleasure" in a life that is otherwise devoid of those things. This is especially true for interactive fantasy games where players interact with others online. This can give a person a sense of status they can't find in reality.

The addict needs more and more and more to get the same effect over time. One hour of playing can build up to almost 24-7. The addiction interferes with functioning including loss of sleep, skipping school to play, losing friends and relationships over the time spent on gaming.

The addict can become irritated and upset if they aren't allowed to practice and to play. The addict dwells on thoughts of his addiction even when no engaged in it.

Solutions

Discuss your concerns. Share with your child what you're noticing.

"You've been missing school."
"You haven't been our with your friend Josh in over a month."
"You aren't getting enough sleep at night."
"You got fired from your part time job for not showing up."

Give options. Suggest your child cap their playing time. Together, see if you can come up with a s set amount of time for the game and see if your child can downgrade playing time without getting upset about it.

If they can't, share that this also gives you reason to be concerned that the gaming may have evolved from passion to addiction.

Encourage your child to research. The addict is often in denial about the problem, especially with gaming because it seems so innocent, like play. How is it harming anyone? However, their playing is costing them. Ask your child to do some of his own research so they can see its not just your opinion, but rather a verifiable psychological problem that does actually exist for many people.

Your concerns come from a place of love and caring, no anger and lack of understanding.

Seek treatment. Treatment may ultimately involve enrollment in a professional program. Hopefully, if you take the steps about to address the addiction, the child is more likely to hear your concerns. If you are aggressive or oppositional in your approach, he is more likely to dismiss your concerns and refuse your influence or help.

Alyson Shafer

About the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada's leading parenting experts. Alyson is the best selling author of 3 parenting books; "Breaking The Good Mom Myth" and "Honey, I Wrecked The Kids" and her latest, "Ain't MIsbehavin". Alyson is the media's go-to person and speaks regularly on parenting issues involving kids of all ages. For tips on discipline, bullying, sibling rivalry and other daily parenting issues visit www.alysonschafer.com.

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