WHO says gaming is a mental disorder

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Parents should gently wean kids away from gadgets, devices and even television. Clinging onto devices for long hours without breaks is a destructive habit children should not cultivate.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently classified gaming addiction as a mental disorder.

“A pattern of persistent or recurring gaming behaviour that becomes so extensive that it takes precedence over other life interests,” it explains.

Everyone knows the harmful effects of excessive use of mobile and video games and even watching TV among children. WHO says video gaming addiction is as dangerous as drug addiction. It’s time parents step in and gently wean children away from their devices.

A concerned parent, Tejaswi Uthappa, shares her dilemma on her blog tejuthy.blogspot.com reproduced below.

Two media reports, a school advisory and a massive hoarding for an online coaching course got me thinking on my way back after dropping my child to school.

My son is high on the success of a social media campaign which he believes has given him purpose in life. He is just 16, runs his own not-for-profit website and does a lot of his homework on his laptop. But he is a kid at the same time and indulges the extra hour wandering in cyber space.

And when on a high, he will not accept that his sudden bouts of unexplained irritability, fatigue or even a dull throb in his head could be related to prolonged screen-time. He will not concede, without an argument, that football on the field need not be followed up with team-trading on the games’ console. Or that keeping messaging apps open while completing worksheets will only make him retain less. Until, he is banned from all screens for a week and the nastiness slowly gives in to his trademark twinkling eyes and witty humour… and the realisation that screen-time needs to be planned better.

While I agree that today’s tech-savvy generation cannot be administered a blanket ban on screens, pop up quiz-time at home gives me a lot to wonder about which direction our kids are headed. Take this one for instance:

Me: You are marooned on an island. Name three life-essentials that you think of first.
My Teen (spontaneously): Phone, tower, power.
Me (eyes roll): Try again.
My Teen: And! Kindle!

This, from a generally balanced kid who shreds rock guitar, reads a lot of paperbacks and brings home muddy football gear as well. I glare at the light of my life grinning mischievously at me and seriously consider family digital detox, when my phone pings with an update from his school. It is an advisory to contain students’ screen time with a strict warning against social media group memberships. Reason – severe physiological and mental health risks.

I showed him the warning and waited for an explosion. There was utter silence except for a barrage of incoming pings. The head bent-over variety of furious typing that followed is the stuff psychologists and orthopaedicians build their fortunes on.

Me: You ok?
Teen: Leave me alone!
Me: Gladly…
My Teen: Seriously, ma! This is not fair! Have you mothers complained to the school or something?!

Angry bird storms out.

Now, I ask you, is this the only kind of uncontested, and undue credit we parents can expect?

In giving our children the obsessive and all-consuming license to connect with worlds unknown and effectively disconnect with their immediate reality, we seem to have fed a monster beyond our control. What exactly are we doing wrong here?

Do write in.

In response to the blogger, Gopalakrishna BS, a parent wrote: “Parenting has certainly become tougher and you don’t get a second chance to play it differently. Setting an example, being open and ensuring more family time, I feel, can only help.”

Another parent, Vaishali Y agrees and her paraphrased comment:
“I can totally relate to all this with my 14-year-old and we are going through this exact phase. My son is glued to his iPad or phone or laptop for hours. I make sure we spend more quality time and restrict the number of hours he spends with gadgets. I myself stay away from these devices as much as possible,” she says, hoping like other parents to set a good example.

North Bangalorepost hopes that parents, their wards and educators learn to deal with the WHO warning on the ‘Elephant in the Room’ as Vaishali puts.

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