17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
Monday, May 19, 2008
CRIB NOTES: Playstation Nation--protect your child from video game addiction
This book is meant to inform parents about video game addiction. The authors tell their own story of their sons who were on the road to addiction and how they pulled them out.
*According to their research, playing video games increases the activity of dopamine in the brain--so it is actually physiologically like a drug. "Dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain, controlling movement, attention, and learning. It is also associated with reinforcement--triggered by events that produce pleasure--and with the reinforcing effects of addictive drugs like cocaine and amphetamines."
*Get this: A study proved that children allowed to play gameboy prior to surgery were more relaxed than those on tranquilizers or had held a parent's hand to keep them calm. They were happy--forgot where they were. Also, seriously ill children in a hospital who played Nintendo required HALF the pain meds as those who didn't. TV had no effect on meds. "Good news? Possibly. But if these 'comfort' games replace the use of drugs when children undergo surgery, what does that suggest about their influence on a child's brain and emotions the rest of the time? Do we really want our children 'sedated' on a daily basis?" Wow. That was the kicker for me.
*It is also hard to walk away from video games because their structures are built to keep players hooked: Beating the game (beating the computer, also isolating as kids play alone for long periods), competition (against friends, adds complexity and many possibilities), mastery (the more you play the better you get, so keep playing...), exploration (the mystery of finding secret and hidden levels), beating the high score (even one's own score), story-driven role play (finding out how the story ends by winning), relationships (Internet games where players rely on each other, also false/anonymous relationships).
*Game ratings: Video games all have ratings like movies, tv, and music. However, when the National Institute on Media and the family checked on them, they were given a few grades:
ratings education to the public C-
ratings accuracy B-
retailers enforcement of policies B-
in 2005 they received, in the same order a C+, F, and D-
So, if your kids play, you can't rely on anyone but you to determine which games are appropriate--be there when they play.
*Parents--try to avoid these mistakes: 1) Starting your kids into games young. Children should develop "natural" play, not "virtual" play at such young ages. They will become accustomed to video play if they start young. 2) Easy access--owning a system, putting it in a bedroom or isolating place. 3) Using your system as a reward. Chores, homework, etc. become necessary evils to get to more game time. 4) One more level--kids always want to play one more level. Know if you can deal with the begging every time. 5) Ignoring your gut. Instead, trust your instincts and intervene or do what you think is right, not what is necessarily easy.
*In this book you'll find a lot of helpful info: Names of particularly disturbing/addictive video and internet games, lists of symptoms of those addicted, ratings explanations, suggestions to help someone addicted, list of addictive game elements, lists of many various alternative activities to get kids interested in to pull them out of the gaming world (for all ages). Also, they have suggestions of how to have a gaming system in your home and not let it get abused. My favorite suggestion was to treat it like a board game--keep it in a box and get it down occasionally to play with friends and/or family. Then put it back up.
*I have not described them here, but much of the book contains really sad stories of lives just wasted. College students failing, marital relationships suffering, and other tragedies. Aside from any research and analysis, those stories alone are probably enough to keep people very aware of video game trouble.
*Although they don't come out and say "don't ever buy a gaming system" it's clear that that is the surest way to keep children from game addiction. They describe the pain of limiting game time from children who push and push for more time almost unbearable, and definitely harder than not owning a system.
*The authors have a website for further info and support.
I've never wanted a gaming system. I don't see any real value in them. This book just cemented that decision and will give me backbone when my kids start begging sometime in the next 3-5 years. Also, it has helped me understand how to deal with computer games since, well, we will always own a computer.
And by the way, they do not suggest that children's educational games are in any way addictive.
What are your experiences with video games? Do you see them abused? What are your impressions of this perspective on video game addiction?
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