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When to take your gamer kid to a doctor

When to take your gamer kid to a doctor

Often, parents are unaware of the dangers of smart gadgets and the so-called 'technological marvels'.


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sat 21 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Sep 2019, 10:41 PM

In this digital world, it's almost impossible to completely stop kids from gaming - but how do you know when your child has become a gaming addict who needs medical help?
When playing video games turns into an uncontrollable habit that impairs one's personal, family, academic, or social life, it raises a red flag, and a professional  must be consulted.
The World Health Organisation has termed this behaviour 'gaming disorder', which is now included as a diagnosis in the latest International Classification of Diseases.
Dr Mandar V. Bichu, head of Right Parenting and specialist paediatrician at Zulekha Hospital, said: "Excessive gaming behaviour has been observed to adversely affect the individual's life and health in multiple ways.
"There are many cases where the individual may need the medical and psychological treatment to overcome this overwhelming habit."
Often, parents are unaware of the dangers of smart gadgets and the so-called 'technological marvels', so they end up introducing them to children at a very young age without supervision.
In some instances, parents seek medical help after observing that their kids started to get violent or  aggressive when their games are interrupted or when their gadgets are taken away, Dr Bichu shared.
Other complaints such as sleep disturbances, insomnia, eye strain, ringing in the ears, muscle-bone-joint pains, poor concentration, avoiding socialisation, and neglecting studies have also been noted.
"These cases used to involve adolescents but, nowadays, this digital fixation is beginning at a very young age, sometimes even in infants and toddlers," the doctor said.
Mood enhancer
People often turn to gaming to achieve and feel a certain 'level of comfort', according to another expert.
Maja Vurnek Zivkovic, faculty member for psychology and student counsellor at Murdoch University Dubai, said: "Most people will turn to gaming in order to escape difficult life situations or to enhance their mood.
"However, long-term gaming addiction can lead to sleep disturbance; a poor diet consisting of fast food and energy drinks full of caffeine and sugar; loss of friends and family; and gradual changes in behaviour."
Researchers have found that some people do develop severe and sometimes uncontrollable aggression as a complication of video game addiction.
This is especially true when a concerned family member or friend tries to convince the gamer to stop playing. This may cause agitation, anxiety, aggression, and other emotional changes.
Dr Mohamed Gamal Elkashef, neurologist at Prime Hospital, agreed that "the psychological effects of this addiction are just as harmful as the physical effects".
Experts said timely intervention can help avert severe addiction.
Among the recommended treatments are cognitive behavioural therapy; a 12-step rehabilitation programme; and in-patient clinics.
Considering the fact that computers and screens have become part of everyday lives, complete withdrawal is rarely realistic. Moderation and putting restrictions in place should be the target.
Seek help if your child...
>Thinks about gaming all the time
>Feels bad when he/she can't play
>Heavily relies on gaming just to feel good
>Cannot stop playing
>Does not want to do other things he/she used to like
>Is starting to have problems in school because of spending too much time on games
>Skips daily tasks like taking a shower and eating meals

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