I wrote about a study released in Pediatrics that linked video gaming to depression, anxiety and social phobia in children from third to eighth grade. You may already be worried about your child - you have good cause when two and three-year olds are playing with their parents I-Phones and other hand-held devices. Many kids access video games on HHD's. What can you do?
1. Take a hard look at your own relationship with your hand-held device (I'll use hand-held device as a generic term). Ask yourself a few questions: How do you feel when you misplace your HHD? How often do you feel irritated at being interrupted by real life, especially real life demands of your children? How long can you go without checking your HHD? How much has time on your HHD replaced real-time connection with friends and family? The answers to those questions will give a clue to how compulsive you are in relation to your electronic "friend"! You are the role model and your children are being taught by your behaviors.
2. Put the family on an HHD diet - of course the results of this will be blurred by family access to computers and the internet. Nonetheless, commit your family to four days without HHD's. Get together to talk about how it feels. Watch for increased irritability or jitteriness in all the family members. You'll be gathering data.
3. Once you have your data, talk with your partner or close friends (Not all of us have partners as we raise children.) Go as deep as you can into what you've found. (By the way, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with concerns and questions.)
4. If you believe that you, your children, your family are slipping into HHD addiction, educate yourself about its reality and how contemporary treatment people are dealing with it. It's a terribly complex and terrible problem, especially if you have teen-age kids. Teens without HHD's are teens without a social life. Parent of teens without HHD's are in the heart of a koan (A zen puzzle with no right answer). We have only begun to find ways to slowly, slowly undo the puzzle.
My next post will talk about dealing with HHD addiction. Here's a terrific source for you: http://www.healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=648899