As most of you know I have serious concerns about the amount of time children spend on screen time. Check out this article in today’s paper .
Video games turned my son into raging school-hating monster
The Sunday Telegraph
July 06, 2014 12:00AM
A UK study has revealed gadgets could be to blame for a 70 percent jump in speech problems
HER child is like a drug addict — at age 12. His drug of choice is computer games.
The once brilliant student with a perfect academic record has even refused to go to school for the past month. Attempts to limit time on the computer have led to violent outbursts, even the police have been called on several occasions and now this Sydney mother wants to warn others of the hell that has come from giving in to her child’s demands for screen time.
What parents can do
- Treat TV like a prescription medicine. Allow it at the right time and in the correct dose.
- Let your child grow up knowing that screen time is not a right, but a privilege to be earned.
- No TV watching during meal times: There is now good research evidence that children from families where TV is watched during meals do less well at school.
- Establish viewing rules: These are likely to be different for different members of the family, depending on age.
“It feels like a drug, it’s like living with someone who is a drug addict,” said Mrs S, who has asked not to be named to protect her child.
“It is absolutely an addiction, he would stay on continuously if we let him and would not get off to eat or sleep. We’ve had a hell of a time and I want to alert parents to how bad it can get, the impact on our family has been huge. The other day he even sneaked my iPod and sat on the roof to play.”
The mother-of-two said it started at age eight when her son started gaming on a console and the computer.
Constant nagging, so familiar to many parents, would wear her down, but giving in for the peace of the family was a massive mistake, she said.
“He wanted to stay on for long periods and if he wasn’t he was nagging to get back on,” she said. “In recent times he has turned to sabotaging family outings because he doesn’t want to leave the house, he wants to be on the games, so he will make it difficult for the family to function.”
DO YOUR KIDS PLAY VIDEO GAMES TOO MUCH? TELL US BELOW
The boy who was once the dux of his primary school now refuses to go to school and his mental health has spiralled into a depressive state. “Gaming addiction has turned him into a monster; if we force him off he gets violent,” his mother said.
“We’ve had to call the police. He’s been cold turkey for the last week and on Sunday, when we gave him his gaming restrictions for this week, he said he couldn’t live with that and threatened to commit suicide.”
Her son had to be hospitalised as a result.
More time staring into a screen, whether it be small or large, is having an impact on the amount of time kids are getting sleep
Eminent pediatrician and former head of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Professor Kim Oates, said parents should view children’s screen time, both TV and computer, in the same way as prescription medicine and limit the dose.
“The right dose at the right time of appropriate screen time, it can be good,” he said.
“But if it’s the wrong medicine, if the dose is too high, or if it is taken too often, its effects can be serious.”
An Australian study of 3427 Australian children aged four, six and eight showed a direct correlation between screen time and reduced sleep.
Another UK study suggested electronic gadgets could be to blame for a 70 per cent jump in speech problems in six years.
The author of the newly released book 20 Tips For Parents, Professor Oates said children under two should have no screen time; children aged two to five years no more than one hour a day and children over five should spend no more than two hours a day.
With hindsight, Mrs S said she wished she had limited her son’s screen time early on.
Her son is now seeing psychologist Emil Hodzic from the Video Game Addiction Treatment Centre in Sydney.
Ms M has set up a Facebook page called Parents of Gamers to share her experience.