Kids, Gaming and Drugs!

What?! Gaming leads to drug use?

Nope, I wouldn’t think so, just wanting your attention.

Seriously though, let’s have a quick chat about gaming and addiction. There has been much publicity about how addictive some games can be, most recently the up-roar has been about the game Fortnite.

I put this in the category of trends adults love to hate. Every generation of young people has them. Imagine the horror for the poor parents in the 60’s when Elvis was all hip shaking rock and roll. The ‘gangsta’ rap songs of my youth from groups like NWA. The selfie generation! Fidget spinners! Pokemon Go! The list goes on and on and on. A new month, a new trend.

This may definitely rub some of you the wrong way, but I’m not sure that there are too many things that children should actually be able to form an addiction to if we as parents are actively parenting.

According to Psychology Today the definition of addiction is: Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behaviour for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behaviour despite detrimental consequences.

So basically, if we allow our children to do something over and over even when it causes harm, then we as parents aren’t really doing our job. I know, some of you are like, “I tried to stop my children, but they just found another way.” My answer to that is simple. Of course they did. Banning things has never, in the history of parenting, been a good way to deal with something. Education is key!

So how does education happen? First, as the coach, teacher or parent, you need to know something about the topic. You need to get educated. Get online, experience the games. There are some that are much more damaging than others. Fortnite, as an example, is the least graphic shooter game I’ve played (yes! I play Fortnite). There is no blood, no severing of arms, no screams. You simply disappear and your stored weapons fall down. Call of Duty, on the other hand, is pretty realistic blood, gore, blown apart bodies etc… There are ‘R’ ratings in place on games for a reason. Letting your seven-year old play R16 games is a silly idea. They haven’t developed the cognisance to understand this violence is not normal. When my son was finally old enough to play some of the more graphic games, I sat with him and watched. We talked about what I disliked and how he saw what was going on. We talked about the history of some of the war games he likes to play. There is much that can be gained from gaming, but there has to be parental involvement. Don’t leave it up to what you read (ha ha – ironic, I know), play, watch, get involved and make sure that your child understands your values and how their game play may affect their thoughts.

One final note. Hypocrisy among parents is very noticeable to young people. If you are complaining about the amount of time they spend gaming, but then spend masses of time in one activity yourself, then that’s hardly fair is it? We are well past the generation of do as I say, not as I do. We want a generation of young people who question the past and push for a better future. Learning this skill starts at home, so my final tip is… Parents are the greatest role model, be sure you are being congruent in your actions.