Dr Gerry McCarney discusses Gaming Addiction on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.
Dr Gerry McCartney, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Chair of the College Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, discussed Gaming Addiction and the warning signs with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, 25.02.2019.
Irish psychiatrists are now treating gaming addiction as a disorder after the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised this condition last year. Dr McCarney highlighted some of the signs and symptoms of gaming addiction in youths today.
The first point that may be noticed is that the time factor increases. Once children begin spending more and more time gaming, parents may notice that they will become preoccupied with a game.
Even when they are not playing they are thinking about it or talking about it incessantly as if you have an interest as well.
Beyond this, the warning signs become greater. You may notice a withdrawal from communicating with the family, rejecting a request to go outside and do things. In some cases children may choose not to come down for meals. You may see that they are eating at their desks in order to continue playing their games. At this point parents are encouraged to start a conversation about this behaviour.
When asked at what stage does this become an addiction, Dr McCarney stated “to put it simply, this becomes an issue when you can see harm happening because of a behaviour and the behaviour continues even though the harm is obvious.”
Dr McCarney explained that if a person is gaming to the excess, beginning to isolate themselves from friends, not communicating, not eating, not going to school or work, or losing a job or losing relationships and still continues to spend hours and hours on a game, that is an addiction.
Dr McCarney has seen several cases where children will alter their sleep patterns to enable them to play with others in different time zones.
Some people have difficulty accepting they have a problem. They don’t feel that they have an illness or that they need to change. This change can’t be forced. You have to educate somebody on their illness and the unhealthy behaviours.
Gaming addiction is similar to an addiction to gambling. The guidelines for parents monitoring their children’s gaming habits is to try and restrict gaming to an hour a day. Keeping a balance is important and keeping supervision of online content.