Parents often approach me with the problem, “My child is addicted to gaming, how do I make it stop?”
First off, what is gaming addiction? Is it a real thing? In 2018, Gaming disorder whether online or offline was included in the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a clinically significant syndrome. How the disease is defined is, “when the pattern of gaming behaviour is of such a nature and intensity that it results in marked distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning.”
“So, it’s a real thing, does my kid suffer from it?” You should be concerned about your child when their schoolwork is suffering, when they constantly think about the game ‘outside’ the game, when they feel bad when they cannot play, when they need to play to “feel good”, when they are unable to put the controller or device away, or they stop wanting to do any alternative activities, particularly ones they used to enjoy.
As a concerned parent, what do you do?
- Set a time limit on devices. Do not let them hop from device to device like Xbox to phone and then back to the computer. Set a total time limit across devices and stick to it.
- Keep phones and video game systems out of their rooms. Especially at night, do not let your children have their devices 24/7. With your internet provider, arrange a blackout period for your WIFI with only adults having access to the passcode.
- Exercise Daily. Each day, make sure there is some time to get physically active. If only to break up the screen time.
- Have Family Dinner. I know we’re all busy but as much as possible sit down together at the table and eat. The television should not be on. Nor the devices brought along even if they are in pockets. Parents you must abide by these rules too.
- Pray. Pray for your children to beat their addiction. Perhaps this kind of addiction can only be defeated by prayer (Mark 9:29).
Syd Moore, College Pastor