Do you know why your children are gaming so much?

Give them only the gadgets they need for functional purposes and set boundaries for their use

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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Published: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 6:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 6:53 PM

Dear Parents,

Much as we would like to camouflage it, the truth remains that gadget addictions are a part of our adult lives too. It is only when we can desist from our own cravings that we can begin to devise means to correct our young ones. And we must do more than scratch the surface to know what lies beneath these incorrigible habits we have developed.

Presuming that we have ditched our own fixations with gadgets, and we are all set to help them kick theirs, let us try to dissect the anatomy of our children’s obsession with these new-age contraptions. Knowing what works behind this scourge will help us understand them, their behaviour and thus pave the way for feasible solutions.

How and why do our children fall prey to the lure of the gadgets when they can choose from umpteen other diversions and amusements? For starters, it is the availability and accessibility of phones, tablets, computers and a plethora of platforms that makes them take to it easier than a fish takes to water. Of course, it is not easy to take everything away from them, especially the computers, but they can be taken away from the excesses. Give them only the gadgets they need for functional purposes and set boundaries for their use. The day you hand them a device, even if it is a gaming console as a present, get them to sign in the rule book.

Over-indulgence in a particular activity to the exclusion of others may also be a sign of escapism from an emotional difficulty they may be silently going through. Although, the condition may surface in other forms too, it can often remain undetected unless we confront and address it with understanding. Talking to them on a regular basis about their real-life problems, academic pressures, stress in their friendships or any other unspoken challenge that they may be facing is an imperative. As parents, it is not difficult for us to detect anomalies in their behaviour and at the slightest hint, we must get down to having purposeful conversations that will take them into confidence.

Some children are fixated by gaming, and others to allied gratification that comes with gadget use. One reason for gaming to become an indispensable part of their lives is the sense of accomplishment and the virtual rewards it brings as they level-up or win. This thrill of victory acts as a positive reinforcement to them, and it might be something that they do not enjoy in their academics. It is a snappy and stimulating way to build self-esteem when their chips are down elsewhere. Catch the trend early and explain to them what amounts to true achievement in life.

For all you know, your child may be struggling with his friendships and may have become introverted in school, unbeknownst to you. Gaming provides them an opportunity to forge new friendships online, which also induces a sense of belonginess. The fact that these friendships often remain incognito helps them create an identity that fulfils their need to have a compelling self-image in a space where they are not fully exposed. It is a world they create where their achievements make them feel important, admired and accepted. Weaning them away from their virtual community will require you to give them brownie points at home for the small good things they do. Recognising them and celebrating their small victories in real life can bring them back into the fold.

These are not all; we will keep our parleys going. But these are places you can get started in your attempt to release your child from the vice-like grip of the gaming world. Until next time, happy parenting.

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