How much time do your kids or loved ones spend playing Fortnite?
The Battle Royale game which is incredibly popular among kids worldwide can have young gamers spending hours at a time playing with their friends online.
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognises gaming addictions as a mental disorder this month, Pacific parents should also be cautioned about the consequences if screen time is not properly monitored.
A child becoming moody and tired especially when parents try to intervene, is not an unusual occurrence according to experts.
Whilst there is not much evidence to show that there are alarming gaming disorder statistics within the Pacific Island community, Doctor Monique Faleafa Chief Executive of Le Va, a Pacific Mental Health service based in Auckland believes that too much screen time may lead to other problems.
“I believe there may be a growing proportion of Pasifika young people who spend too much of their time on gaming,” she says. “This has negative consequences, one major one for Pasifika young people being physical health and nutrition.
“There is evidence that the longer the on-screen time, the more likely young Pasifika people will be overweight or obese, if not as children, when they are older. And we know from other international studies that sitting for long periods of time is like the new smoking – it’s really bad for us and one hundred percent preventable. Then there’s the lack of sleep and less time spent with family or on schoolwork that can also impact negatively on their lives.”
She adds that only health professionals with appropriate training are qualified to make the diagnosis of gaming disorders and she supports this move because it means science is starting to respond to technology faster and that the treatment of technology addictions is a serious issue.
However, regular moderation and monitoring is key and offers some suggestions to concerned parents.
“Set a certain amount of time allowed to game and balance on screen time with outdoor or social activities. Technological solutions could be setting parental controls on a device, regularly changing the wifi password and only giving access once chores and homework are done.”
James Driver of Net Addiction New Zealand agrees.
“The best thing parents can do is find ways to create balance between gaming and other parts of a young person’s life.”
He adds that parents should also talk to their kids about gaming and understand why they do it and reflect together on the impacts it has.
Find out more about Le Va and their services at www.leva.co.nz
Read more about gaming addiction and seek advice at www.netaddiction.co.nz