In this morning’s Times, we look at video game and internet addiction, kids who get iCrazed and how to spot the warning signs before it turns unhealthy. Wii, iPhones and all the technological gadgetry our kids use today are powerful tools for connecting people 24/7 — and for parents who dive into this technology, it can be a wonderful way to connect with your tweens and teens too. But tech toys can also be tools of addiction. Read the story (there’s an accompanying piece on the toddler tech craze, and a column by Times games columnist Gieson Cacho about his own addiction to Everquest, and we’ve put the warning signs here on the blog after the jump), then click “comments” and weigh in with your thoughts. Do you worry about your kids’ overuse of video games or tech toys? Do you set limits for them?
We’ll also be hosting an online roundtable (registration required, but it only takes a minute) with CSU professor Larry Rosen, author of the marvelous “Me, MySpace and I: Parenting the Net Generation,” Walnut Creek therapist Steven Freemire, Gieson and fellow Gamester blogger Danny Willis tomorrow (Monday) at noon.
RED FLAGS FOR PARENTS
It’s not the hours. For something to be an addiction, it has to impact the rest of your life, says Iowa State psychology professor Douglas Gentile. Gentile adapted the American Psychological Association’s gambling addiction criteria to video game use, and says anyone who has 6 out of 11 of these symptoms needs help. Freemire sends up a warning flag much earlier — if your teen or tween (or you) begins exhibiting just two or three of these symptoms, it’s time for a parent to intervene:
1. Spending more and more time thinking about playing video games or planning the next opportunity to play;
2. Needing to spend more time to attain the same thrill;
3. Lying to family and friends about the amount of time spent playing;
4. Playing video games to escape from problems or bad feelings;
5. Stealing in order to acquire more video games;
6. Skipping chores or household responsibilities in order to play;
7. Skipping homework (or work) to play;
8. Doing poorly on school assignments or exams (or work assignments) because too much time was spent playing;
9. Financial problems from spending too much money on game equipment, software or game fees;
10. Inability to stop or limit game play;
11. Withdrawal symptoms — restlessness or irritability — when you do cut back.
Click “comments” and share your thoughts.