Millions of people in this country spend their time playing computer games. Many children and young people in particular. For most, it’s just a hobby that is fun like diablo 2 runes that you can play on the YesGamers site. But some of them can not let go of the online world. Computer game addiction has recently even been recognized as a disease recognized by the WHO. But when can you speak of an addiction? Due to the corona crisis, our children have to spend more time at home. Under certain circumstances, online game consumption may also increase.
Securing Your Kids Online
Almost three in four teenagers play online games regularly
Almost three-quarters of all young people between the ages of 12 and 17 regularly play on the computer. Almost 90 percent of boys and a good 50 percent of girls. This was the result of a study published last year by the German Center for Addiction Issues, for which around 1,000 young people were interviewed. Games like Fortnite, FIFA or Minecraft are therefore very popular with the boys.
Most of them don’t need to be worried about. But at least 15.4 percent of minors are at least so-called risk gamers according to the study. Around 465,000 adolescents – almost 80 percent of them are male – display risky or pathological behavior in the sense of gaming addiction. They sit in front of the screen for many hours every day, are absent from school more often, have more emotional problems and spend significantly more money than peers who spend less time playing computer games. According to the study, 3.3 percent of young people even meet the criteria of real behavioral addiction.
No real data on the online behavior of children
The WHO has now also registered the problem and last year recognized computer game addiction under the English term Gaming Disorder as an independent disease and included it in its worldwide catalog of clinical pictures ICD (International Classification of Diseases). Experts hope that this will make it easier to diagnose and treat computer game addiction. According to the criteria of the WHO – according to preliminary data – around 3 percent of all computer gamers are considered dependent. The worldwide numbers seem to be similar to those in this country.
It can be assumed that around 560,000 people in the country are online dependent. It is still unclear how many children are already affected by the problem. In view of the increasing game consumption by many kindergarten and elementary school children, their parents are becoming more and more concerned.
In a real addiction, negative consequences are ignored
To speak of a real addiction, however, a number of factors have to come together. “Loss of control is a central symptom,” says Professor Christian Montag, who heads the Molecular Psychology Department at Ulm University and has been dealing with the topics of computer game addiction and smartphone addiction for many years. “Playing is becoming more and more important and other things are being neglected,” says Montag. “Even if there is a threat of negative consequences, the game will continue.”
In addition, gaming must be so excessive that it leads to significant impairments in professional or private life, for example losing an apprenticeship position or a relationship breaks down. For a reliable diagnosis, the behavior described should also persist for at least twelve months because there should be a line to distinguish healthy gaming behavior which is unnecessarily classified as pathological according to experts.
Parents should review their children’s online behavior critically
“Especially during inpatient therapy, when the addict stays in the clinic for a certain period of time, after initial difficulties it is usually not too difficult to do without the beloved game or smartphone,” says the Ulm scientist Montag. “The much greater challenge is to remain steadfast in the subsequent everyday life.” The goal is not to completely abstain from the computer or mobile phone, but simply to use the devices differently – especially when there is a real addiction, to renounce that However, it could contain a previous favorite game or a certain app. According to Wildt, filter software, as it is primarily intended for children, can be helpful.
Montag advises anyone who has barely been able to put their smartphone down in their hands before they no longer carry the device in their jacket pocket, but rather stowed it away in a backpack, for example. The automated reaching for the cell phone is made more difficult. “We all have to learn again to create more mobile phone-free zones,” says Montag. At the dining table, for example, the device should generally be taboo. Such measures should also and especially apply to concerned parents, the expert emphasizes. “Children learn on the model,” he says. “That’s why parents should also critically review their own behavior again and again.” In addition, no child should be given their own smartphone or computer before the age of 12, recommends Montag.