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You, Your Child, and Video Game Addiction: How to Foster Communication

You, Your Child, and Video Game Addiction: How to Foster Communication

Real Life and the Gaming World

The gaming world and the real world can seem at odds at times, especially when the potential for classifying video game behavior as addictive is on the table. On one side we have gamers who may either be playing without thought of potential consequence, gamers who are questioning the time they spend gaming, or gamers who remain in stark denial over the mounting evidence that technology could, in fact, be negatively impacting their quality of life; on the other side are worried friends and loved ones. For parents who eventually need to send their child to treatment over the deteriorating effects of video game use, the sentiment across all families are universal: ‘I wish I had done something sooner.’

Check the List

But how do I know if my child has a problem, and what are the early signs of video game addiction? It’s common that parents will not approach their child for fear of their children perceiving them as overreacting, or because they simply don’t know what to say. In the following, I will lay out the criteria that the APA is proposing for an individual to receive a diagnosis of Internet Gaming Addiction. Of the following nine criteria, five are needed for a diagnosis.

Preoccupation: Spends time thinking about video games, even when not playing them. Does your child feel like they are not mentally present during family or other activities?

Withdrawal: Feeling restless or irritable when not able to play games. Does your child become confrontational, or is there a strong change in mood when you try to limit your child’s technology use?

Tolerance: Needing to play more games in order to get the same excitement as before. Have you noticed that, over time, your child has become more and more preoccupied with their technology use?

Inability to Reduce: Attempting to play less but finding that they are not able to. Is your child finding that their want to play in transitioning into a need for gaming?

Giving up Other Activities: Is there a lack of pleasure in other activities that your child previously found enjoyable?

Continuing Despite Problems: Is your child aware of the negative impact of gaming on their life but chooses to continue gaming anyway

Deceive: Is your child hiding or lying about how much they are gaming?

Escape Mood: Is gaming becoming a way that your child handles stress or anxiety? Are they using gaming as a way to avoid or numb their feelings?

Risk: Is your child’s gaming creating risk of losing or harming significant relationships, employment, or performance in school?

Talking it Out

Communicating with your child or loved one about their gaming in an open, consistent, non-shaming way is a good way to foster honesty and trust. This can be hard sometimes, delineating ‘you’re breaking my heart with your gaming (more shame-based)’ from ‘it breaks my heart thinking that we haven’t been able to talk like we used to (more assertive-based),’ but more communication is better than none! Be honest with yourself—you deserve to feel however you are feeling in this moment. The best that you can do is share how you are feeling, specifically what your needs are. Open a dialogue with your loved one: how can we work together to both get our needs met? Communication can bridge the gap between parents and loved ones. It’s not about you vs. me; it’s about us vs. gaming, unhealthiness, and all factors that challenge our connection. To this end, we are all on the same side.

Brief Internet Game Screen for Parents (BIGS-P)

Understanding your son or daughter’s gaming behavior this past year

Instructions: This screen assists people in making decisions about the way their son or daughter engages in gaming activities. Please answer these questions based on your son or daughter’s engagement with gaming over the past year (i.e., 12 months).
For clarification, “games or gaming” are catchall terms which include online (i.e., the Internet) and offline engagement with games (e.g., video games, console games, handheld games, cellular phone or tablet games, computer games) or use of any other device capable of playing games, and includes the viewing of current or past games being played or broadcast (e.g., eSports).

*This tool is adapted from the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) developed to measure gambling behavior, and the DSM-5 criteria for IGD. Developed by Cosette Rae, MSW, LICSW, ACSW

Is more information really better?

Is more information really better?

by Erica Demeester, Rec Therapist

Your Inner Voice in the Digital Information Age

We live in a world where we have so much information at our fingertips that having to wait for something can seem unbearable. Not being able to immediately look up a question can seem irritating. There is a never-ending access to pictures, post, articles and any information imaginable; all we need to do is scroll down for more.

Is More Info Really Better?

At times it seems more is better, the more we know the smarter we become, the smarter we become the more we achieve. But what if that was not entirely true? If we are so concerned with what is going on around us then we may be missing what is truly going on inside of us.

Sit With Yourself

We all have the ability to listen to ourselves and our inner voice. It takes time, patience, practice and space. My work at reSTART has reaffirmed my belief that taking time to sit and listen to our inner voice without distraction is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves. This is especially true in a day where there are so many distractions. Our inner voice can lead us to paths of creativity, encouragement and direction.

Finding the Magic

Life is meant to have challenges and if we spend our time “numbing” negative feelings with technology or simply consumed with the mass of information available;we miss out on the magic. Personal growth takes patience and is uncomfortable. The magic is when we chose to grow from our challenges and take time to listen to our inner voice. If we do that,we will be able to achieve more than we ever thought was possible.

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